The Forum’s organizational structure encompasses various discussion and decision-making spheres. It seeks to ensure institutional parity and transparency and the effective participation of the Forum’s administrative entities, as can be seen from the diagram below: 

The International Steering Committee (ISC) is the Forum’s highest decision-making authority and is composed of 24 members, 12 of whom are nominated by the World Water Council and 12 by the National Organizing Committee.

A sub-group of the ISC forms the ISC Bureau that is responsible for the preparation and execution of the ISC’s decisions. The ISC and the National Organizing Committee have equal representation in the Bureau with 3 members each. The ISC Bureau is closely connected to the Secretariat, which is responsible for the implementation of the 8th World Water Forum itself.

Based in Brasilia, the Secretariat is headed by an Executive Director and its purpose is to ensure provision of the necessary infrastructure and logistics to make all the planned activities of the forum feasible.

The Forum’s contents are defined and implemented by five distinct commissions responsible, respectively, for:

  • the Thematic Process, which discusses which themes the Forum will address;
  • the Political Process, which involves local, regional, national, and national governing bodies and has resulted in memoranda of understandings and cooperation treaties and agreements for the integrated management of water resources;
  • the Regional Process, which discusses various problems and guidelines for cooperation and integrated water management on each continent or geographic region;
  • the Sustainability Focus Group, which discusses the adherence of public policies and actions to the principals of sustainable (economic, social and environmental) development in a cross-cutting perspective, participating in all the other processes; and
  • the Citizens' Forum, which stimulates the participation of organized civil society in the discussions, exchanges of experience and all the Forum’s other activities.

Each commission has eight members, half of whom are nominated by the World Water Council and half by the National Organizing Committee and each is led by a chair and a co-chair with due deference to observing parity between the National Committee and the WWC.

Finally, the Fair and Exhibition, organized by the Executive Secretariat, constitute spaces for the dissemination of ideas, good practices and innovation in industrial and corporate products and processes, with the aim of fostering new water-related business.