The 2nd Asia Pacific Water Summit recently took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand with a focus on 'Water Security and Water-related Disaster Challenges: Leadership and Commitment'.
The week-long summit, which hosted over 1,000 delegates from Asia Pacific countries and international organizations including IUCN, aimed to encourage regional cooperation among leaders to ensure regional water security in the face of rapid growth, natural disasters and climate change. Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, addressing threats to water security and water-related disasters in Asia Pacific, said, "No country in this region can handle these challenges alone."
Mark Smith, Director of the IUCN Global Water Programme, affirmed the need for stakeholders to come together to solve water issues. “Cooperation is the basis for sustainable solutions for water security needed in this region and worldwide. Where we see this cooperation work best, is where it takes place locally, nationally and across borders”, he said.
Dr Smith cited examples of IUCN’s work in the region, namely the Building River Dialogue and Governance (BRIDGE) project in the Sekong, Sesan and Sre Pok basins, where IUCN is working with the governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam to enhance water governance, and the 'Ecosystems for Life Initiative' in Bangladesh and India, which utilizes a multi-stakeholder dialogue and research process to develop a shared vision for natural resource management.
“Livelihood issues, and the need for clean and safe water to maintain ecosystems are the same, be it in Bangladesh or Japan. Cooperation should incorporate investment in the environment as critical natural infrastructure that can provide livelihoods, support production, lower disaster risk and build climate change resilience’, said Ganesh Pangare, Head of the Ecosystems and Livelihoods Group, Asia. “Countries in Asia Pacific are facing similar problems and can benefit from sharing knowledge and best practices,” he added.
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