Sharing Australian knowledge and expertise across the Asia-Pacific
Posted 20 August 2018
On Wednesday 11 July 2018, the Australian Water Association with support from the Australian Water Partnership facilitated a Water Challenges Forum as part of Singapore International Water Week activities. The forum was held to discuss a range of initiatives to be taken to confront the risks of climate change and urbanisation in the supply of safe, secure, efficient and sustainable water services.
The forum brought together many different stakeholders from across the Australian water sector and across Asia (Myanmar, Singapore, India and Samoa) including representatives from government, utilities, private sector, universities and NGOs. Each stakeholder was able to better understand the different roles being applied and the need for furthering partnerships and collaboration to address future water challenges and achieve sustainable water outcomes.
There were over 40 water professionals in attendance including many senior water professionals from the Australian water sector, AWA members and AWP Australia Partners who were able to share their knowledge across the forum.
Speakers and facilitators included:
- Roch Cheroux (SA Water)
- Mal Shepherd (John Holland Group)
- Adam Lovell (Water Services Association of Australia)
- Tony Wong (CRC for Water Sensitive Cities)
- Rachel Barratt (Water Industry Alliance)
- Annette Davison (Risk Edge)
- Aprilia Vellacott (Jacobs Group)
- Seugamaalii Jammie Saena (Samoa Water Authority)
- Asit Biswas (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy)
- Stella Saris (ANZ)
The presentations and discussion highlighted the progress that had been achieved and how much more progress is to be made to confront the challenges of climate change and urban growth. For example, Roch Cheroux, Chief Executive Officer of SA Water explained to the audience that to address urban growth challenges by using technology, 75% of SA Water activities are now proactive allowing SA Water to undertake repairs without disruptions to customers.
Climate change has become a huge threat for the livelihoods of Pacific Islanders. This was demonstrated by Ms Jammie Saena, Managing Director of Samoa Water Authority who showed that because of irregular rainfall patterns and groundwater extraction along the coastline, saltwater intrusion has occurred, forcing many communities to move in land and away from traditional water sources.
Following each of the presentations, there was an identified need to further the conversation about how Australia can support the Pacific and Asian countries to address climate change while at the same time learning from countries who have excelled in community engagement and the use of technology. Further, there was a consensus that to address implementation barriers, all water sectors must be open to sharing more knowledge with each other and forums like these are a good way of bringing many stakeholders together to discuss solutions to future water challenges.
Many observations were also provided which focused on opportunities for which the exchange of Australian water expertise would be valued. These included (but were not limited to) the development and implementation of:
- Water quality risk management tools and frameworks,
- Water operator training,
- Diversity and inclusion,
- Stakeholder engagement,
- Customer engagement; and
- Policy development.