Asia-Pacific Water Forum (APWF), which Japan Water Forum conducts the secretariat, and Kumamoto City successfully organized the 4th Asia-Pacific Water Summit (APWS) on 23 (Sat)-24 (Sun)April 2022 under the theme of “Water for Sustainable Development: best practices and the next generation.”
We organized the 4th APWS in a hybrid format of Kumamoto Castle Hall and online. We originally planned to hold it in October 2020, but we had to postpone the global spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and other factors. On the other hand, the need to accelerate action while reviewing past measures to improve water security became more apparent. Therefore, we provided an opportunity for the government leaders to express their countries’ practices to each government leader and confirm and gain confidence that the government leader’s strong leadership is essential to solving water issues.
As a result, Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress kindly participate in the 4th APWS online. In addition, his Majesty gave his commemorative lecture titled”Heart, Minds and Water ～Touching Water in People’s Beliefs ～
Moreover, as a host country representative, we were honored to have Prime Minister Fumio Kishida participate in the 4th APWS at Kumamoto Castle Hall and deliver the keynote speech at the Head of State and Government (HSG) Meeting in addition to his opening address in the Opening Ceremony. From other countries, 17 HSG, 19 ministers (Table 1), 28 leaders of international organizations, and ambassadors in Tokyo participated in the 4th APWS. The “Kumamoto Declaration,” the outcome of the 4th APWS, was adopted unanimously by the HSG who participated in the 4th APWS. Furthermore, we were able to organize the 9 Parallel Thematic Sessions, 4 Integration Sessions, and 2 Special Sessions by gaining the cooperation and collaboration from experts and practitioners, etc., to kindly respond to the questions from the HSG in line with the Kumamoto Declaration. As the achievement of these discussions, we were also able to adopt the 4th APWS Chairs Summary in the Closing Ceremony.
２． Discussion of the 4th APWS and the Achievements
We organized the 4th APWS to share forward-looking solutions and practices with HSG and support their policy decisions to accelerate actions to develop a resilient, inclusive, and sustainable society by resolving various water-related issues in the recovery of COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific. We also organized it to promote further collaboration among the domestic and international multi-stakeholders to support developing such societies.
The APWF Secretariat discussed with the experts and practitioners of domestic and international organizations several times what is necessary for the Asia-Pacific region to recover from the Covid-19 by addressing water issues and a complex array of related problems to enable sustainable development over the next generations. We then achieved the consensus and defined quality-oriented growth as the growth that satisfies all three factors: (1) Resilience to the meteorological phenomena, flood, and drought intensified by chancing climate, maintaining or restoring a sound water cycle; (2) Inclusiveness, ensuring that no one will be left beyond, irrespective of gender, including the poor and socially vulnerable, in access to safe water and sanitation, as well as food and nutrition, measures to water-related disasters and water resources management; and (3) Sustainability to protect and maintain social activities and environment. We also made the framework of discussion to promote the necessary measures from both structural and non-structural measures to realize the quality growth in Asia and the Pacific through the opportunity of the 4th APWS. Below I share the results of each of the 4th APWS programs.
At the Opening Ceremony of the 4th APWS, Mr. Yoshiro Mori, Chair of the Joint Executive Committee of the 4th APWS, President of the APWF, and former Prime Minister of Japan, delivered his opening remarks. He highlighted that water is the cornerstone of national and regional prosperity, that human wisdom is required to accept and share the blessings and threats of water, and that resolving water issues is essential to achieving human security in environmental, economic, and social linkages.
His Majesty the Emperor kindly gave us his remarks that he hoped that the leaders of countries participating in the Summit would share their visions and thoughts. International organizations, national agencies, NGOs, experts, and many others are expected to bring together their wisdom through discussions and try to find solutions for various water challenges and turn them into concrete action. He sincerely hoped that this 4th APWS would bear fruitful results and become a momentous step towards meeting water challenges in the Asia-Pacific Region and around the world, thereby bringing about peace and happiness for all human beings.
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan, delivered his opening address. He kindly mentioned the one who governs water governs the country. Governing water greatly contributes to resolving social issues on a global scale. He emphasized that political leaders have the duty to spearhead efforts to address water issues to facilitate resilient and sustainable development.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres kindly gave us his video message and noted the progress in the world toward achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is severely off track. He emphasized prioritizing financing to improve water management, better cooperation to enhance resilience, and accelerated action.
