[G]roundwater is a vulnerable resource, which, if not adequately managed and controlled, is susceptible to degradation from over-use, contamination and other abuses, with consequential loss of water supplies and far-reaching long term, irreversible consequences for the environment, often with transboundary implications. The inherent social and economic characteristics of groundwater, and its close linkage and critical significance in relation to land and environmental issues, point towards the need for a precautionary, ecosystem approach to the management of groundwater.
The significance of groundwater is often insufficiently recognised in national economic development plans, and in the administration of water resources and environmental protection. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) was therefore asked by the GEF to provide an assessment of the state of knowledge on groundwater, which would identify the principal threats, and strategic issues. To meet this request, STAP decided to convene a workshop on strategic priorities and options in groundwater resources, and to commission a review and synthesis document.