The Second Asia Pacific Water Summit concluded on 20 May 2013 with leaders from nine countries – Brunei, Georgia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Republic of Korea, Tajikistan, Thailand, Vanuatu and Viet Nam – pledging to prioritize water-related concerns in their countries.
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 water security in the region 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 the sustainable solutions for water security needed here and worldwide. Where we see this cooperation work best, 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.