Experts Meet in Colombo to Discuss "Water Security and Disaster Management in Asia"

News | March 20, 2020

On March 2-4, the EastWest Institute (EWI) and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), in concert with the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL) and Consortium of South Asian Think Tanks (COSATT), convened a high-level dialogue entitled: “Water Security and Disaster Management in Asia” in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The dialogue, second in the project series, brought together experts from both the public and private sectors in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to jointly analyze the threats to water security in Asia in the face of worsening hydro-meteorological disasters due to climate change. The two-day dialogue consisted of six panel discussions on varied topics related to the politicization of water security including the economic vulnerabilities of the water crisis and stakeholder engagement, among others. Each panel featured experts from all participating countries who contributed valuable insights to the overall discussion. Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral KKVPH De Silva served as the keynote speaker.

The experts unanimously agreed that water issues are inherently multifaceted and as a result, have become a necessary component of seemingly unrelated policy and political issues. They added that management of water resources is obscured by non-inclusive and bureaucratic decision-making.

Experts further emphasized the need for broader research on the new hydrology of the region in light of the evolving climate conditions. There was collective support towards establishing a multi-stakeholder advisory body that would oversee the collection of data and information to garner greater debate and policy recommendations on an effective and non-partisan basis. The experts called for China, Afghanistan and Myanmar to be invited as observer participants in all future Himalayan hydrodiplomacy-focused dialogues.

EWI, with the support of its partners, will continue to draw attention to the rapidly rising challenges of water security at both regional and international policymaking levels.

A detailed summary of outcomes from the discussion, featuring policy recommendations and key takeaways, will be available on the EWI website in the coming weeks.