Huw Pohlner interview: valuing water as a framework for identifying water management priorities

An interview with Huw Pohlner, senior consultant with Aither, an economics, policy, and strategy consulting firm. In the interview, Huw discusses the connection and knowledge sharing between Chinese and Australian water professionals; Aither’s Valuing Water framework and his impressions on how the prioritise national water management issues; the water-food-energy nexus; and emerging concerns about degrading surface water quality in the Indo-Pacific region.

Huw is a multidisciplinary water resource management and Asia engagement specialist, with on-the-ground experience in Australia, China, Malaysia, Myanmar and the UK.

Before joining Aither, he worked in the federal public service (Murray-Darling Basin Authority), the not-for-profit sector (Asialink) the international consulting business (China Policy), and the tertiary education sector (ANU).

Huw is an accomplished innovator; he co-founded the successful and sustainable Australia-China Youth Association and helped leverage a major grant from the federal government to establish Asialink Business.

Interview Topics

  • Lasting, meaningful connections and knowledge sharing between Chinese and Australian water professionals
  • Aither’s ‘Valuing Water’ framework, and how countries might be able to engage with this tool
  • Huw’s impressions on how to strategically prioritise national water management issues, with key stakeholders, in order to make progress in water management
  • The critical importance of the water-food-energy nexus
  • The growing concern of degrading surface water quality, and solutions that are emerging to monitor and improve water quality

Huw Pohlner is currently employed with Aither, an economics, policy and strategy consulting firm as a Senior Consultant.

Huw was a part of the team that put together the report on Valuing Water for the Australian Water Partnership in order to describe how the valuation of water can be integrated into water management to achieve efficient and sustainable outcomes. The findings from the framework were presented at the Budapest Water Summit 2016 and the Nature Conservancy’s Global Water Summit.

The importance of the water-food-energy nexus is broadly addressed in the interview by Huw.

Huw is one of the founders of the Australian China Youth Association, an initiative he started after spending a year in China. The idea behind ACYA is to bring Australians and Chinese living in China and Australia together for business and cultural exchange.

Huw talks about policy and regulations in the Murray Darling Basin which was a work in progress for a number of years. The MDB Authority established a Basin Plan for the sustainable management of basin resources.

China: water, environment, and communities

Huw is an expert on China and has a special interest in the country’s’ environment and water management. The Chinese government has a significant challenge in managing its water resources and has come up with its own water quality criteria system.

China is a leader in technology and they have developed numerous apps for the public to check air quality on their smartphones.

China is also a leader in the sponge cities concept designed to improve urban flood management.

Huw mentions in the interview about China investing in green infrastructure to reduce the amount of concrete in its cities. Green infrastructure has great benefits on human health in all urbanized cities across the world, especially in China.

Citizen science, water quality, and health

The interview also touches upon the role that citizen scientists play in assessing water quality levels and the opportunities they present in sampling and assessing the samples.

Huw makes an important point that linking water with health is a good way of assuring decision-makers to work on improving water quality. It can also be a driving force for citizens to take action.

Related articles

This interview and related content was originally part of the Kini Interview Series. Kini is a retired brand of the AWP and IWCAN.

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