Urbanisation considerably affects the natural water cycle both in terms of quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. In Asia, the fluctuation of water quality risks flooding low-lying areas, spreading disease and destroying crops.
The UNU-FLORES Nexus Observatory organised a workshop on “Water-Wastewater Nexus in Urbanising Asia: Building Capacity for Monitoring Water Quality Risks” in collaboration with the Viet Nam Ministry of Construction, National University of Civil Engineering (Vietnam), and Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (Japan) in Ha Noi on 24–25 May 2016. Researchers and policymakers from five South-East Asian countries (Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam) gathered to discuss data needs, frameworks for data and information sharing, and capacity building requirements related to water quality and wastewater management.
Workshop participants considered the potential for regional cooperation in Asia and nexus challenges in the region. Discussions on the second day are focussed on developing concrete proposals with regard to monitoring methodologies for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 6.3.
The Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and World Bank were present at the workshop and engaged in dialogue with policymakers. GIZ and JICA co-chaired a panel discussion on nexus priorities and monitoring in urbanising Asia. A representative of UN-Habitat joined the discussions on Day 2, providing an overview of the Global Environmental Monitoring Initiative and stressing the importance of a regional consortium approach to support SDG Target 6.3.
Based on the workshop discussions, researchers agreed that data collection, management, and sharing are major challenges, in that information is typically dispersed among different organisations in various, non-harmonised formats. A number of researchers called for standardisation and greater awareness-raising to sensitise the local population, and highlighted the prospects of working with indices as a means of engaging with policy concerns (such as non-revenue water and pricing of wastewater treatment services).
Points considered over the two days included moving beyond bio-physical data, considering the role of finance and institutions to create integrated monitoring systems; building on existing case studies and projects that have demonstrated good practice in data collection and monitoring; capacity building needs; and translation of data and information to support policymaking. A field visit to a local Ha Noi wastewater treatment plant offered workshop participants an opportunity to discuss issues raised in the sessions.
For more, see the event report on the UNU-FLORES website.