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APWF Co-organized the 5 sessions in the Stockholm World Water Week 2023 “ Collaborate to Accelerate: Innovating for future-focused water security“

Collaborate to Accelerate: Innovating for future-focused water security

  • Wednesday 23 August, 8:00 am – 9:00am CEST (60 minutes)
  • Convenors: Asian Development Bank, Asia-Pacific Water Forum, Australian Water Partnership, Global Water Partnership, Imagine H2O.

The session discussed the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration to successfully test, validate, and embed future-focused innovation in the water sector. The discussion revolved around the drivers, barriers, and enablers for collaborative innovations on digitalization, NBS, WASH, climate change, and water-nexus approaches supported by case studies. During the presentation and interaction with the audience, this session aimed to discuss what collaboration approaches were, what worked, what did not, and what was the impact (outcomes) of the collaboration.

Mr. Satoshi Ishii, Director, Strategy and Partnerships Team, Water and Urban Development Sector Office, Sectors Group, ADB, delivered his opening remarks. He firstly mentioned the gathering through this session aimed to address the pressing challenge of sustainable water management, recognizing that traditional approaches are no longer sufficient. The “Collaborate to Innovate” session aimed to catalyze change, urging diverse stakeholders—government agencies, regulators, the private sector, finance providers, and local communities—to unite. The goal is to create an ecosystem of shared insights and collaborative solutions, fostering the much-needed water sector transformation. The session explored successful multi-stakeholder collaborations, emphasizing trust, transparency, and open dialogue. Participants would learn the benefits of collaborative approaches for the water sector, contributing to effective, positive change for a more sustainable world.

Mr. Geoffrey Wilson, Senior Water Resources Specialist, ADB, emphasized that the best way to address the many challenges that affect us all in the water sector is to work with the technology startups, universities, customers, and financiers who are the players in the water business. The water sector involves numerous stakeholders facing challenges in delivering services under financial constraints. Collaboration is crucial to address issues and improve water service delivery. The ADB developed the Water Resilience Hub as an open platform for capacity building, knowledge sharing, and fostering partnerships. The hub focuses on connecting, collaborating, and capacitating individuals and organizations interested in the water sector. ADB also emphasizes digitalization to enhance resilience, partnering with organizations like Imagine H2O Asia for the Accelerating Innovation and Digitalization program. The program supports upskilling, pilot testing, and knowledge sharing. ADB’s e-marketplaces showcase digital technologies, and the twinning program supports water entities to improve sustainability and resilience. The aim is to build capacities for a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive water sector in Asia and the Pacific.

Ms. Sarah Ransom, General Manager, Australian Water Partnership (AWP) emphasized the importance of collaborative partnerships in addressing water challenges. Their partnership model focuses on trust, mutual respect, and cooperative relationships to foster innovation. AWP, initiated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, matches Australian water expertise with international development needs, mainly in the Indo-Pacific region. With around 240 partners, AWP employs co-design approaches, flexibility, and a focus on traditional knowledge to address complex issues like climate change and social inclusion. Examples include utility twinning programs and initiatives supporting women in the water workforce. The AWP team underscores the significance of skills, expertise, and a respectful, collaborative approach in managing cross-sector and cross-cultural water partnerships.

Mr. Laurent-Charles Tremblay-Lévesque and Dr. Yumiko Yasuda, the Global Water Partnership (GWP), presented their innovation, the IWRM Action Hub, to foster partnerships for a water-secure world. The Action Hub is a global knowledge platform supporting actors in implementing integrated water resources management. The hub comprises three key components: Learn (a toolbox for learning and exploring resources), Explore (showcasing case studies and allowing comparisons), and Connect (creating communities of practice and networking). Examples include the Armenian Drought Management Community and the South Asia Youth Community, demonstrating the hub’s potential for enhancing coordination, knowledge-sharing, and engagement among water stakeholders globally.

Ms. Annamarie Martin, Senior Associate, Imagine H2O Asia, a Singapore-based NGO, focused on making water innovation more accessible in Asia. They support water tech entrepreneurs by designing and co-funding pilot projects in emerging markets. The Accelerating Innovation and Digitalization Program (AID), a collaboration with ADB, aims to test water technologies in the field. She highlighted two projects: One involving water ATMs in Bangladesh to address water service gaps and another in Uzbekistan testing a biodegradable hydrogel to reduce water consumption in agriculture. Imagine H2O stressed the importance of collaborative and ongoing value demonstration, transparency in motives, open feedback from stakeholders, and the impact of targeted, well-designed grants in achieving successful outcomes.

Mr. Theerawat Samphawamana, Director, Planning Division, The Mekong River Commission Secretariat, presented its proactive regional planning, an ongoing process driven by collaborative efforts from member countries and stakeholders. The planning addresses challenges in the Mekong River Basin, including floods, droughts, erosion, and climate change impact. Proactive regional planning integrates water, food, energy, and environmental needs, conducting assessments of benefits, costs, and threats. The goal is to develop an adaptive basin plan by 2027 through strategic studies, scenario assessments, and an upgraded Decision Support Framework. Key outputs include an upgraded Decision Support Framework and an adaptive basin plan supported by stakeholder engagement, consultation, and a rigorous process to ensure acceptance by member countries.

During the session, this session interacted with the audience using the Mentimeters.

Session Video :

(Reported by Yumiko Asayama, Chief Manager)

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