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.