- Reseach project
- – Western Pacific
Read the latest updates about the International WaterCentre, as well as contemporary water sector insights, water management news, and conversations with researchers, practitioners and students, from both Australia and abroad.
How do we define good water governance? And why is it important to achieve Integrated Water Management outcomes? These questions are fundamental to progressing water management towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Global Water Partnership has developed this interactive map that documents where they have had influence in trans-boundary or country focused water governance such as the Mekong River Basin. These agreements, policies, laws and guidelines demonstrate how they are strengthening institutions to progress towards the SDGs. However, this is only part of the story. While there are significant human resources and diplomatic effort required to negotiate water management protocols, having these alone is not enough to ensure that water is governed in an efficient or equitable manner. In order to achieve good water governance we need to understand how these documents are being used and if we are able to measure the impact these agreements are having on people and the environment. Van der Bliek et al (2014) explains that water governance needs to be context specific. Furthermore, the article emphasises that people conceptualise water governance differently in a spatial and geographic context. Therefore, simply having water governance targets in the SDGs will not mean that water security issues will be solved by 2030. We need to be thinking broader than governance frameworks and institutions, and engage all stakeholders in a meaningful way to understand the functioning of enabling environments and draw out lessons for regional and trans-boundary development. Van der Bliek calls for a country specific, or indeed regional, benchmark to understand that water needs are spatial in nature and in turn require integrated solutions.
On the 19 and 20 June 2018, the International WaterCentre (IWC) visited Hanoi city in Vietnam to facilitate the final activities of the Australian Awards Fellowship (AAF) program titled Improving Water, Land and Ecosystems Sustainability in the Mekong Delta. This training program was funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and commenced on November 2017, with a four-week study tour in Australia for 15 Fellows representing the Vietnamese Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), and Planning and Investment (MPI), all with a role in the governance and management of the Mekong Delta. This study tour focused on building Fellows’ skills and knowledge in Integrated River Basin Management, through engagement with Australian experts and case-studies across Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra and regional NSW, including sections of the Murray Darling Basin. To enable the translation of lessons learnt in Australia to the Mekong Delta context, IWC supported Fellows in the development of return-to-work plans, or “Change Projects”, which outlined a six-month action plan, and aimed to initiate processes of innovation in the Fellows’ water sector. Three “Change Projects” were defined: (i) enabling more sustainable livelihoods, (ii) addressing water quality issues from agricultural practices, and (iii) “smoothing” water data sharing among stakeholders.
Sustainable development will only be achieved through connecting, collaborating and accelerating ideas to action, and Australia’s Young Water Professionals have the ability and responsibility to lead the way. This was the key message during the fifth Australian Young Water Professional Conference in Melbourne last week.