Water resources in Southeast Asia are under strain from rapid urbanization and industrialization. The situation is made worse by water-related disasters, climate change and poor governance. Countries are experiencing the urban scenario of water stress. Traditional systems to share water are increasingly unable to cope with growing demand and competition between users.
Evidence of surface and groundwater pollution is growing. One-third of the agricultural areas in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries lie in potential flood zones, and some are vulnerable to droughts. Urban areas are increasingly endangered by floods, partly caused by highland development.
IWRM concepts in national laws and policies
A series of meetings (2003, 2005, 2007) of water ministers have affirmed a commitment to the IWRM approach. In the last five years, GWP Southeast Asia has been active in developing and influencing sustainable water management policies at national and regional levels. Water ‘visions’ and frameworks for action have been drafted, and at least five countries have incorporated IWRM concepts in their national laws and policies (Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam). At the regional level, GWP Southeast Asia is working with ASEAN and has facilitated putting water on the ASEAN agenda through the creation of the ASEAN Working Group on Water Resources Management (AWGWR).
Fostering the IWRM approach
GWP Southeast Asia’s strategy aims to foster the IWRM approach by influencing international and regional organizations, central, provincial/state and local governments, and all water resources stakeholders including academic and professional institutions, NGOs and the media. This influence is exercised by facilitating neutral platforms for regional and country dialogues on topics such as applying IWRM at the river basin level, policy and institutional reform, and financing. GWP Southeast Asia is also building a better IWRM database and monitoring system. The database includes a mechanism for sharing knowledge and information on water resources management through local websites. This shares case studies illustrating good and bad practices throughout the region.