Our CEO, Professor Tony Wong, and our Chief Operating and Finance Officer, Ben Furmage, both presented at World Water Week in Stockholm. This year’s event focused on how we can better use nature-based solutions to address the world’s most pressing water issues. Together with Kerrie Burge (CRCWSC International Engagement Manager for Asia Pacific), the CRCWSC team was very much part of 'Team Australia' under the auspices of the Australian Water Partnership and officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Torgny Holmgren (Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute) set the scene for the week, by highlighting the multi-functional nature of green infrastructure:
“City parks retain rain, improve the microclimate, contribute to biodiversity—and look good doing so. Green solutions are, in addition, also often much more resilient than grey. They tend to bend rather than break under pressure. They can repair themselves and restore their functionality also after significant damage.”
Building on this theme, Tony was one of four panellists discussing ways to use nature-based solutions to build watershed resilience and community collaboration under climate change. Tony reflected on the range of nature-based solutions for water, ranging in scale and applicability from regional-scale catchment reforestation and regeneration of mangroves for flood management, to biomimicry and waterway rehabilitation at an urban scale. He reinforced that nature-based solutions cannot be viewed as a panacea to solve all of the challenges we face. Rather, we need appropriate solutions that are context-specific and hybrids of green and grey infrastructure, and include social and technical responses. He also stressed the importance of balancing social and physical infrastructure investment.
“In the developed world there have been cases where we have relied too heavily on infrastructure to build resilience to climate uncertainties and in so doing have almost designed out community resilience. In the developing world, we have seen a greater social resilience but severely let down by the lack of subsistence infrastructure. Resilient cities of the future will strike an effective balance of both.“ — Tony Wong, CEO, CRC for Water Sensitive Cities
Focusing on the link between water and economic prosperity, Ben discussed how integrated water management can help countries in Asia grow their GDP without putting extra stress on limited water supplies. In particular, Ben illustrated how the CRCWSC’s partnership with the City of Kunshan, China has seen nature-based solutions integrated into an existing pipeline of investment to grow economic, community and environmental performance.
“The experience in Kunshan has seen nature-based solutions successfully applied at multiple scales and is delivering benefits to a city that is growing rapidly. Water has been an integral part of Kunshan’s history and is playing a key role in securing a prosperous future.”—Ben Furmage, COFO, CRC for Water Sensitive Cities
Ben also noted that the best mix of integrated investment solutions will vary from city to city and that the CRCWSC’s Comprehensive economic evaluation framework (IRP2) provides practical support to valuing and comparing the full range of benefits and costs associated with the different options.
Running from 26–31 August 2018, World Water Week is the leading annual event on global water and development issues. Organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute, the 2018 event was huge:
- 3700 participants, including world leaders, water experts, development professional and business representatives
- from 135 countries and 378 organisations
- discussed 15 themes at 238 sessions. .