The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) participated in the Mekong Water Data Experts Group Meeting in Washington, D.C. on 3–4 April, collaborating with experts from the US, Mekong countries, Japan and Korea as part of a larger effort to support institutions and stakeholders to better utilise data to improve water management in the Mekong region.
The meeting was held as part of the US-led Mekong Water Data Initiative (MWDI) of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) and focused on policy, process and tools for data sharing and decision making. It was the fourth in a series of international discussions in support of the MWDI and the first step toward implementing the 2018 Joint Statement to Strengthen Water Data Management and Information Sharing in the Mekong.
A key objective of the meeting was to develop terms of reference for a model data exchange platform that would enhance access to natural resources data throughout the lower Mekong region, and to identify policy actions that could facilitate data access and management in the region.
Recently, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat launched an initiative to reinvigorate its data, modelling and information systems to provide enhanced and timely information to the public and MRC member countries. During the Washington meeting, Australia confirmed its technical assistance to the MRCS.
In a recent letter from the Australian Embassy in Vientiane to the MRC Secretariat, Australian Ambassador to Lao PDR His Excellency Mr Jean-Bernard Carrasco said, “This support further demonstrates Australia’s ongoing commitment to the MRC’s work, in recognition of its role as the primary platform for technical water cooperation in the Mekong region.”
The meeting served as a valuable opportunity for AWP Partner representatives – eWater Principal Hydrologist Dr Paradis Someth, and Bureau of Meteorology’s General Manager Water Dr Robert Argent – and DFAT’s Senior Water Resources Specialist Dr John Dore, to network with key stakeholders and present Australia’s contribution to both initiatives.
Dr Someth and Dr Argent participated in a number of sessions, workshops and meetings, joining meeting hosts the U.S. Department of State (DOS), IBM, University of Virginia, and Pact, along with over 60 other participants including water experts, scientists, and data specialists representing international public and private institutions, universities and research groups, international development partners and NGOs, and private companies.
Dr Someth also presented an introduction to eWater’s ‘WaterTools’ – a technology integration to support water resources development and management that was successfully piloted in Cambodia.