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Vietnam Water Stewardship workshop: from Risk to Resilience

As climate change, population growth, urbanisation and competing upstream users diminish water quality and availability, it has become apparent that all water users have a role in enhancing water security. Effective governance arrangements are critical to successfully implementing water security solutions over the mid to longer term. This includes factors such as stakeholder engagement, managing trade-offs and policy coherence.  

Many water security related efforts in Vietnam are either siloed within a specific sector or regarded as being of an engineering, technical or regulatory nature. There is a growing awareness of the need for joint action between major water users, water authorities, catchment managers and communities at the catchment level.  

The concept of water stewardship adds value by engaging with industrial, commercial, agricultural and domestic water users in understanding and collaborating on strategies to address shared water challenges. This approach brings together water users, water providers, and catchment managers to share an understanding of water issues and build a list of priority actions that all participants can apply to their individual circumstances.

In April 2024 Water Stewardship Australia held a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where participants were provided with training on water stewardship principles and how they can be applied at the catchment level. The overall aim was for participants to better understand the water stewardship approach and its relevance in Vietnam, and to distinguish water stewardship from the existing policies, practices, standards and frameworks and regulations in Vietnam. 

Water stewardship aims to achieve best practice across five outcomes: good water governance, sustainable water balance, good water quality, the healthy status of important water-related areas, and safer water, sanitation and hygiene for all.  By adopting and implementing water stewardship international standards, Vietnam’s water governance will improve, resulting in greater water resilience.  

Workshop participants had the opportunity to discuss possible collaborative actions by relevant actors at the catchment scale, how to hold each other accountable and how to take learnings from the workshop back to their business.

Group photo after workshop completion (Image: Water Stewardship Australia)

The event also delivered a unique platform for both public and private stakeholders to explore policy framework, financing, and cooperation opportunities as well as innovative solutions and initiatives to enhance water security in Vietnam. For the Australian Water Partnership and our delivery partner Water Stewardship Australia, the event helped to identify commitments from partners and influencers to begin the water stewardship journey in Vietnam. 

Hosted at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) campus, the event was attended by representatives from key Government of Vietnam agencies including Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment (MONRE), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Vietnam Water and Sewerage Association (VWSA), the private sector and NGOs, development partners and the Australian Embassy in Vietnam.

eWater Group CEO Michael Wilson, DFAT Vietnam Policy and Program Manager Linh Nguyen, Water Stewardship Australia CEO Sandra Hall (Image: Water Stewardship Australia)

Participants were enthusiastic about the opportunities for water stewardship in Vietnam. Mr Ha Thanh Lan, Head of Training and International Cooperation at Institute of Water Resources Planning (IWRP) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was grateful for the experience. He reflected: “I really appreciate the wealth of knowledge and insights about water stewardship and sustainable water management that were shared… I really hope Vietnam can move the water stewardship concept ahead.” 

Ms Hanh Nguyen, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Officer of UNICEF noted, “I had the opportunity to learn about stakeholder inclusive water stewardship, which includes site and catchment based actions. I believe water stewardship provides a platform for diverse perspective sharing from private and public sectors, academia and communities.” 

Overall, the event provided valuable opportunities for networking, knowledge sharing, bringing public and private sector actors closer in understanding each other challenges in determining shared water related risks. Most importantly, it helped to embed the concept of water stewardship in an institutional context and highlight its importance for addressing water security and climate challenges in Vietnam. 


Featured image: Workshop participants identifying shared catchment challenges and opportunities via interactive Nexus game. (Credit: Water Stewardship Asia Pacific)

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