Simply stated, water is life. Some microbial organisms, for example, can exist in the complete absence of oxygen. However, no form of life can exist and function in the absence of water. It is truly the essence of life. Thus, adequate supplies of freshwater of good quality are obviously a critical requirement for human health and well-being, and economic development. Indeed, humans use freshwater for a wide range of purposes, including drinking water, irrigation, power generation, commercial and sports fisheries, recreation and transportation.

Freshwater systems also offer aesthetic pleasures, and are also of spiritual significance in some cases. Freshwater also maintains the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems upon which humans depend for their health, well-being and livelihoods, as well as maintaining the integrity of the ecosystems that provide these services in the first place. Indeed, life as we know it would not be possible without this irreplaceable, and unfortunately easily degraded commodity.

To this end, the International Institute for Sustainable Water Resources (IISWR) was established to be an active participant in providing practical information, experience, and guidance regarding freshwater issues and the ecosystems that provide this critical resource. Its activities focus on the accurate assessment and integrated management of freshwater resources for sustaining the life-supporting ecosystem services they provide, as well as considering the scientific, social, economic and policy aspects of these activities.