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Summary of 4th APWF webinar

The Asia-Pacific Water Forum (APWF) has organized the APWF webinar series as a part of the important preparation process for the 4th APWS. The objective of the APWF webinar series is to widen and deep-dive into the knowledge of government officials from 49 countries in Asia and the Pacific, including those working in Japanese embassies and the practitioners in the world, and to hold discussions on the latest water and water-related issues from different perspectives.

The 4th APWF webinar was organized on 26th November 2020. Dr. Torkil Jønch Clausen, Chair, Action Platform for Source to Sea Management, talked about Integrated Water Resources Management from Source to Sea – linking the Water SDG 6 and Ocean SDG 14.

Dr. Torkil Jønch Clausen explained the essential concept of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) andargued the way forward to the achievement of water and ocean SDGs. Dr. Clausen highlighted that SDG agenda tells us it was necessary to address the institutional fragmentations by linking water SDG6 and ocean SDG14 to ensure water is managed inclusively across sectors and administrative levels. This calls for thinking and acting holistic and integrated on water from source to sea understanding the cycle and flow, introducing the key points as follows. 

1. The implementation of IWRM is key
There is increased competition for water not only within a country between users but also between countries in transboundary basins. It is thus required for effective water governance. Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) is recognized as Target 5 of SDG 6: “By 2030, implement Integrated Water Resource Management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate”.  IWRM builds on approaches to balance for livelihood and water as a resource with the three pillars of economic efficiency, social equity, and environmental sustainability with the provision of management instruments, enabling environment, and the institutional framework. Water is used for drinking, food, nature, energy, industry and the other uses and there are a bunch of very real problems, such as urban, water- energy- food security, and water pollutions, etc. It is thus necessary to link SDG2 (food), SDG6 (water), and SDG7 (energy), and implement the integrated approach across sectors through discussion with all stakeholders’ participation.

2. The view from Source-to-Sea
The UN conducted the survey about the IWRM in 2017. According to the survey, 80% of countries in the Asia and Pacific reported that they have laid the foundation for IWRM. The region offers good examples of IWRM development at all levels, including transboundary, such as e.g., the Mekong River Basin. It is positive note that Asia-Pacific is making progress on IWRM.
 However, more than 80% of the world’s wastewater has been flowing untreated to the sea, and plastic production has increased twenty-fold over the last 50 years. The overexploitation in water basins and the over fisheries put pressure on natural habitat for fish. 80-90% of the marine debris is land-based, and 4-13 million-ton plastics enter the oceans every year. Fertilizers, nutrients, and other agricultural chemicals have also a huge effect on ocean. Virtually no marine area is unaffected by anthropogenic activities, and dead zones in coastal areas have spread exponentially due to the biodiversity’s loss and eutrophication. The oceans are paying the price for our unstainable freshwater management practices.
 For all these reasons, it is necessary to have the source-to-sea approach which take a holistic view from land and freshwater systems, estuaries deltas, coastline nearshore, adjoining sea, shelf, and open sea. It requires the innovative solutions which connect upstream and downstream stakeholders and engage with them, including public, private, and civil society.

3. The solution of SDG14 is the implementation of the practices of SDG6.
SDG14.1*1 and SDG14.2*2 are closely linked with the SDG6, which is the practices of land-based activities. If we consider the benefit of coastal areas, we will be able to make gains further to river basin management. It is important to link organically with land use planning, river basin planning, coastal and marine management planning by coordinating integrated approaches between urban and rural, as well as land and ocean.
 However, SDG 6 and SDG 14 are two silos with little connection. Both the stakeholders related to water as well as coastal and ocean fields, respectively, have identified their connections and issues they have to deal with, but real commitment to join hands is lacking, and there are significant differences about the perspectives, expertise, and the policy coordination processes to address the issues. Governance systems are too fragmented between different administrative boundaries and sectors. It is necessary for both stakeholders to reform the structure of governance to flexibly cope with the uncertainty toward the large-scale system change and the solutions to the challenges. We now need more coordination between sectoral priorities within river basins that stretch from mountains to coasts and oceans to make societies and ecosystems more resilient.
*1: “reduce pollution from land-based activities- including debris/plastic”
*2: “sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems”

4. Action Platform for Source to Sea management
Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) has established and support the Action Platform for Source-to-Sea Management (S2S Platform), which is a multi-stakeholder initiative that promotes collaborative action to improve the management of land, water, coastal and marine linkages. (
 S2S Platform is designed to stimulate cooperation between upstream and downstream stakeholders and coordination across sectors to ensure outcomes that mutually benefit systems. It also helps connect freshwater, coastal, and marine experts, generate, and share knowledge on S2S interconnection, and engage in collaborative projects, and take collaborative actions to improve the management of land, water, coastal and marine in an integrated and collaborative manner. The Platform partners will also be able to help the stakeholders to implement the S2S approach in projects and programs.
 The S2S Platform currently has 27 international, regional, and national partner organizations.  Asia-Pacific has a lot of experiences and expertise on S2S to offer and would in turn benefit from collaboration with partners from other regions of the world.  The Platform hopes to attract more partners from the Asia-Pacific region, from both the freshwater and ocean communities.
 As one of the concrete practices about S2S approach in Asia and the Pacific, the case of plastic waste management in Vu Gia-Thu Bon Basin was explained. 

The presentation document and the recording of the 4th APWF Webinar is available here.

The information of the past APWF webinar as well as the announcements of the future APWF webinars will be posted on the APWF website, as well as on JWF’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

(Reported by Yumiko Asayama, Manager)

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