Experts Discuss Water Management Policies, Drawing Insights from Visakhapatnam, India

  • 2021•11•03     Tokyo & Online

    UNU-IAS hosted an international webinar on 25 October 2021, bringing together 150 experts from India, Japan, and other countries to examine key challenges and opportunities for sustainable water management. It focused on the case study of Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh, India, to explore how effective policies water management policies could improve both sustainability and economic development.

    The webinar, Sustainable Water Resources Management in Asian Cities: Challenges & Opportunities, was hosted by UNU-IAS in cooperation with Andhra University, India and the Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies (RGUKT), India.

    In opening remarks, KC Reddy (Chancellor & Chairman of the Governing Council, RGUKT-A.P.) highlighted the importance of distribution of water resources across continents and regions, as well as different social groups and incomes for enhancing the quality of life of people. He outlined three key areas (i) protecting the available water available, (ii) ensuring water distribution per capita availability, and (iii) creating a sustainable model for water resource management.

    A welcome speech by M. Prasada Rao (Andhra University) provided an overview of the water environment of the Visakhapatnam district, emphasising the need for public awareness campaigns and multi-stakeholder perspectives. Keynote speeches were provided by G. Srijana (Commissioner, GVMC) and Kensuke Fukushi (Academic Director, UNU-IAS). Dr. Srijana noted the importance of re-use, recycling and water resources management, and Dr. Fukushi provided an overview of the global environment and changing climate, highlighting the role of healthy water systems in resilience of human life. He focused on the importance of scientific data collection and accurate modelling techniques as key aspects for creating a healthy society.

    The outcomes of UNU-IAS research in Visakhapatnam were presented by Geetha Mohan (Research Fellow, UNU-IAS) and Saroj Chapagain (Research Fellow, UNU-IAS). This research applied an input–output model and analysed the sectoral and intersectoral relationships between the production activities of economic sectors, their use of water resources, and pollution discharges in the region. A presentation by Shri. K.S. Sastry (Joint Director, Water Resources Department, Vijayawada, India) provided a state-level policy perspective on water resource management challenges in Andhra Pradesh, outlining the sources of water in the region and government initiatives. P. Jagdeeswara Rao (Director, RGUKT) presented on water quality in Visakhapatnam district.

    In a session moderated by Dr. Mohan, discussion highlighted the need for successful examples from India to promote sustainable development in the country and the region. Participants underlined the need for stricter regulations, monitoring, and regular check-ups for water resources.

    A panel discussion on the topic “How could policy planning and implementation help ensure sustainable water management in cities in India?” was moderated by Dr. Fukushi, engaging a range of panelists from industry, NGOs, governments, and academia. The key messages from the discussion were the need to measure the prevailing availability of water, and context-specific solutions centered around integrated approaches through multi-stakeholder engagement. In addition, community awareness is key to safeguarding and managing local sources.

    An interactive survey was also conducted with the participants to understand perceptions of water resource management systems and policies.

    The webinar was featured in two articles in the national newspaper The Hindu (national news and regional news), and the state newspaper Prajasakti (Telugu language).