The AWP returned to Stockholm this year to join thousands of other delegates at the 2017 World Water Week (28 Aug –2 Sep), keen to continue sharing Australian experiences in water reform and managing drought and water scarcity, and to raise this on the international agenda. It was also an excellent opportunity to collaborate with and support partners at the exhibition and to represent Australia at a DFAT organised reception at the Australian Embassy in Stockholm.
A contingent from the AWP including CEO Prof Nick Schofield and representatives from seven Australian partners led and participated in a variety of sessions throughout the week cross cutting this year’s theme of “water and waste: reduce and reuse”.
The AWP convened a showcase on Australian water tools: linking information & modelling to support decision-making. AWP Partners – the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, and eWater – showcased Australian water products, services, and tools that provide a scientifically robust basis for developing credible water-sharing agreements between multiple end users including the environment, from catchment to major river basin scale.
Prof Schofield chaired the showcase and also represented the AWP on a high-level panel session on overcoming water scarcity and drought. The panel reviewed recently made technological, operational and regulatory advances to turn water scarcity into a new opportunity for sustainable water management. It also reviewed the potential of initiatives recently launched, such as the WaterGuide, to accelerate government and business engagement in becoming more pro-active on addressing water scarcity and drought.
Prof Schofield also attended a session “Water Innovation Engine: Catalysing change and partnerships through the HLPW” organised by DFAT.
In addition to the Australian led sessions, AWP launched two publications on the booth:
WaterGuide, originally submitted to the World Bank/UN High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) and released in March, was launched by Ryan Gormly, Principal Consultant for Aither, on behalf of authors Huw Pohlner and Will Fargher.
Gender Equality & Goal 6: The Critical Connection, also submitted to the HLPW as a framing paper in Dec 2016 and released publicly as a full discussion paper in July 2017, was launched by Professor Juliet Willetts of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology (UTS) Sydney, on behalf of co-authors Melita Grant of UTS, and Chelsea Huggett and Jane Wilbur of WaterAid.
AWP shared our exhibition booth with the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, who launched the first occasional paper of the Water Sensitive Cities Think Tank entitled “Water Utilities of the Future: Making the Transition”, and convened a session on the topic with IWC and the Asian Development Bank.
Across the week, delegates from international organisations heard about AWP’s Kini initiative, presented by Karen Delfau, Executive Director of the International WaterCentre Alumni Network, which is leading Kini in partnership with the AWP. This included the introduction of Kini in a session on harnessing opportunities for the safe reuse of wastewater in agriculture, as a way to connect practitioners across the Asia-Pacific to discuss opportunities and share knowledge on this topic. Kini has 240 members (as of 8 Sep) from the Australian and international water sector and is free to join. The prospects for growth over the next year and beyond are very promising, with requests from organisations to link and collaborate with Kini, and with establishing sub-communities for targeted networking such as with people working in the field of wastewater in agriculture.
The Australian Embassy hosted over 50 delegates from Australia and key organisations at the end of the final day of the main program. The HC spoke about the importance of sustainable water management to the economy and societal well-being of Australia and the emerging opportunity for Australia to share its wealth of expertise and experience across the region and developing world.
The Stockholm World Water Week is one of the premier international water conferences where the AWP can represent Australia as a positive and enduring force in the international water sector. It has become an ideal platform for AWP to support Australian partners in engaging with international organisations and people from around the world and is raising awareness of the role of AWP and its work.