As the representation from the 4th APWS organizers, Mr. Mark Pascoe, the new chair of the APWF Governing Council, shared the overview of the APWF, the achievement of the past APWS, and expressed his enthusiasm for the 4th APWS and dissemination of the achievement toward water-related SDGs and quality growth in Asia and the Pacific. Mr. Kazufumi Onishi, Mayor of Kumamoto, introduced the measures for groundwater conservation in Kumamoto city, and their activities are highly evaluated worldwide, as seen in 2013 the United Nations Best Water Practices award, “Water for Life.” He also conveyed a message of appreciation for the support Kumamoto City received from people in Japan and overseas and hoped to stage a strong rally after the Kumamoto earthquake in April 2016.
Two high school students of Kumamoto Kita high school declared the commencement of the 4th APWS in English.
Please kindly refer to the memorial lectures by his His Majesty the Emperor entitled “Hearts, Minds, and Water -Touching Water in People’s Beliefs-” from:
Commemorative Speech (web site of the Imperial Household Agency (Kunaicho))
Commemorative Speech Presentation (web site of the Imperial Household Agency (Kunaicho))
（2）Heads of State and Government (HSG) Meeting, the adoption of the Kumamoto Declaration, and High-level Statement Segment
In the HSG meeting on the afternoon of 23rd April, we conducted the final discussion of the “Kumamoto Declaration,” the outcome document of the 4th APWS. The Kumamoto Declaration document was adopted unanimously by the HSG who participated in the 4th APWS. The Kumamoto Declaration signaled the Heads of State and Government’s determination. The HSG has reached a collective understanding that recovery from the pandemic requires transformation into quality-oriented societies that are resilient, sustainable, and inclusive. HSGs determined to strengthen quality infrastructure development for the water sector, integrating hard and soft components, including knowledge, information, and data management, to realize a quality-oriented society. To break free from the conventional approach and accelerate efforts, HSGs determined to conduct three things: (1) improve governance, (2) Close the financial gap, and (3) appeal to the science and technology community.
The draft document was shared with all 47 countries invited to the 4th APWS through diplomatic channels for comments and feedback on adopting the Kumamoto Declaration. We also hold the preparation meeting online with the countries supposed to join the 4th APWS. By each country of Asia and the Pacific confirming the draft document and sharing the feedback for the revision, the Kumamoto Declaration gains ownership of each Asia and Pacific country for the implementation, which are also a vital accomplishment of the 4th APWS.
In the HSG meeting, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida launched the Kumamoto Initiative for Water. He declared that Japan would commit to leading the implementation of measures to develop quality infrastructure by making use of Japan’s advanced technologies, thereby simultaneously contributing to addressing water and the social issues and sustainable economic development in the Asia-Pacific region, centering on two approaches: (1) implementation of measures for climate change adaptation and mitigation, and (2) measures to improve people’s basic living environments. He also announced that Japan would provide financial assistance worth approximately 500 billion yen (nearly 4 billion dollars) over the next five years to the Asia and the Pacific region.
The HSGs acknowledged and supported the Kumamoto Initiative for Water. The 17 HSGs also delivered their statement about water challenges in each country, shared the measures to achieve quality-oriented development and water-related SDGs, and emphasized each leader’s initiative to solve various water challenges from the recovery of the Covid-19 pandemic. Following the HSG meeting, 16 Asia and Pacific ministers also delivered their statement to realize quality-oriented growth. Furthermore, 28 heads of international organizations and ambassadors of Asia and the Pacific region in Tokyo also delivered their speeches in the High-Level Statement Segment.
（3）Holding the 9 parallel thematic sessions, 2 Special Sessions, and 4 Integration Sessions, and the adoption of the 4th APWS Chairs Summary
The HSGs who participated in the 4th APWS asked the questions to address the barriers, breakthroughs, opportunities, and ways forward for reform and improvement in governance, finance, and science and technology to leaders, experts, scientists, and all participants gathered at the 4th APWS and answered the questions as the part of the outcomes of the 4th APWS. To answer the questions, we organized the nine parallel thematic sessions on the afternoon of Day1 and the morning of Day2 of the 4th APWS.
In each parallel thematic session, the session conveners clarified considerations for achieving the water-related SDGs and ensuring “quality-oriented growth,” discussed the actions needed to steadily develop “quality-oriented infrastructure” from both structural and non-structural measures from the perspectives of governance, finance, and science and technology, and disseminated their policy recommendations. In addition, they also presented the approaches to solve water challenges following the situation of each country. Please also refer to the publication about the 4th APWS showcase and the roadmap.
We also organized the two special sessions: (1) Showcase, which shared the ranging from local to national levels as lessons learned toward the quality-oriented growth in Asia and the Pacific, and (2) Small Islands State (SIS) Session, which focused on the challenges of SIS of Asia and the Pacific.
In the afternoon of the Day2, we hold the 4 integration sessions. The session conveners of Science and Technology, Governance, and Finance, respectively, presented the concrete measures and actions, summarizing the messages and proposals comprehensively from the nine parallel thematic sessions and answering the questions from the HSGs.
