IWA at the Asia Water Forum

The Asia Water Forum (AWF) took place virtually on 8-11 August 2022. Organised annually by the Asian Development Bank, the forum is one of the main platforms to discuss water issues in Asia, and to share knowledge and experience on water information, innovation, and technology across the region. Under the theme of “Towards a Resilient and Water Secure Asia and the Pacific”, the AWF discussed topics related to: (i) water as a sustainable resource; (ii) universal water and sanitation services; (iii) productive water in agriculture and the economy; and (iv) climate change and water-related risks.

To highlight the ongoing partnership between the International Water Association and the Asian Development Bank on (but not limited to) water issues, IWA representatives and members joined the online event contributing as speakers, session organisers and rapporteurs.

Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy, IWA’s Executive Director, participated in the Second High-Level panel on “The Digital Water Revolution in Asia and the Pacific”. The panel discussed the opportunities and constraints for digital transformation in the water sector. According to IWA’s Executive Director, the digital transformation will enable the water sector to transition towards a ‘new normal’ of doing more with less and ultimately decoupling economic growth from water consumption.

Dr Isabela Espindola, IWA’s focal point for Young Water Professionals (YWPs), was responsible for coordinating the engagement of IWA YWPs members during the AWF. Alongside members of the IWA YWP Steering Committee, the IWA YWP community was present in three events, being: (1) Establishing Young Water Professional Networks, (2) Youth Leadership in Water: Putting Words into Actions, (3) Young Leaders Shaping the Water Future of Asia and the Pacific.

The event “Establishing Young Water Professional Networks,” was organised by IWA and aimed to accelerate the discussions around youth engagement in the water sector by creating a community of YWPs to share knowledge and experiences, learn important skills and have a space to brainstorm solutions. Besides IWA and its YWP Community, represented by Emily Ryan, youth-led organisations joined the event as speakers. The World Youth Parliament of Water, Central Asia Youth for Water, Water Youth Network, WFEO Global Young Engineers WG on SDG13 and United Nations International Federation of Youth were also present.

The event “Youth Leadership in Water: Putting Words into Actions” discussed key messages and calls to action generated throughout the AWF. Yang Villa and Chelsea Hayward, members of the IWA YWP Steering Committee, joined this session. For Hayward, the event was “a great opportunity to connect with other young water professionals and talk about tangible actions we can take to have more influence in the water sector”.

The final event, “Young Leaders Shaping the Water Future of Asia and the Pacific”, was an all-women and all-youth closing panel. Dr Isabela Espindola and Niti Jadeja joined the panel to synthesise the key messages, fresh ideas, and calls to action which came out of AWF 2022. For Jadeja, IWA YWP member, the panel “led to the much-needed conversations on youth involvement, gender diversity and inclusion in water”

The strong engagement of young water professionals was heartening. For Villa, “from the rapporteurs to the panel speakers, YWP participants were stellar examples of emerging water leaders engaged in a cross-generational dialogue”. Huijie Lu, IWA YWP member, adds that the AWF “was a memorable experience for me to participate in this conference as a rapporteur, which allows me to connect with professionals from different areas”. To Muhammad Anique Azam, chair of the IWA YWP Pakistan Chapter and one of the selected rapporteurs during the AWF, the “Asia Water Forum 2022 proved instrumental in bringing young and experienced stakeholders together in a single platform”.

If you have any questions regarding the IWA YWP Community, please Dr Isabela Espindola, IWA Membership Engagement Officer and focal point for YWPs.

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