ADB managing director general: Water security needs action

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Asia and the Pacific must greatly expand its efforts to address water security and resilience needs, says Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Woochong Um.

Asian Development Bank managing director general Woochong Um has warned the Asia Water Forum 2022 that years of pandemic and the present global food shortage, emphasise how crucial it is that water insecurity is addressed quickly. 

Mr um said: “Since the last Asia Water Forum held in 2018, our challenges have compounded. The world has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic; we are now facing a food security crisis; and the impacts of climate change—importantly those felt through water—are becoming increasingly apparent. These realities have underscored the need to quadruple our efforts to address water security and resilience needs.”

While demand for food and energy continues to rise with population growth and economic development, Asia and the Pacific has 500 million people without access to basic water supply and more than one billion without sanitation. 

Challenges for water and sanitation provision are growing as climate change causes more frequent and more severe floods and droughts.  This is a particular strain on the ADB’s 22 developing member countries that remain water insecure.

Mr Um stressed “Our region’s water security challenges cannot be solved following a ‘business as usual’ approach. For too long water has been undervalued and treated as an infinite resource, causing its waste and misuse.”

AWF 2022 is taking place on 8–11 August under the theme of a resilient and water-secure Asia and Pacific. The forum provides a platform for experts to share experience on water developments, innovations, and technologies across the region. 

The forum will showcase ADB’s new guidance note on Mainstreaming Water Resilience in Asia and the Pacific, which supports the operationalisation of resilience in water sector operations, planning, and policies through six pillars: accelerating upstream engagement and building DMC demand for resilient water investment and policies; adopting a water community approach to DMC water resilience capacity; strengthening ADB staff capacity to mainstream and deliver resilient projects; fostering knowledge, innovation, and partnerships; mobilizing finance for water resilience; and spearheading digitalization for water security and resilience.

AWF 2022 will also feature the launch of the Asia and the Pacific Water Resilience Hub—an open platform dedicated to strengthening water security in the region. The hub will establish partnerships, provide training opportunities, and develop and share knowledge, innovative methods, tools, data, and digital technologies.