Skip to main content

Data submission

Background on Sharing Data with GEMS/Water

Countries and organizations are invited to voluntarily provide water quality data from their own monitoring networks to the GEMS/Water Data Centre, at the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change, as stated by the United Nations Environment Assembly in resolution 1/9 at its first session on 27 June 2014, where the mandate of GEMS/Water was reaffirmed.

There are plenty of benefits to be gained from sharing water quality data with the GEMS/Water Programme in the mid- to long-term. It is universally understood that water quality datasets require a substantial amount of time, work and funding to collect and archive. Hence, the hesitation in making these data publicly available at no cost is understandable. But once the data is collected and the assessments that they were intended for are done, data lies mostly dormant and is rather a liability than an asset.

What it takes is a small shift in perspective to see that putting these data to work can add additional value for the benefit of the whole country. Starting from more support by United Nations Programmes, over increased investments, to a kickback in scientific knowledge and solutions, which researchers from all over the world can produce based on your data. All these benefits help increase the living standards of the population and the adaptability of the whole country to new environmental trends: Trends, whose magnitude and scale, or even the sheer presence would not be known without your contribution.

Here are some examples of the benefits you can gain by sharing your data with GEMS/Water:

More private investments:

Investors can assess business opportunities in various areas, either for better coping with pollution (e.g. water treatment plants, industrial filters) or for taking advantage of a good water quality situation (e.g. bottled water).

More international investments:

Institutions can easily recognize the need of your country for infrastructure loans, international aid and collaboration in technology.

Gain of knowledge:

Researchers can access and analyze the data and give your government an overview of the status, trends and hotspots in water quality issues and the connected drivers, or even come up with solutions to possible problems that have not been available before.

More bilateral cooperation:

Other governments can see synergies of working with you to tackle similar water quality challenges.

More support from United Nations Programmes:

Advice for building monitoring networks, measurement methodologies and technologies, etc.

Data Submission Manual

Currently, the process of data submission to GEMStat is based on e-mail communication. While an option for automated uploads with member log-in will be provided in the mid-term, the workflow described below is the current method of reporting water quality data.

Data providers are requested to use the following Excel templates, where possible, to report stations, analysis methods and water quality values:


as a blank version of the inventory of monitoring locations, water quality parameters and analysis methods already registered in the GEMStat database by the contributing countries. This Inventory usually is pre-filled by the GEMS/Water Data Centre on demand before being sent out to the contributors, so you will find this individual copy to be empty.


for the registration of new monitoring locations and analysis methods that will be part of a data submission.


as an example of how the format for submitting water quality sample results could look like. However, the GEMS/Water Data Centre accepts any structured format for water quality data submissions.
Download Templates (ZIP-File, 91 KB)Download Manual (PDF-File, 1,4 MB)

Data Policy

Water quality data from the GEMStat database, in accordance with the data policy, may be used for status evaluation, research purposes or within the scope of education and training initiatives.

The data policy of GEMStat strives to regard the individual restrictions of all data providers and allows them to choose from three data policy options to fit their specific guidelines on data sharing:


Raw water quality data is publicly available and can be requested by everyone.


Raw water quality data is shared on written request for non-commercial research only. For every other purpose, only metadata and yearly aggregates on country level can be requested.


Raw data is not shared and its use by GEMS/Water is limited to UN-assessments and aggregated data products

The data policy can be set by the data providers on a per-submission level for the whole batch of submitted data. In all cases, the data contained in the GEMStat database are the property of the respective data providers.