ADB in Stockholm ― World Water Week 2013

Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Published by on Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Written by Ian W. Makin, Principal Water Resources Specialist

The Stockholm World Water Week (SWWW) is the leading annual gathering on water issues, bringing together technical specialists, political leaders, private sector actors, civil society, researchers and students. This 23rd edition of the event, which first began in 1991, is focused on the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. Over 3,000 people will join over 100 sessions covering cooperation in the water sector, taking the opportunity to explore the many challenges that face water users and water managers from many different points of view. 

A question I am asked quite frequently is “Why does ADB invest time and resources to join a conference in Stockholm, when there are so many other conferences and workshops in our region?” It’s a good question! However, having had the opportunity to participate in World Water Week regularly, with a wide range of ADB colleagues including Director Generals, Directors, and staff from various operations and the research divisions I can answer comfortably – “It is simply the best venue to meet the leading thinkers and doers in the water sector, to share ideas, ask questions, explore new opportunities, and to speak with existing and potential partners.” In addition to the formal sessions, which run from 08:30 to 18:45 each day, many bilateral discussions take place. It is a very busy, but valuable, six days for the entire team as we build new partnerships, reinforce existing ones, and take the opportunity to meet old friends and colleagues and to catch up on who is doing what, where and when! 

Since 2007, ADB has convened a day of sessions, each year, focused on Asia water issues under the general umbrella of Eye on Asia.  I have had the honor of leading the ADB team that develops the concept for each year’s Eye on Asia day, in collaboration with various co‑conveners each year.  For Eye on Asia 2013, our partners are the Asian Pacific Water Forum, the Global Water Partnership, and the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and WWF. Stockholm Water Week is a great opportunity to showcase ADB’s work both as a development bank and a knowledge bank. It also enables us to deepen our pool of knowledge. For the past few years annual regional focus days on Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean have been held, based on the concept piloted by ADB. I am writing this while listening to senior water leaders from African Ministerial Council of Water Ministers (AMCOW), Tajikistan, India, Mexico and the People’s Republic of China who are talking about basin level water management, including transboundary issues, in the first inter-regional session. Fascinating to hear calls for greater cooperation to strengthen shared experiences to resolve the growing water challenges around the world.

For Eye on Asia 2013 our partners have joined us in preparing a different form of session. After the opening session and presentations on key basin management issues, we are challenging our audience to join a simulation of a transboundary negotiation on hypothetical basin development issues in the mythical Gorthnoram basin shared between Gorthia and Noramas – see programme

Any one that has organized a session in an international event will know the highs and lows that accompany the preparation of such events. The Eye on Asia is attracting a lot of interest among session organizers and participants. If it works as well as we hope, then perhaps other sessions will push the boundary in future years.