First General Assembly of the Asia Water Council (AWC)
The secretariat of the Asia-Pacific Water Forum (APWF) attended the first meeting of the AWC, held in Bali, Indonesia from 24 to 16 March. Approximately 300 representatives of 100 organizations from 26 countries, including governments, private corporations, academic institutions, and NGOs participated.
The AWC is a new network organization led by the Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-water), with the aim of promoting sustainable development in Asia by raising global awareness of Asian water issues and solving regional water problems.
The AWC is aimed at realizing sustainable growth in Asia through smart water technology. A variety of stakeholders in the water sector are working hard to attain this goal by taking part in exchanges of opinions and water-related projects in various areas such as research, policy making, technology development, and knowledge platforms. The structure of the AWC consists of a chairman, members of the Board of Council, a secretary general, a secretariat, five Colleges for categorizing members (1.Governments and Public; 2.International Organizations & Civil Society; 3. Enterprise & Public Organizations; MDBs; 5. Academics & Research Organizations) and seven special committees (1. Strategy and Policy; 2. Smart Water Management Initiative; 3. Standardization; 4. Water-Energy-Food Nexus; 5. Water-Aid Program; 6. Water Education; 7. Knowledge Base and Dissemination).
At the Asian Water High Level Round Table, held by K-water in June, 2014 as part of the preparatory process for the 7th World Water Forum, a consensus was reached that Asia needed to tackle its water problems. This led to the launch of AWC.
Prior to the opening ceremony of the general assembly, the AWCs first high level panel discussion was held. It was attended by cabinet-level representatives from South Korea, Cambodia, Thailand, Mongolia, and the Philippines along with the vice president of the ADB, the secretary general of UNESCAP-IHP, and president and vice president of the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The AWC had handed four questions to each representative of the participating nations beforehand: 1.Water status (based on each country or organization’s focus area) in Asia; 2. How to reach Sustainable Development in Asia; 3. What is expected of the AWC for resolving Asian water problems and how can we find proper and adequate smart water technologies for Asian countries?; 4. How can we raise funds for sustainable growth by solving water problems? The attendees shared their answers to these questions at the panel discussion.
At the subsequent opening ceremony, Mr. Gyewoon Choi, CEO of AWC and Dr. Basuki Hadimuljono, Minister for Public Works and Housing of Indonesia, delivered speeches. Dr. Bambang Susanotono, vice president of the Asian Development Bank, and Dr. Blanca Jimenez-Cisneros, Secretary of UNESCO-IHP, made keynote speeches. Each founding member read one sentence of the Founding Declaration, emphasizing the sense of unity in the AWC’s future activities.
In the afternoon there was an announcement of the outlines of nine programs to be implemented on a priority basis: Priorities for Implementation (PFI), and seven water projects the AWC would address, along with the chairs and vice-chairs of the seven Special Committees. After this, an election of the Board of Council took place. Directors of the five Colleges were also elected from among 25 Board organizations. The president, vice-president and financial director of the Board of Council were elected as well.
On the second day, the first meeting of the newly-elected Board of Council was held. The board membership and AWC’s management structure were formally approved. In parallel with the board meeting, the Water Business Forum was co-hosted by the Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport of South Korea and the Korea Water Forum. Public and private companies from South Korea, Indonesia and other countries showcased water-related technologies and gave business seminars.
In the afternoon of March 25, a meeting of the Special Committees was held. Participants were divided into groups according to the subject they were interested in, regarding PFI and other projects. Talks were focused on how to fulfill these projects and the Priorities for Implementation properly and effectively. The results of the group discussions were shared by all participants at the plenary session.
At the closing ceremony, the discussions of the assembly were summarized. Mr. Jin Hai, a board member of the WWC, and Prof. Simon Tay, vice chair of the APWF Governing Council, made closing speeches and delivered a message about the management of the AWC. At the end, the schedule of meetings for the future was announced: the second Board meeting will be held during Singapore International Water Week 2016 in July; the third Board meeting during Korea International Water Week, to be held in Daegu in October; and the steering committee meeting during Asia International Water Week, to be held in South Korea in October, 2017.