The capacity of countries to monitor freshwater quality is fundamental to the generation of data and information for water quality assessment at all relevant scales, and to foster sustainability in water-related sectors. This capacity is particularly lacking in developing parts of the world and is found at all stages of the water quality monitoring and assessment process, from defining needs and objectives, to planning a monitoring network, to selection and implementation of the most appropriate methods (e.g., in-situ physical and chemical analysis, remote sensing, ecological sensing and groundwater monitoring) and data quality assurance and control, data management and interpretation.

In order to expand the current capacity development activities offered by GEMS/Water, and to enhance water quality data generation for global, regional and national scale water quality assessment in the context of the World Water Quality Alliance (WWQA), the Capacity Development Centre (CDC) at University College Cork, in conjunction with UNEP, have established the Capacity Development Consortium (CDCm) in partnership with, but not exclusive to, members of the WWQ-Alliance. It is anticipated that a network will be developed to support educational organizations willing to offer capacity development in their regions and local languages based on curricula, and following standards and criteria, co-designed by the Consortium but tailored to local requirements, and that this platform will showcase capacity development activities and link providers with potential clients.

The development and implementation of the WWQA Capacity Development Consortium has been built into the activities and deliverables of the funding agreement between UNEP and the GEMS/Water CDC of University College Cork. The CDC provides global capacity development for water quality monitoring through educational programmes, training workshops, summer schools and tailored advice and training.

The main objectives of this Capacity Development Consortium are to survey the scope and format of capacity development activities, develop an online platform for showcasing capacity development products to countries, organisations and agencies that may need them, facilitate interaction between providers and clients, and encourage educational establishments globally to offer water quality courses and curricula in their own local languages.