Celebrations taking place at IWRA Congress, Cancun, Mexico

GWI launches IWRA Oceania Chapter

On 2 June 2017 at the XVI World Water Congress in Cancun, Mexico, GWI and the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) signed a MoU to launch the IWRA Oceania Chapter.

IWRA is a global network of water experts who are passionate about protecting the world's water resources. Established in 1971, it is a non-profit NGO bridging disciplines and geographies to connect professionals, students, institutions and corporations. Its goal is to improve and expand the understanding of water resources through education, research and information exchange, based on the core belief that sustainability requires Interdisciplinary and international cooperation. In recent years, IWRA has commenced establishing regional Chapters to enhance networking amongst regional members and to support regionally-based activities.

There is a need for Chapter leadership to be hosted by an established, well recognised, credible and stable organisation such as UNSW

Patrick Lavarde, IWRA President

Patrick Lavarde, IWRA President, said "there is a need for Chapter leadership to be hosted by an established, well recognised, credible and stable organisation such as UNSW.”

The vision of GWI - to be a leader in interdisciplinary research and education leading to global impact - is well aligned to IWRA, making GWI a natural choice to lead the Oceania Chapter.

At the Launch, GWI Director Professor Nick Schofield summarised some of GWI's world-leading credentials before providing an overview of the characteristics and challenges in the Oceania region. He noted the region included 25 countries with a population of 40 million, spread from Australia as the largest (24m) to Pitcairn Islands the smallest (with only 60 residents). Similarly, water security in the region varies from very high (with Australia and New Zealand topping 48 countries in the Asian Water Development Outlook 2016) to very low. The South Pacific is characterised by many small, remote islands with narrowly based economies dependent on limited natural resources and distant from major markets.

While unique geographically, biologically and culturally, the islands are also highly vulnerable to natural disasters, climate change and economic shocks. Despite these challenges, the region has been successful in coming together as one voice on the international stage, as evidenced by Fiji's nomination to organise COP23.

When discussing next steps, Professor Schofield said “this launch is the start of the IWRA Oceania Chapter, soon to be followed by establishing a management committee, developing a regional charter, building the membership base and designing regional activities in co-operation with IWRA headquarters.”

The XVI World Water Congress in Cancun also produced the Cancun Declaration -  a call for action to bridge science and water policy for sustainable development.

For more information on the IWRA Oceania Chapter, contact Leesa L’Episcopo, GWI Administrative Officer, at l.lepiscopo@unsw.edu.au

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