Adapted from WaterLinks report
The impacts of climate change on water are being felt every day: sea level rise, storm surges, floods, droughts, temperature rise, urban heat, salt water ingress etc. These factors put enormous pressure on urban water services across the most rapidly urbanising region in the world.
The 2016 WaterLinks Forum was held in Manila from 5 to 7 October and was a learning event that brought together urban water practitioners and policy makers in Asia to understand their climate scenarios better, become familiar with issues, and explore adaptation options. Close to 300 participants from 24 countries including utilities from Fiji, India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Florida, the Netherlands and Tonga, as well as development banks, ministries and other key stakeholders.
GWOPA presented the Climate Change Toolkit during the Forum (developed in collaboration with WaterLinks), designed to help utilities identify and assess climate change manifestations that impact adversely on their operations and formulate a credible response. It draws principle from the WOP between Yarra Valley Water, Melbourne, and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board, Sri Lanka (WOP profile) and is targeted towards coastal and small island states, although also has universal application.
A recurring discussion point during the other sessions was the capacities of Asia’s water utilities to face climate change, more precisely to: establish climate baselines and forecasts, undertake vulnerability assessments and design adaptation projects. Two learning workshops (Water Loss Reduction, and Developing Emergency Response Plans) were also offered to participants, with particularly positive from utilities on the latter. Water Operator Partnerships (WOPs) were also seen as a key way forward to develop capacities in critical climate change impact areas.
Throughout the Forum, participants were clear that water utilities had to use technologies to become more efficient, arguing that efficiency is at the heart of the solutions menu to develop credible climate resilience.