Furthermore, the overall integration session “Building Post-Covid World Back Better through Water – Actions and Commitments from Kumamoto to the World-were also organized. The representative of the above 3 integration sessions delivered their key messages introducing their session outcomes. In addition, it also discussed how to synchronize the result of the 4th APWS with previous and succeeding preparatory processes such as the Bonn Conference, the 9th World Water Forum, and the 2022 Dushanbe Process and what is necessary to deliver our common messages to the UN 2023 Midterm Review Conference.
The outcomes of this overall integration session became the foundation of the 4th APWS Chairs summary, as the holistic outcomes of all nine thematics and three integration sessions.
In the closing ceremony, His Excellency. Dr. Han Seung-soo, Chair of HELP, Former Prime Minister of Korea, and Her Excellency. Ms. Yoko Kamikawa, MP, House of Representatives, and Former Minister of Justice, Japan, delivered the summary of the discussion of the overall integration session. Based on the synopsis, Mr. Mark Pascoe read out the Preamble of the 4th APWS Chairs Summary on behalf of Mr. Mori, the Chair of the Joint Executive Committee of the 4th APWS and President of the APWF, and the 4th APWS Chairs summary was adopted.
The Chair’s Summary shows the pathway toward quality-oriented growth with developing a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive society. It is part of the Kumamoto Declaration process by answering the questions by HSG at the 4th APWS. Furthermore, it also proposes Water, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk, which were discussed in parallel thematic sessions cross-cuttingly and be one of the main pillars of the Kumamoto Initiative for Water, should be a key topic in the global process, notably the UN 2023 Water Conference. The Chair’s summary also emphasizes that all multi-stakeholders should keep their steady progress and decision steps towards solving every water challenge and building a quality society in Asia, the Pacific, and the world.
4th APWS Chair’s Summary：
3． Follow-up of the 4th APWS
In preparing the 4th APWS by the hybrid format of the Kumamoto Jo Hall and Online under the limited resources of Japan Water Forum, we struggled to prepare for the “summit” in light of uncertainties regarding the number of cases of COVID-19infection in Japan and overseas, but we were able to organize the 4th APWS in cooperation with Kumamoto City and the Japanese Government. We cordially appreciate all who kindly give us various support and collaboration to the Japan Water Forum toward implementing the 4th APWS.
We would like to acknowledge Mr. Ravi Narayanan, former CEO of WaterAid, for his contributions as Chair of the APWF Governing Council from the establishment of the APWF in 2006 until the completion of the 4th APWS, along with various helpful advice to the APWF activities of the Japan Water Forum, including the APWS. Due to health reasons, Mr. Ravi Narayaran stepped down as Chair of the APWF Governing Council. We conducted the alternating ceremony of the APWF Governing Council Chair from Mr. Narayanan to Mr. Mark Pascoe, CEO of the International Water Centre of Griffith University, Australia, during the closing ceremony.
In preparing the 4th APWS, we were able to position the 4th APWS as one of the milestones for the mid-term review of the International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028 (the Water Action Decades) of the UN resolution.
The UN Conference for the Midterm Review of the Water Action Decade will be held in March 2023 at the UN Headquarters, which focuses on water for the first time in 46 years since the one in Mar del Plata in 1977. The Japan Water Forum will disseminate the Kumamoto Declaration, the 4th APWS Chairs Summary, and “Showcase and Roadmap for quality-oriented growth in Asia and the Pacific,” which summarize the wisdom and recommendations of the Asia-Pacific region. We will continue to work with various policymakers, experts, and practitioners in Japan and overseas to contribute to resolving water issues in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.
Moreover, we will conduct the measures to ensure meaningful engagement of all youth in policy, decision-making and monitoring of water fields collaborating with Japanese and international multi-stakeholders, referring to “Message from Youth” delivered at the closing ceremony of the 4th APWS by representatives of youth from the Asia-Pacific region and high school students from Fukuoka Japan.
(Reported by Yumiko Asayama, Manager)
Table 1： Countries of HSG and Ministers participated in the 4th APWS
○ 4th APWS Program Book （Please refer to the thematic sessions’ overview and the conveners）
○ 4th APWS Recordings
You can watch the recordings through the registration to the 4th APWS online platform https://www.4apws-kumamoto2022.jp/
○ Earth Negotiation Bulletin’s IISD report coverage of the 4th APWS.
Daily highlight (23rd April) https://enb.iisd.org/4th-asia-pacific-water-summit-23April2022
Daily highlight (24th April) https://enb.iisd.org/4th-asia-pacific-water-summit-24April2022
○ “Kumamoto Initiative for Water”