Sustainable Lake Management

What you will learn

Improve practitioners' understanding of Sustainable Lake Management (SLM).

Equip participants with the tools to create and implement a lake recovery plan that considers diverse stakeholder input and is tailored to the participants’ unique environmental and socioeconomic conditions.

About this Course

Natural and artificial lakes store nearly 90% of all liquid surface fresh water on the planet and are vital to economies, societies and ecosystems worldwide. Yet, these ecosystems face increasing pressure from biodiversity loss, pollution and rising temperatures. Recognizing these threats, in March 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly adopted a landmark resolution on Sustainable Lake Management (SLM). It calls on countries to protect, conserve, restore, and sustainably use lakes and reservoirs, while integrating them into national and regional development plans. In this course, participants will be introduced to the new proposed definition of SLM and its foundational principles. Participants will also learn how to determine lake baseline status, and develop components of a lake recovery plan, including effective monitoring and evaluation. Additionally, various tools and technologies, including nature-based solutions and components of effective governance and stakeholder management will be explored. Finally, various financing mechanisms available for SLM, and guidance on accessing, them will be presented.


The course aims to improve practitioners’ understanding of SLM and equip them with the tools to create and implement a lake recovery plan that considers diverse stakeholder input and is tailored to the participants’ unique environmental and socioeconomic conditions. The course discusses the main threats facing lakes and existing Integrated Lake Basin Management (ILBM) and Principles of Ecosystem Restoration approaches that form the basis of sustainable lake management. Ways to identify existing baseline conditions, challenges and information gaps are presented, together with opportunities for financing and possible solutions regarding transboundary lake basin challenges. By the end of the course, participants will be able to design, implement, and refine participatory lake recovery plans that promote the sustainable use of lake resources.

Learning objectives

The course will enable participants to:  

  • Gain an overview of the key threats impacting lakes, the new proposed definition of SLM and fundamental principles underlying it.
  • Identify existing baseline conditions, current pressures on and gaps in the system, and key components of a lake recovery plan.
  • Implement effective monitoring and evaluation to track progress of their recovery plan and identify tools and technologies they can use to achieve this.  
  • Understand the importance of effective institutions and policies in SLM and gain strategies for stakeholder engagement and transboundary lake management. 
  • Implement the gradual, cyclic process of SLM and evaluate appropriate financing opportunities for the situation they face. 

Target participants are lake or water practitioners at the middle management level who are responsible for the daily operations or management of lake or reservoir water resources. 


Participants are expected to have previous basic knowledge of pressures impacting lake systems (e.g. nutrient pollution from agriculture, overfishing, excessive water extraction, drying up lakes, etc.) and the impacts of climate change on them. Gender balance is very important for all course partners; we especially encourage women to participate in this course. 

Contents and approach

Contents are structured in modules. In each module participants will find readings, videos, suggested web sites, forum discussions and quizzes.

The course consists of five modules, each comprising an introductory video, mandatory and recommended readings, recommended web sites and videos, and a discussion forum. In the forum, questions will be provided to facilitate knowledge sharing. Participants will need to complete a short quiz at the end of each module. The quiz will be based on the introductory video and mandatory readings. Each module should take 3-4 hours to complete.

  • Module 1: Introduction - Introduces the new proposed definition of SLM, why SLM is needed, the international momentum behind it and fundamental principles.
  • Module 2:  Determining the Baseline - Presents standards, key components of a lake recovery plan and a tool for conducting a baseline assessment.
  • Module 3: Guidelines, Tools and Technologies for Monitoring and Evaluation - Highlights standards, steps and tools for conducting effective monitoring and evaluation when a lake recovery plan is implemented. Nature-based solutions will also be highlighted for consideration in this stage.
  • Module 4: Institutions, Stakeholder Engagement and Policies - Attributes of effective institutions and policies in SLM will be showcased, along with tips for stakeholder engagement and strategies for managing transboundary lakes.
  • Module 5: Implementation and Financing- How to implement SLM, along with key considerations when doing so; the variety of financing mechanisms available will be highlighted.

Course approval criteria and certificate

60% correct responses on the set of multiple-choice questions in each module. Participants who complete all modules will receive a certificate granted by the course organizers.

Answering multiple-choice questions at the end of each module is a condition to move on to the next module, completing the course, and receiving a course certificate. Participants have up to three chances to obtain at least 60% correct responses, and in all cases the platform will indicate the wrong answers.


After completing the 5 modules, participants are invited to answer a short feedback survey of the course. Once this survey is answered, participants may download their certificate. Participation in the course, as well as the download of the certificate, has no costs for the participants.

Course Facilitators
Lisbet Rhiannon Hansen   

Lisbet Rhiannon Hansen has ten years of experience working with climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and integrated water resources management in international settings. As a Programme Advisor for the UNEP-DHI Centre for Water and Environment she has worked with NGOs, governments, and international organizations – from the local to the global level – on sustainable development initiatives with a focus on water management. Since 2015, Lisbet has worked with countries to develop integrated water resources management plans for transboundary lakes and river basins in sub-Saharan Africa. She has an academic background in geography and environmental conflict management, and has been developing online courses for Cap-Net since 2021.  

Dr Denise Antoinette Devotta 

Dr Devotta is a limnologist, working as a Senior Environmental Scientist with DHI. She has over 10 years’ experience working at the intersections of science, policy and industry across the United States and Asia. Her technical expertise includes biogeochemistry (nutrient cycling), water quality, plastics pollution, and sustainable water resources management in lakes, reservoirs and marine ecosystems. She leads interdisciplinary teams across multiple continents and shapes science policy through prior work for the US Congress and advising governments on freshwater and marine issues of national interest. 

Course Partners


The UNEP-DHI Centre on Water and Environment is a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) centre of expertise, dedicated to improving the management, development and use of freshwater resources from the local to the global level. The UNEP-DHI Centre has been in operation since 1996 and has been co-funded by UNEP, Danida and DHI since 2001. During this time, the quality and relevance of the work of the UNEP-DHI Centre has resulted in it becoming a core resource for UNEP’s work on freshwater issues, and in delivering its Programmes of work and Freshwater strategies. The UNEP-DHI Centre has attained global recognition for its work in promoting sustainable water resources management and supporting the water-related SDG targets. 


United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP is the leading global authority on the environment. UNEP’s mission is to inspire, inform, and enable nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UNEP’s work is focused on helping countries transition to low-carbon and resource-efficient economies, strengthening environmental governance and law, safeguarding ecosystems, and providing evidence-based data to inform policy decisions. Through cutting-edge science, coordination and advocacy, UNEP supports its 193 Member States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and live in harmony with nature. 


The International Lake Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC)

ILEC was established to seek exchanges of international knowledge and promote research that develops sustainable management of the world’s lakes and basins. It does this in collaboration with their worldwide counterparts from the academic, administrative and private sectors engaged in the conservation of lakes and other inland waters. ILEC also promotes international cooperation and human resource development through hosting the World Lake Conference as well as through various other training and educational activities. 


Cap-Net UNDP

Cap-Net is an international network for capacity development in sustainable water management. It is made up of a partnership of autonomous international, regional and national institutions and networks committed to capacity development in the water sector. At Global level Cap-Net works with 23 regional and country level capacity development networks with about 1,000 member organizations in 120 countries, and numerous international partners. Cap-Net UNDP delivers training and education to water professionals in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Language: English.

Structure: 5 modules.

Level: Introductory.

Content: readings, videos, forums.

Time: 20 hours.

Total time dedication: 4 - 6 weeks.

Certification: upon approval of quizzes.