The work of GEMS/Water consists of three major elements: ensuring water quality data flows from a world-wide network, maintaining the global water quality database (GEMStat), as well as enabling countries to deliver authoritative data through capacity development and trainings.
- The Global Programme Coordination (GPCU), is in charge of the overall coordination of the UNEP GEMS/Water Programme and the day to day management. The GPCU liaises with, maintains and expands the network of GEMS/Water National and Collaborating Focal Points (NFPs and CFPs). These are the partner institutions in the countries that deliver water quality data to the GEMS/Water Data Centre. Furthermore it works with Regional Hubs and partners on the design of water quality monitoring schemes, capacity development and assessments as well as providing services to inform policy making and water management.
- The GEMS/Water Data Centre (DC) is coordinating and delivering the monitoring data collection, processing and dissemination activities relating to the global water quality monitoring database and information system GEMStat. The main function of the Centre is to mobilize and support the generation, collection, sharing and access to quality-assured data on the water quality of freshwater resources through the global network of GEMS/Water. This data serves as the foundation for regional and global assessments of the state and trends of water quality such as the World Water Quality Assessment (WWQA). It also is necessary for countries to fulfill their SDG reporting obligations with regard to water quality (SDG 6, Goal 3).
- The functions of the Capacity Development Centre (CDC) are to encourage a standardized approach to data generation by participating countries through providing guidance and training on all aspects of water quality monitoring and quality assurance of monitoring activities. The aim is to ensure compatibility and comparability of data for use in national, regional and global assessments. The GEMS/Water CDC will maintain the coherence of the overall GEMS/Water Programme by ensuring standardization of approach across all regions, through production of standard methods, overseeing training course content and training staff where required. All capacity development initiatives will be planned and implemented in close co-operation with the GPCU to ensure they are appropriately and sensitively targeted and delivered.
- In the past GEMS/Water regularly conducted world-wide Performance Evaluation (PE) studies for water testing laboratories. These evaluations consist of a series of intercomparison studies designed to evaluate the reliability and comparability of water quality data from laboratories in United Nations member states worldwide. The purpose of these studies is to provide participants with Quality Control (QC) resources and detailed feedback on analytical performance. These PE studies are also important for ensuring a long-term trend of improved quality of data submitted to GEMStat. In the future, GEMS/Water aims at reintroducing PE studies in order to assist countries in their freshwater quality monitoring.