Ozwater’22, Australia’s most prominent international annual water conference and exhibition, took place in full force this year with most delegates attending the event in person in rainy Brisbane, Australia from May 10–12, 2022. The three-day conference program under the theme Our Water Journey was an opportunity to celebrate the evolution of the water sector in Australia, connect with partners and explore future collaborations
This year, AWP collaborated with WaterAid to share an exhibition stand and messages on the critical support the development sector provides in the Indo-Pacific region. AWP also attended WaterAid’s partner breakfast where WaterAid supporters received an update of the work being undertaken in PNG and upcoming activities. Further discussions with Navara Kiene, WaterAid PNG’s Program Director, explored ideas on how to build an enabling environment for climate resilient WASH while ensuring localisation—where local partners lead in decision-making and in determining strategic priorities.
The exhibition booth was a hub for the AWP team (Michael Wilson, Shreya Gyawali, Lucía Gamarra, Van Duong, Rohan Kent and Katharine Cross) to meet and discuss key issues with partners, as well as explore new ideas for future cooperation. A common thread throughout the meetings was the urgency to respond to climate change impacts, which touch on every sector, particularly food and energy.
AWP partners were keen to contribute towards water and climate stories, which are being compiled and showcased in the lead-up to the UNFCCC COP27. Many interesting cases emerged ranging from how utilities are developing pathways both internally and with customers to achieve net zero carbon emissions; to the importance of traditional water knowledge in building climate resilience; to applying evidence-based technology to adapt to climate change. AWP looks forward to receiving contributions from partners, please contact Lucía Gamarra if you have a story to share.
AWP co-convened a panel session with Griffith University’s International WaterCentre, Yarra Valley Water and WaterAid, “Partnering for climate-resilient water security in Asia Pacific” facilitated by Lucía Gamarra, Partnerships and Impact Officer, where a diverse set of partnerships were presented addressing water management and water supply, sanitation and hygiene issues as well as climate resilience. The partnering organisations—a research institution, a non-government organisation and a water utility—demonstrated the varied ways in which partnerships can catalyse actions towards climate-resilient water security. The dynamic discussion recognised the importance of relationships and trust within partnerships to help address complex problems.
As an International Development Partner of Ozwater’22, AWP co-organised the Water for Development stream with the Australian Water Association (AWA). The stream kicked off with a series of presentations and discussions moderated by Michael Wilson, CEO of the eWater Group. These featured partnerships with Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Fiji on programs including the Water Utility Improvement Programs (WUIP) and the SARS-CoV-2 Environmental Wastewater Surveillance Program. Examples from the WUIP demonstrated positive outcomes through meaningful targeted technical assistance on non-revenue water, two-way knowledge exchange on asset management and ongoing people to people links. The value of trusted relationships between Australian and partner country water utilities was emphasised throughout the presentations.
The stream continued with an emerging water leaders showcase and a panel on “Driving Adaptation and Improving Responsiveness to Disruption and Challenges through Partnerships for Development” moderated by Katharine Cross, AWP Strategy and Partnerships Lead. A shared issue across partners from Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Australia was addressing unprecedented challenges such as climate change. It was agreed that such complex problems with high uncertainty require not just technical solutions but also people from different backgrounds to work together to develop innovative and adaptive approaches.
Michael Wilson participated in the Water Leaders Forum which reflected on emerging issues that impact understanding of the value of water—including energy futures, alternative water options, and social equity. Further sessions focused on cybersecurity and climate governance, and how these are creating both risks and opportunities for organisations.
AWP’s presence at Ozwater’22 was an opportunity to ensure its roots in the Australian water community remains strong while also exploring the many possibilities of linking Australian water expertise to meet international development needs.
All conference proceedings including papers, ePosters and presentations are also now available to download through the Ozwater’22 Online Platform. Ozwater’22 highlights can be viewed on the Australian Water Association’s Flickr.