Water security in Asia and the Pacific is under threat. Improving agricultural water productivity, achieving energy needs, maintaining the resilience of cities in the face of rapid urbanisation and climate change, satisfying growing industrial water requirements, and protecting water quality and natural ecosystems all continue to pose deep challenges for development. The social, economic and political consequences of water shortages are real, as are the effects and impacts of worsening climate-related water extremes.
The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) offers a unique opportunity to bring together the Australian development and water sectors under a long-term strategic engagement framework. By sharing its experiences from three decades of water reform, and from learning to manage water as a scarce economic good, Australia can help international partners to develop a better understanding of their sustainable water resource base, implement robust basin-scale planning, enact governance reforms supported by innovative policy and legal frameworks, strengthen institutions and build professional capability, develop water sensitive cities, improve water quality and ecological health, and manage demand and improve water use efficiency, in a variable and drying climate.
Formation of the AWP
In September 2014, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs agreed that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) should establish an initiative to support public and private partnerships for sharing Australia’s water sector expertise in the Indo-Pacific region. Initially funded through the Australian aid program, the AWP will provide more efficient access to Australian water sector experience and expertise in response to growing demand for collaboration from governments and multilateral agencies in the region.
Deeper engagement in regional water issues will also open opportunities for Australia to learn from different approaches and enable participating professionals to explore water management issues of mutual interest and benefit.
The AWP was established in May 2015 with an initial DFAT investment of AUD$20 million over four years. The AWP will seek co-investment collaborations with its international partners and may also incorporate fee for service activities where appropriate.
eWater has been contracted by DFAT as the AWP’s implementing partner, and operational governance—including partnering, investments and activity selection—will be overseen by an AWP Committee.
To manage water resources effectively and equitably in the Indo-Pacific region to support sustainable economic development, improve water security for all, and reduce environmental and social impacts and regional tensions.
Mission & goals
The core development goal for the AWP is to enhance the sustainable management of water resources in the Indo-Pacific region, in turn supporting inclusive economic development, improvements to water security for all, and reductions in environmental and social impacts and regional tensions.
We will build an open, effective and enduring partnership that facilitates and supports:
- strategic, long-term engagement of the Australian water sector with governments in the region, multi-lateral development organisations, water sector institutions, water use industries, and civil society
- sharing between Australian and international partners of water reform experiences, expertise and technologies to underpin sustainable water use and management, and
- enhanced capability and capacity to deliver effective and equitable water security outcomes, enhancement of private sector development and trade outcomes in water-related industries
For further details see the AWP Theory of Change.
Guiding considerations for AWP-funded activities reflect:
- The development outcomes described in our Vision and Mission
- Australia’s unique experiences and expertise in managing water scarcity and climatic extremes
- Engagement by a cross-section of water management and use sub-sectors, and International and Australian Partners
- Australia’s strategic interests across the Indo-Pacific region
- Strategic choices that offer productive long-term engagement and relationship building
We work in collaboration with International Partners in aid-eligible countries in South Asia, South-East Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, and with other Indo-Pacific countries on a selective basis.
The AWP will work in collaboration with international partners in aid-eligible countries in South Asia, South-East Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, and with other Indo-Pacific countries on a selective basis.
Our collaborative offer
AWP’s core offer to International Partners will be centred on the sharing of Australia’s experiences in reforming water policy, management and use. This has been a three decade long journey, undertaken in response to prior periods of over-allocation, an increasingly variable and drying climate, the needs of rapidly-growing cities, declining source and receiving water quality, and growing water scarcity.
Where requested, the AWP will contribute to the integrated planning and allocation of available water resources, improving water supply and water use efficiency, and the management of water quality and ecological condition – all of which are key constraints to sustainable livelihoods and economic development.
It will help build institutional and technical capacity for water governance and management across the region. Improved policies, institutions, legal frameworks and tools will enable water managers to better deal with competing demands for surface waters, build resilience for climate extremes, reduce the unsustainable use of groundwater, and better manage pollution and protect aquatic ecosystems. In each of these areas, the Australian public and private sector can offer collaborative skills, experience and technology.
The AWP will encourage the sharing of knowledge and capability, dealing with complexity, trade-offs and opportunities in connected water systems in a holistic manner, across four core water reform themes:
Understanding the water resource base
– with integrated assessment of water availability and quality, catchment condition and ecosystem health.
River basin planning & water allocations framework
– including building resilience for climatic extremes.
Governance reforms & institutional strengthening
– including robust water entitlements and allocation frameworks.
Managing demand & improving efficiency
– including use by ecosystems.
The AWP will also seek to build economic, environmental and societal value across four water use domains:
- Water-sensitive cities
- Modern irrigation systems
- Environmental water quantity and quality
- Catchments and river basins.
Channels for assistance
Direct engagement with priority partner countries, brokered through DFAT overseas missions and programs or under bilateral MoUs. Proposals for AWP activities and funding support will be developed collaboratively by AWP, DFAT and country partners.
Strategic country and regional engagements brokered through the World Bank, Asian Development Bank or UN organisations. An open and simple means of submitting proposals (in priority countries) and accessing Australian experts and teams will be implemented, on a funded or co-investment basis.
Introductory assistance to countries or organisations, with support beyond initial exchanges or referrals to Australian partner expertise being limited or on a fee for service basis.
Knowledge networking and exchange
Strategic AWP activities focussed on building and sharing Australian and regional water reform experiences and knowledge. Supported activities may include study tours, workshops, training courses, web-based learning, and staff exchanges.
AWP activities are primarily demand-driven, with support for international requests and proposals focused on:
- developing strategic relationships and exchanges
- brokering and supporting access to Australian expertise and capability
- facilitating private sector engagement and development, and
- building and sharing knowledge.
Specific AWP-funded activities provided by Australian Partners may include expert advice and technical assistance, pilot demonstrations of Australian approaches or technologies, facilitated delegations and study tours, professional staff exchanges and knowledge sharing, and participation in important regional dialogues, workshops and events.
The AWP’s management team is based in Canberra and oversees program management, collaborative partnerships, knowledge sharing, outreach, communication and ‘domain’ knowledge of the domestic and international water sectors. The Chief Executive and senior management staff meet regularly with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the AWP Advisory Committee on matters relating to the strategic planning and reporting of these areas. The team also works closely with its Australian and International Partners.
The AWP Advisory Committee (AWPAC) was established by the eWater Ltd Board. Committee members were appointed following an open call which attracted a large number of nominations from across the water sector. The Committee is not a representative body, but appointments took into account gender, geographical reach and expertise across AWP’s four water management domains that are the focus of its work.
The purpose of the AWPAC is to advise and support the EWL Board in the successful execution of the AWP Grant Agreement by:
- formally and visibly linking AWP to key stakeholder groups in the water industry in Australia and internationally;
- providing independent information and advice on strategic issues or risks confronting AWP;
- encouraging and supporting the exploration of new business ideas for the AWP that can generate opportunity;
- providing specialist independent expertise in the assessment of international requests for funding through proposals; and
- monitoring the performance of the AWP and considering options for improving performance.
The AWP Expert Review Panel (ERP) was established to ensure effective adoption of operational objectives and application of the Commonwealth’s ‘value for money’ procurement principles in the selection of partner teams.
The ERP consists of seven members with high-level skills and experiences in water management, and collectively covering the following water sector domains:
- River basin planning and management
- Urban water policy and management
- Irrigation modernisation and management
- Enabling methods and technologies for water reform