Outcomes from the 20th International Riversymposium

AWP and Australian Partners attended the 20th International Riversymposium (IRS) on 18-20 September in Brisbane to meet and engage with international colleagues involved in projects in river basin management and environmental watering. AWP ran two sessions on these topics and was one of several main exhibitors.

River Basins Session

A session on Lessons from Australian efforts to support river basin water reform projects in Asia aimed to draw out some lessons from river basin management projects in three countries – India, Myanmar and Vietnam – involving collaborations between Australian and Asian experts.AWP CEO Prof Nick Schofield chaired the session with AWP Partner speakers:

  • David Harriss, Access Water Management, on Supporting policy and institutional reform for river basin planning in India;
  • Tarek Ketelsen, AMPERES, on Water reform in the Ayeyarwady basin: supporting Myanmar to develop an integrated river basin planning process; and
  • Rob Rendell, RM Consulting Group, and Greg Holland, Jacobs, on Building and managing modernised conjunctive groundwater/surface irrigation systems for high-value agriculture in Vietnam.

Lessons to emerge from the session include the importance of relationships between collaborators to the success of projects, and acknowledgement that the scale of water management issues and the political environment may make basin planning difficult.

Environmental Watering Session

A session co-hosted with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office on Delivering environmental water: the role of government, NGOs and the community aimed to highlight lessons learned from developing environmental watering arrangements in Australia, with a focus on the challenges governments face in engaging the community in delivering environmental water. The session was chaired by two emerging water professionals – Lisa Walpole (Alluvium Consulting) and Nosheen Mohsan (Flinders University) – with participation from:

  • David Papps, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, on Community participation in environmental water delivery to achieve Basin-wide outcomes;
  • Justen Simpson, New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, on Lessons from engaging with key stakeholders in the state of New South Wales; and
  • Hugo Hopton, Nature Foundation South Australia, on Facilitating involvement of local communities in environmental water delivery within State and National frameworks.

The audience heard how those working in environmental watering at the federal, state, and local scales are both reliant on one another and important in their own right.

The Exhibition

AWP was pleased to participate again this year as one of several key exhibitors, with highlights including the opportunity for AWP staff to engage with people from the water sector – creating potential opportunities for collaboration on Kini – and the positive experience for AWP Partners who presented at the AWP sessions.

“From the perspective of the value in attending the Symposium to AWP specialists, experiences from Australia, the developing world (particularly Asia), and North America were well represented. These experiences and case studies provided AWP participants with insight into both the diversity and similarities in water management in an economic, environmental and social/cultural context.  This exposure was highly informative to Australian specialists who through various AWP projects, work across a diverse range and scales of catchments and in a range of social/political contexts,” reported one of the presenters.

Another presenter states, “I was really taken and moved by the vision and perseverance of indigenous people in not only protecting rivers and their ecosystems but helping us to understand how to appreciate their importance in a way that is quite alien to western thinking and philosophy… Finally, it became apparent that water managers in Australia are like prophets in their own land.  The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is a stand-out globally, and yet this mighty achievement is not valued and is even being undermined by some powerful interests.  The need for the community to stand up and be counted was poignant.”

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