In April and May 2022, the chair of IGRAC’s governing board, Koos Wieriks, attended several water-related conferences in South-East Asia. He used these opportunities to promote groundwater management in general, and World Water Day 2022 activities like the UN-Water Summit on Groundwater in particular.
Asia-Pacific Water Summit 2022
On 23-24 April, the city of Kunamoto, Japan, hosted the 4th Asia-Pacific Water Summit 2022, which served as official preparatory meeting for the UN Water conference 2023. Although officially representing the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Koos Wieriks also used the opportunity to promote the upcoming UN-Water Summit on Groundwater 2022, co-coordinated by IGRAC. In parallel to the APWS summit, a meeting of the High-level Expert and Leaders Panel for Water and Disaster (HELP) was organized. During this meeting, Wieriks raised awareness about the importance of sustainable groundwater management and advocated for adding ‘groundwater’ as potential disaster to its focal areas. This proposal was approved, which opens up the possibility to jointly create a flagship document about groundwater. Such a flagship document can serve as input for the UN-Water Summit on Groundwater, COP 27, and the UN 2023 Water Conference. Wieriks also met the two co-hosts of the UN 2023 Conference (Tajikistan and the Neterlands) and it was agreed that the UN-Water Summit on Groundwater would be considered as one of the preparatory conferences for this important UN 2023 Water Conference
SWA 2022 Sector Ministers’ Meeting
Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) organized its 2022 Sector Ministers’ Meeting on 18-19 May. This meeting held in Jakarta, Indonesia, brought together ministers of water, sanitation, and hygiene, and their counterparts responsible for climate, environment, health, and the economy. Besides a plenary component, the programme included discussion roundtables in which varying groups of 10 ministers discussed 5 different water-related themes. Koos Wieriks moderated the discussion on leadership, which was primarily about creating political will to solve water issues.
Wieriks used this meeting to underline the importance of groundwater and he did not have to look far to find an example that supported his case. The north of Jakarta, the host of the meeting, has sunk 4 meters (!) over the past 35 years, due to the abstraction of groundwater. This land subsidence has made the capital prone to flooding events and is one of the reasons for the Indonesian government to start planning for the construction of a brand-new capital city: Nusantara.
7th GPDRR Conference
One week later, the 7th session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) took place in Bali, Indonesia. This GPDRR is recognized by the UN General Assembly as the global multi-stakeholder forum to review progress on the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. At the Platform more than 4000 participants from, governments, UN system and all stakeholders got together to share knowledge and discuss the latest developments and trends in reducing disaster risk, identify gaps and make recommendations to further accelerate this implementation of the Sendai Framework. Koos Wieriks attended this session representing IGRAC and gave a plenary 3-minute intervention about the importance of groundwater as crucial part of the global water cycle. He stressed the need to demystify groundwater, to stimulate awareness, to connect with the surface water world, to join with other sectors and to improve groundwater management.