On 18 December 2020, UNU-IAS Water for Sustainable Development (WSD) Project co-organised an international webinar on ‘Water and Sustainable Economic Development – Findings and Lessons from Case Studies in Asia’ in cooperation with Pokhara University’s School of Engineering in Nepal. The webinar engaged a total of 13 speakers from four countries and 110 participants mainly from Asia and was covered by five national newspapers in Nepal.
During this webinar, presenters shared and discussed water-related challenges that developing countries in Asia face, examining the cases of Kaski District, Nepal and Bali, Indonesia. Kensuke Fukushi (Academic Programme Officer, UNU-IAS) provided a global context of the connections between water and sustainability and stressed the importance of high water quality as a key to progressing economic development. Hari Krishna Shrestha (Professor, Nepal Engineering College, Pokhara University) discussed water and sustainability in the context of Nepal, emphasising the need for increased capacity for local governments to strengthen hydrological data collection and to ensure better water governance as well as equitable access to water at a local level.
The presentations that followed provided technical overviews on water and economic development. Kofula Shrestha (Senior Divisional Engineer, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure Development of Lumbini Province, Nepal) presented on progress made in Nepal in terms of implementing the SDGs and a newly formulated national water resource policy for 2020. Rajib Pokhrel (Associate Professor, School of Engineering, Pokhara University) spoke on how the economy, public infrastructure, and land use changed over time in Kaski district and the impact of such changes on the environment and human life. Geetha Mohan (Research Fellow, UNU-IAS) and Saroj Chapagain (Research Fellow, UNU-IAS) shared the outcomes of the WSD case study in Kaski district focusing on the linkages between sectoral economic activities, water consumption and pollution load. They also highlighted how increased economic growth and policy implications for environmental sustainability have impacted economic development in the region. The final presenter, I Made Sudarma (Professor, Udayana University) spoke about experiences in Batur Lake, Bali, Indonesia when trying to manage a lake ecosystem from pollution.
During the discussion session, moderated by Binaya Kumar Mishra (Professor of School of Engineering, Pokhara University) speakers and discussants from academia, government, and research organisations in Nepal and Japan highlighted best practices relating to water management and sustainable economic development. To conclude the webinar, Madhav Dev Acharya (Senior Divisional Engineer of Water and Energy Commission Secretariat, Nepal) praised the inclusion of diverse topics in the webinar and hoped that the outcomes of this webinar and WSD Project will be utilised by water professionals in Asia.