The World Expo in Dubai took place between 1 October 2021- 31 March 2022 with 192 participating countries. The Australian Pavilion, led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), brought a piece of Australia to the Expo, and played host to a targeted program of events that showcased the best of Australia. The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) delivered three major Australian sponsored events at the Expo during World Water Week (20-26 March 2022), one of ten theme weeks running throughout the six months of the Expo.
Within the Expo, AWP was a member of the organising committee for the International Conference on Water Resource Management and Sustainability: Solution for Arid Regions, co- convened by UAE University and the South Australian Department for Environment and Water. Held from March 22- 24, the Conference was an opportunity to share best practice, and showcase expertise in, and research and innovation on water security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions. Three hundred delegates across fifty- four countries attended the conference in person and over 150 oral presentations were delivered over the 2 days.
As part of the Conference, AWP partnered with Alluvium Consulting to co-host a workshop on Harnessing Community Knowledge for effective Water Outcomes Under Conditions of Scarcity. Kamilaroi Water Scientist, Bradley Moggridge; South Australia Water Ambassador, The Honourable Karlene Maywald and Professor Basant Maheshwari from Western Sydney University delivered the workshop discussing the important role Indigenous people play in managing groundwater, the experience in working through complex policy changes in Australia’s Murray Darling Basin and findings from work done on community management of groundwater recharge in India. The workshop took place in-person and online, and was moderated by Sarah Ransom, AWP General Manager and Australian Indigenous Water Leader Phil Duncan.
In recognition of World Water Day on 22 March 2022, AWP with DFAT and Water for Women co-convened an event Making the invisible visible: Valuing women and marginalised people in water management and WASH at the Women’s Pavilion. The event showcased real-world examples from the Asia-Pacific region, highlighting challenges to water security and outcomes of inclusive decision making in WASH. The event was opened by Mr Jamie Isbister, Ambassador for the Environment and included a panel discussion moderated by Nada Abubakr, Managing Director, Isle Utilities Middle East with Sarah Ransom, AWP General Manager, Brian Gleeson, GHD Australia, The Hon Karlene Maywald, South Australia Water Ambassador, Dr Brenda Dobia, Adjunct Fellow, Western Sydney University Sydney, Dr Tarifa Alzabi, Acting Director General, International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture and Professor Basant Maheshwari, Western Sydney University as panellists. The hybrid session concluded with panellists sharing key messages on how women and marginalised communities can be better supported in decision making spaces to achieve water and sanitation for all.
“To be able to achieve change, you need to be able to respect the positions of all those engaged in the conversation and bring others into the conversation. The behaviour that you walk past is the behaviour that you accept and when you walk past something that is not quite right, be prepared to question it”, said the Hon. Karlene Maywald, panellist in the session.
On 24 March 2022, the Women’s World Majlis in collaboration with the Australian Pavilion hosted a session titled A Thirst for Equality discussing how the collection of domestic water in developing countries could be made more gender equitable increase women’s leadership in the blue economy. AWP nominated the Hon. Karlene Maywald, SA Water Ambassador, as moderator of the session and Salma Bin Breik, Advisory Leader – UAE, GHD Pty Ltd (an Australian employee-owned international advisory firm), as a speaker. A total of 60 in- person and online guests participated in the event.
The World Expo in Dubai was an opportunity to showcase Australian contributions to addressing global water challenges, and for Australian institutions to build international linkages and raise their profile on a global stage.