[Sponsored Report] Asia delves into water solutions with AWHoT
Yesterday, K-water hosted the 4th Asian Water High Level Round Table (AWHoT) at the Hotel Hyundai in Gyeongju. During the event, 29 representatives from countries all over Asia discussed local and regional water problems and exchanged opinions for possible solutions to different case studies.
Participants included ministers and vice ministers from Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos and Uzbekistan. Officials from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank also attended.
Since June 2014, three meetings have been held for member organizations of AWHoT. Water conflicts and crises tend to be complicated, often with multiple stakeholders from many regions and countries tangled together on a single issue. Conflicting interests are inevitable and clear solutions are difficult to come up with.
As the world increasingly suffers from climate change, environmental pollution and desertification, water-related disasters and pollution problems have become more severe.
In response, K-water has hosted a series of conferences through AWHoT to encourage neighboring countries to take part in transnational efforts to overcome water problems. This time, the event was held to serve as a venue to focus specifically on finding actual solutions to complex water problems.
Previous AWHoT sessions were more inclined to sorting out organizational issues and analyzing the problems that have to be tackled. This time, the meeting focused on discussing who needs to do what in order to minimize the harms of current and potential water issues.
Members at the round table discussed numerous topics. In the second meeting last October, water supply and sanitation, water resources infrastructure and financing, and the relationship between water and energy were all prioritized. Members continued to discuss these topics in the most recent meeting.
Furthermore, participants in the meeting examined the water issues related to the Aral Sea and the Mekong River Basin. These case studies have become representative examples of complicated water problems that need immediate attention.
In addressing each of these topics, various solutions were sought through panel discussions. The members of each panel, focusing on a single topic, envisioned optimal scenarios for overcoming different water crises. Meanwhile, mutual cooperation between organizations and countries was constantly emphasized as a major goal.
The meeting included the release event for the book “Insight into Asian Water,” a collaborative work between eleven countries. The book was written to archive water resource conditions in Asia as well as management statuses across the continent.
The Asia Water Council (AWC) was also launched during the meeting to bring about more systematic regional cooperation on water issues.
On a global level, the World Water Council (WWC) serves as an organization that promotes awareness of water issues and encourages action to be taken toward water sustainability. As the founder and co-organizer of the World Water Forum, the WWC has led many initiatives emphasizing the value of water in the global community.
But the WWC, which consists of 300 member organizations, may not be able to narrow down its scopes to concentrate on local or regional issues. Therefore, the establishment of the AWC is crucial to provide closer networking opportunities among Asian countries and organizations.
Currently, Indonesia’s minister of public works, the vice president of the ADB and the board chairman of Korea International Cooperation Agency have shown support for the establishment of the AWC. In addition, members of AWHoT have also declared their desire to participate.
The group of experts and representatives will seek to solve the complex problems related to water resources. When different stakeholders participate in a joint initiative with long-term goals, better coordination for water management can take place. If a regional organization dedicated exclusively to solving water issues is created, commitment to those issues will substantially increase.
There are high expectations for the future of the AWC.
The council hopes to host the first Asia Water Week in 2016. This event will act as a platform for discussing sustainable development goals, with a central focus on water issues in Asia.
Participants in the event will also promote the Smart Water Management Initiative and brainstorm solutions for water issues in the region.
“Korea is a country with ample experience and expertise when it comes to water management,” said K-water CEO Choi Gyewoon.
“For the fourth time now, we successfully organized AWHoT meetings, and all participants agree that cooperation is essential. By collaborating on devising substantive solutions, members of AWHoT and AWC should actively contribute to resolving water issues.”