The UNESCO Water Family in the Asia and the Pacific held its first online gathering on 28 July 2020. The meeting enabled an exchange of news and views from contributors to UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP) across the region. The agenda was focused on the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact in different parts of the region – from the Small Island Developing States of the Pacific to the mountain countries of Central Asia. Serving as follow up to the regional UNESCO event “Science to Enable and Empower Asia Pacific for Covid-19 response”, the principal outcomes of the meeting was a commitment to collaboratively mobilize water science and innovation to address the pandemic and its impacts and to reinforce work towards Sustainable Development Goal 6 and other water-related SDG targets.
The meeting featured technical presentations by key water experts from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan and the Republic of Korea. Each speaker shared ideas based on their experience of how the water science community has contributed to addressing the challenges brought by the pandemic – and how that experience could be put to use elsewhere in the region. The discussion in this way helped set the agenda of this year’s IHP Regional Steering Committee for Asia and the Pacific meeting, scheduled for October 2020 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
With participation of 150 participants (65% female) from 20 countries, representing IHP National Committees from across the region as well as government officials, university and research institutes, non-governmental organizations and students, the event concluded with one important message: the UNESCO Water Family in Asia and the Pacific is willing and able to put a wide range of water science innovations into practice on-the-ground to assist countries and communities to enable new, safer living for all amid the Covid-19 pandemic.