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APWF Co-organized the 5 sessions in the Stockholm World Water Week 2023 “Adapting to Climate Change: Innovative Approaches to Water Governance“

3 Adapting to Climate Change: Innovative Approaches to Water Governance

  • 22nd August 11:00 am -12:30 pm CEST
  • Conveners: APWF, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), ADB, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International WaterCentre, Korea Water Forum, Water Integrity Network (WIN)

The session showcased innovative solutions and best practices from various sub-regions of Asia and the Pacific in managing water resources for climate change adaptation and the mitigation of the impacts of climate change. It explored the role of technology, community participation, and policy reforms in achieving effective water governance. These successful case studies inspired and catalyzed action toward building a sustainable and climate-resilient future for water resources, benefiting current and future generations.

Mr. Ervan Maksum, Deputy for Facilities and Infrastructure in the Ministry of National Development Planning, as member of the NOC of the10th World Water Forum, representing the Vice Chairman of the NOC, kindly delivered opening remarks for this session, on behalf of H.E. Dr. Ir. M. Basuki Hadimuljono  Minister of Public Works and Housing, Republic of Indonesia.

Dr. Regina Souter, Director, International WaterCentre, Griffith University, discussed innovations in rural community water management in the Pacific Island Countries, focusing on two aspects. Firstly, they aim to expand the enabling environment by involving non-water actors in the network. Secondly, they use social marketing to influence attitudes and mobilize collective action. The speaker highlights challenges in community-managed water systems, including technical and governance issues, and emphasizes the need for a shift from external project-based support to fostering self-sufficiency. The two innovations involve social marketing to influence attitudes through real success stories and leveraging existing social networks beyond traditional water actors. The goal is to improve water services and move towards professionalizing rural water supply in the Pacific by building on the strengths of existing governance and social systems.

Dr. Avi Sarkar Regional Advisor – South-East Asia, UBS, UN-Habitat, discussed the Climate Action Cycle for Water Governance model, which blends science and technology with strong community engagement to enhance the resilience of climate-impacted communities. Using the example of Laos, where climate hazards affect 50% of settlements annually, He outlined a cycle involving planning, vulnerability assessment, action planning, implementation, and reflection. The model emphasizes community participation, incorporating local knowledge and prioritizing actions collaboratively. The approach aims to achieve sustainable access to basic services, community preparedness for climate events, poverty reduction, and increased public awareness. The model’s success is attributed to community empowerment, strengthening local institutions, and promoting vertical integration to bridge knowledge gaps between national and local levels.

Dr. Giriraj Amarnath, Research Group Leader – Water Risk to Development and Resilience, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) discussed an ongoing climate resilience initiative focusing on the critical link between climate action and water governance. He emphasized a synoptic approach integrating technology, data, community involvement, and policy reforms for sustainable water management. The model considers key pillars such as data, technology, community knowledge, and stakeholder engagement. The Climate Resilience Initiative, spanning nine countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, adopts a multi-scale polycentric tool guide for improved coordination of large-scale projects. The program aims for transformative thinking in the face of climate extremes and focuses on social equity, sustainable climate financing, and empowering local champions of change. He outlined efforts in Sri Lanka, including developing a tool guide for multi-scale polycentric governance and evaluating transformative characteristics. The initiative also addresses community-level challenges and infrastructure needs, such as borehole installation, highlighting the importance of gender and youth inclusion in governance and innovation.

Dr. Tom Panela,  Director, Natural Capital Team, Agriculture, Food, Nature and Rural Development Sector Office, Sectors Group, Asian Development Bank, discussed ADB’s approach to improved water governance and adaptation planning in East Asia. Emphasizing the importance of raising clients’ capacity and awareness, ADB focuses on upstream engagement, incorporating risk analytics, country planning programs, and seeking concessional finance for climate projects. He highlighted the ongoing technical assistance in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), where the national climate change adaptation strategy 2035 is being implemented, focusing on the Yellow River basin. The initiative addresses the basin’s challenges, including water scarcity, runoff reduction, and extreme events, through a landscape approach, considering ecological, agricultural, and urban aspects. Additionally, He outlined ADB’s efforts in Mongolia, supporting three provinces in adaptation planning and emphasizing the role of civil society organizations and youth. Lessons learned include the critical link between finance and governance, the need for an enabling environment for private sector engagement, and the importance of innovation, transparency, and collaboration with local stakeholders for successful adaptation and water governance.

