World Water Week – reflections by Dr Regina Souter

What a great conference! This was my first time at this truly global water conference; I’d been warned it would be a hectic but excellent way to explore the latest thinking on many water issues – it didn’t disappoint and was worth the investment to get there. There were many sessions focussed on some of the current and emerging intractable water-related problems; if you missed it, or missed some sessions, it’s worth catching up via the recordings (on the WWW website).

IWC’s Pacific governance research was shared in quite a few sessions with our partners, including the Asia Pacific Water Forum, Water for Women, and Australian Water Partnership. We shared our experiences on innovations in rural water governance for climate resilience in Pacific communities, and, building on cultural strengths with innovation in planning for climate-resilient water in Solomon Islands, alongside really informative contributions from the Government of Indonesia, UNESCO, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Asian Development Bank, Global Water Partnership, UN-Habitat, and Japan and Korea Water Forums.

Our research partners Solomon Islands National University screened a film in the inaugural WWW Film Session: Going beyond Community-based WASH planning to catchment scale thinking of water management in Rural Solomon Islands.

And we facilitated a session on what it means to encourage diverse voices in water decision-making, with very thoughtful insights from Michelle Hobbs and Phil Duncan sharing their experiences from Australia, and Tema Wickham and Collin sharing their experiences from Solomon Islands.

There was a lot of important discussion on climate mitigation and the critical need and ways for the water sector to get on board – we need to go beyond adapting to climate change and play our part in mitigating our own emissions by decarbonising and reducing energy consumption, and, supporting appropriate water access needed for shifts to lower-emission options (e.g. renewable energies) in other sectors. Aligned with this was the important point that climate mitigation and adaptation are not mutually exclusive – there are water-related actions that can be both adaptive and contribute to mitigation (e.g. reducing non-revenue water).

And of course it is always helpful, interesting and enjoyable to catchup with our peers and partners in one place, to learn more about what they are doing and thinking about, and discuss ways that IWC is aligned and can support or contribute to these plans.