On 22 March 2018, UNU-IAS organized a side event entitled “Towards resilient and sustainable urban water management for fast-growing megacities”. The objective of this event is to share key findings of WUI project and to discuss with interested participants about the possibility to adopt the recommendations in other cities of the world. It was also the official launch of WUI booklet entitled “Future Outlook of Urban Water Environment in Asian Cities: Summary for Decision Makers”. About 40 attendees from a wide spectrum including scientific communities, industry representatives, students, media, city governments, researchers from private and public sectors, women and young people among others interested in learning about water issues in South Asian megacities came to UNU-IAS side event. Participants from various sectors (academicians, professionals of water) and countries/regions (Brazil, Japan, Africa, Asia) showed their interest on the topic through active participation and sharing their view/experiences about the same.
The session began with opening remarks by Prof. Kensuke Fukushi (The University of Tokyo/ Visiting Professor, UNU-IAS). During his presentation, he gave an overview of WUI project and the summary for Decision Makers booklet. He also emphasized the contribution of the project to achieve different Sustainable Development Goals, namely SDGs 6, 7,9, 11 and 13, but with interlinkages that go beyond these goals. Then, researchers of WUI (Dr. Mishra, Dr. Kefi, Dr. Kumar and Dr. Masago) presented a snapshot of the results related to flood risk and water quality in different target areas. They mentioned that in the future with the impact of climate change and rapid urbanization and without any appropriate mitigations, frequency of natural disaster related to water, rate of water quality degradation will increase by many folds, and situation will be more alarming in the target cities. They also highlighted some policy recommendations to improve strategies and adaption measures.
An interactive discussion was also organized which was moderated by Ms. Julia Lopes Ferreira (UNU-IAS). Three focus points were discussed (i) Challenges for assessment of water urban environment (ii) Strategies to cope with climate change and rapid urbanization in Asian megacities (iii) Contributions of sciences in policy decisions. Panellists composed of WUI team, pointed out some significant suggestions such as how the improvement of databases can conduct to decrease the degree of uncertainty and improve the accuracy of the simulations. Strategies can be more effective when combining grey and green infrastructures for sustainable solutions. Water and natural disaster are global issues, which should involve all stakeholders ranging from local communities to scientists and decision makers. A bridge between scientists and policies makers should be built to reduce the gap between both of them.
Attendees also raised interesting points, asking questions and sharing their experiences. These can be taken into consideration for future projects at UNU-IAS: (i) Possibility to adopt recommendations developed and approach used in cities with different climatic conditions, smaller scales and weaker institutional capacity; (ii) Simulation/inclusion of groundwater; (iii) Planning an education program with practical cases on the development of public policies for water and natural hazards for students and local people, to increase their engagement in policy decisions, as well as to incentivize public policy that is better communicated to the public;. (iv) Identification and sharing of the most common mistakes diagnosed in the target cities that lead to the highest risks.
Participants received the booklet of “Future Outlook of Urban Water Environment in Asian Cities: Summary for Decision Makers” which might encourage them to acquire more knowledge about approach used and key findings. This Side Event was also an opportunity to enhance the visibility of UNU-IAS activities. Maybe in the future more projects related to water will be implemented at UNU-IAS and main results and findings will be shared in 2021 during the 9th WWF which will be held in Dakar, Senegal.