Mr. Takahiro Konami, Director, International Affairs Office, Water and Disaster Management Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, Tourism (MLIT) Japan, introduced Japanese legislative innovation in flood management, emphasizing that innovation doesn’t always involve creating new things but can involve revisiting historical practices. With the impacts of climate change, Japan has faced increased flood damage, prompting a shift in flood management policies. The innovative approach comprises three pillars: conventional flood protection, exposure reduction through land use management, and disaster resilience with early warning systems and drills. The policies are implemented through a basin-wide, community-involved approach, including various ministries and local governments. He highlights that while these approaches seem new, they draw inspiration from historical practices, emphasizing the importance of reviewing local and indigenous knowledge for practical innovation in addressing climate change challenges.

Dr. Eun Namkung, Vice-president of Korea Water Forum, presented Korea’s approach to integrating water and climate change management. Korea faces water-related challenges, including floods, droughts, heat waves, and typhoons. He highlighted mitigation efforts, focusing on energy efficiency, water-saving programs, and alternative water resources like wastewater reuse and desalination. Regarding renewable energy, Korea implements the Re100 program in water treatment plants. The speaker emphasizes developing climate-proof water infrastructure, such as levees and dams designed for increased frequency, and controlling urban flooding through projects like deep rainwater storage and drainage tunnels in Seoul. Additionally, Korea pursues digital and green transformations, incorporating technologies like IoT, big data, artificial intelligence, and renewable energy into water management systems. He also introduced an urban flood control system in major cities like Seoul.

Representing the Water Integrity Network, Dr Mary Galvin, Research Co-ordinator Water Integrity Network, emphasized their global focus on promoting integrity in water and sanitation. Collaborating with partners in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, the organization emphasizes preventive measures over chasing corruption cases, aiming to suggest broad approaches and specific interventions. She has extensive work in community-based climate change adaptation in water.

She presented how WIN built integrity into the early stages of climate adaptation, particularly in large-scale water projects, crucial for highly vulnerable regions like Bangladesh. With the country requiring about $230 billion for the 2023-2050 adaptation plan, she underscored the need for robust mechanisms to contain or minimize integrity risks. Corruption undermines successful projects, making integrity vital for effective fund utilization.

A framework was presented with the Infrastructure Transparency Initiative. Focused on planning and preparation stages, it identifies unusual patterns to flag potential integrity risks, guiding stakeholders to ask pertinent questions during policy development and investment allocation.

In the Bangladesh context, an integrity assessment revealed strong existing laws, policies, and structures, but weaknesses in monitoring, evaluation, and disclosure of execution. The framework supplements these gaps by emphasizing transparency, accountability, and participation. Access to data aids decision-making, location insights highlight unintended consequences and budget breakdowns expose potential biases. Accountability benefits from clarified data and vetting systems, while participation involves open engagement at the planning stage.

In conclusion, she stressed the essential role of integrity champions within government agencies and stakeholders, encouraging the use of the framework to strengthen climate adaptation in Bangladesh. Minimizing corruption risks and ensuring equity is crucial for the success of both large-scale infrastructure and community-based adaptation projects, contributing to Bangladesh’s resilient future.

Ms. Changhua Wu and Ms. Yumiko Asayama, APWF, moderated the panel discussion.

The panel discussion focused on climate adaptation and water governance, with speakers sharing insights and proposals for the 10th World Water Forum. Key points included the need for creative and innovative approaches to expand the reach of climate adaptation efforts. Dr. Namkung emphasized the importance of an integrated approach that considers both adaptation and mitigation. Dr. Panella highlighted the importance of knowledge sharing and experience exchange at the regional level.

From UN-Habitat’s perspective, Dr. Sarkar shared their focus was on making existing settlements resilient to reduce the need for large-scale migration. Dr. Amarnath discussed the Climate-Smart Governance Dashboard as a planning tool for coordination and collaboration among ministries and development partners.

Mr. Konami stressed the importance of sharing indigenous knowledge and historical experiences to promote cross-scale learning. Ms. Mary underscored the challenge of integrating checks on integrity breaches within systems, emphasizing the need for a more holistic approach to addressing corruption risks.

In summary, the discussion highlighted the urgency of addressing climate challenges, the importance of local-level actions, the need for integrated approaches, and the significance of knowledge sharing and accountability in achieving effective water governance and climate adaptation.

Session video

(Reported by Yumiko Asayama, Chief Manager)

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