The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) represented Australia as Country Partner in the 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Water Management, organised by the Government of India’s Ministry of Jal Shakti in Pune, India, from 6–8 November 2019.
AWP supported several Australian Partners to participate in the conference, sharing Australian experiences related to basin planning, water information systems, environmental flows, participatory groundwater management and the Australian water reform journey. Overall the event was attended by more than 600 participants including from the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Central Water Commission, Central Ground Water Board, State Water Resources Department, National Institute of Hydrology, National Water Informatics Centre, and World Bank.
“Through the National Hydrology Project (NHP), the Ministry of Jal Shakti is improving the planning, development, and management of India’s water resources,” said AWP CEO Prof Nick Schofield.
“AWP was delighted to support the 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Water Management, with our diverse group of Australian Partners demonstrating the breadth of Australia’s expertise and the knowledge and lessons learned through our own water journey that can assist India with theirs.”
The Australian Government was represented by Mr Tony Huber, Australian Consul-General from Mumbai in the inaugural session who outlined the importance of Australia’s growing relationship with India, no better exemplified than through our water collaboration. Representatives from DFAT Delhi Post and Austrade also attended. Prof Schofield delivered a keynote address on the history of Australian water reforms, describing how Australia’s water management has evolved rapidly over the last 100 years under pressures of a growing population, economic development and climate change.
Prof Schofield outlined Australia’s need to continually adapt by diversifying water supply, implementing detailed basin and sub-catchment water planning, enforcing sustainable diversion limits on consumptive use, initiating multi-sector water markets and water trading, and increasing water allocations to river, wetland and ecosystem health.
AWP Australian Partners presented on a variety of topics: Ms Janice Green (Australian Bureau of Meteorology) on Meeting the Information Needs of Australia’s Water Sector; Mr John Teres (Australian Hydrographers Association) on Hydrometric Monitoring – The Role of Capability Building in Management; Prof Basant Maheshwari (Western Sydney University) on Water Conservation Practices in Rajasthan; Mr Simon Tilleard (Alluvium Consulting) on Flows for Multiple Benefits in Basin Plans: Achieving Sustainable Water Resource Development; and Mr David Winfield (Alluvium Consulting) on a new River Basin Planning Guide for water resources practitioners, which AWP launched during the conference.
The new publication, titled ‘River Basin Planning: An Indian Guide’, was developed in consultation with the Indian Ministry of Jal Shakti, and provides practical and concise guidance to develop and implement a basin plan in the Indian context. AWP Australian Partners Alluvium Consulting, Institute for Sustainable Futures (University of Technology Sydney) and Access Water Management co-developed the Guide, which draws on experiences in Indian and Australian river basin planning and water management.
Both the River Basin Planning Guide and a groundwater resource book on Empowering Village Communities for a Sustainable Water Future—developed with support from AWP—were presented to the Minister for Jal Shakti Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, and Secretary Shri U P Singh.
A new India Young Water Professionals (YWP) Program was also launched during the conference, generating significant interest from Indian stakeholders. The YWP program will commence in 2020, equipping YWPs with the necessary skills, knowledge, behaviours and networks to enable them to contribute to the development and management of water resources in India. Once YWPs complete the program, they will mentor and support the next round of YWPs, enabling continuous cross-generational collaboration and learning as the program matures.
The YWP Program facilitator, Yes Everyone Matters Founder and AWP Partner, Ms Vanh Mixap, ran a co-design workshop with the National Water Academy in Pune. Around 50 aspiring government water graduates engaged with great energy and aptitude in the well designed and facilitated session. Vanh said, “the co-design approach proved very successful – and with 50 percent of India’s population less than 25 years old, this kind of investment into the next generation of water leaders is essential.”
AWP South Asia Representative, Mr Vijay Kumar, reflected on the outcomes of the conference, saying, “The 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Water Management provided an opportunity to present AWP’s ongoing activities under the NHP, helping to strengthen the water relationship between Australia and India. AWP’s ongoing support to the NHP was duly acknowledged by the Joint Secretary Shri Akhil Kumar in his inaugural speech and our support of the event was very well received.”