The Asian Development Bank (ADB) 2018 Asia Water Forum was held on 2-5 October at the ADB Headquarters in Manila, Philippines. Over 800 participants attended to share knowledge and experiences on water security in the Asia-Pacific region focusing on the theme of ‘Information, Innovation and Technology’.
Australian Water Partnership (AWP) Program Manager, Simon Tilleard, joined AWP Partners and government officials from ADB developing member countries, water and development professionals, and representatives from industry, civil society, academia and the private sector.
“About 300 million people in the Asia and Pacific region do not have improved access to water and 1.7 billion lack access to basic sanitation,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao. “Innovations and new technologies provide the means to help ADB developing member countries advance their water management including river basin management, flood control, and water pollution; and service delivery such as water supply, sanitation, and irrigation.”
Mr Nakao also referred to the Water Efficiency Improvement in Drought Affected Provinces project as a notable innovation in his opening address, focusing on the use of pressured pipes which was an innovation suggested by AWP-supported irrigation specialist Rob Rendell (RMCG Consulting Group).
Four days of high-level plenaries, technical sessions, panels and workshops explored the domains Mr Nakao addressed, with cross-cutting themes of inclusiveness; finance and transactions; governance and sustainability; disaster and resilience; and water-food-energy nexus, efficiency, and performance. The Forum was complemented by an exhibition of 48 international firms showcasing the latest water sector technologies and innovations, including a booth hosted by AWP.
Representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) also participated along with AWP Partners eWater, Geoscience Australia (GA), the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industry Research Organisation (CSIRO), BMT, the International Centre for Excellence in Integrated Water Resource Management (ICEWaRM), International RiverFoundation, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Partner organisations participated in many sessions including Innovative Tools for Water Resources Assessment where eWater presented on piloting Australia’s WaterTools to improve drought resilience, and IWMI discussed characterising flood-based farming systems in the Ayeyarwady Delta of Myanmar. eWater Chair, Don Blackmore AM, participated in a keynote panel discussing the Forum theme in relation to the Enabling Environment, and FAO and IWMI participated in a high-level panel on the Water-Food-Energy Nexus.
eWater also led an engaging workshop on Australian WaterTools for Water Management with GA, BoM and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The half-day workshop presented Australia’s core national-scale modelling tools that have underpinned policy development and implementation, and outlined a pathway for engagement with countries wishing to rapidly improve their management of water scarcity.
During the exhibition, CRCWSC released a paper titled ‘Strengthening the Delivery of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Urban Settlements’. The well-received paper calls for action from everyone involved in ensuring people living in urban informal settlements have access to clean water and sanitation, proposing an holistic approach to addressing the multiple faecal contamination pathways in informal settlements. The Australian Alternate ADB Executive Director, Scott Dawson, and ADB Vice President, Bambang Susanto, spoke at the launch along with CRCWSC CEO and 2018 Global Water Award laureate, Prof Tony Wong, who thanked them for acknowledging the significance of the paper and DFAT for supporting its development.
A networking session on irrigation benchmarking was also facilitated between FAO, IWMI, ADB and AWP. The session provided an opportunity to engage ADB officers in a discussion on a potential new project to update irrigation benchmarking tools. There was clear interest from those present and insightful suggestions made on how the revised tools could be developed, particularly focussing on datasets that have become more widely available since the development of the original benchmarking tools.
The ADB Asia Water Forum was an excellent networking event for AWP and its Partners and an opportunity to highlight Australia’s many innovative tools, products and initiatives that can advance water security.