Denise Cheah (Malaysia)
Wetlands International, Malaysia
Master of Integrated Water Management
Denise graduated from the University Kebangsaan Malaysia (the National University of Malaysia) with a Master of Science (Environmental Assessment and Monitoring). She now works as a Technical Officer with Wetlands International, Malaysia.
Water security in Malaysia
Working with an environmental NGO on several projects concerning wetland conservation and wise-use, I realised that a great majority of people are unaware of the water security risk our nation is facing or the causes leading to it. This is disturbing as it allows rapid land conversion and unsustainable resource usage and other activities that result in deforestation, leaching and ground water contamination, greatly affecting water resource availability.
I believe that the MIWM will help me to identify the gaps in current water management strategies and propose ways to improve upon them, finding common understanding between various levels of stakeholders and bringing them together in managing the limited water resources. I hope that by doing this, we can work towards ensuring that every person and organism will have access to clean and safe drinking water.
After completing the MIWM, I want to highlight water security issues in the country and the importance of conserving our natural environment, as our main source of water, through initiatives such as strengthening policies and enforcement of water management and conservation by the government, best management practices in private industries and greater awareness of water usage by the general public.
Shared water, shared goals
Water is a common resource shared by all living organisms, yet the human population has been using more than their share of it. Increasing human population and anthropogenic activities has led to stress and wide-scale degradation of our natural ecosystems including our water sources.
We must manage this limited resource to ensure that it is sustainable, while still meeting the increasing demands upon it.
All sectors have different priorities as a result of the nature of their work, but they must come to an agreement and work towards the same goal of sustainable management of our water resources.
Integrated water management in Malaysia
Twenty years has passed since the concept of integrated water management was introduced in Malaysia. The idea was to implement sustainable water resource management across all levels of stakeholders. Yet today, we are facing more water-related issues than we did twenty years ago.
I was first introduced to the idea of integrated water management during my undergraduate studies, but that merely skimmed the surface. The MIWM will help to build my confidence in the subject and strengthen my management and communication techniques so I can advocate for the long-term implementation of integrated water management in Malaysia.
I look forward to meeting participants from various countries, coming together to share our knowledge, experiences and perspectives on water-related issues, and learning from each other.
Making a change now
As water is a limited world resource, integrated water management must be addressed at a national and a global scale. In a world where boundaries are getting smaller, we need to work closer together to achieve the change we want to see.
For the sake of future generations and for the other organisms with whom we share this earth, we need to start making a change now.
I firmly believe that by participating in this program, I will greatly benefit through increased knowledge and technical skills, better communication, advocacy and critical thinking skills, and fostering valuable relationships for future partnerships, which in turn will allow me to contribute to a change in the water sector.