ASEAN Cooperation on Water Resources Management

Water is an important environmental resource; it sustains life and economic activities and is used extensively as a waste sink. ASEAN region is generally sufficient in natural resources to support the livelihood of its people. However, some AMS do experience seasonal scarcity, and freshwater resources are under increasing pressures due to rapidly rising demand for industrial activities, agricultural use, and a growing population. The variability of conditions in AMS also affects how water resource issues and their management are addressed. Nonetheless, there are some common issues cutting across AMS, such as supply, demand, water conservation, and water quality management.

Recognising the importance of preserving and managing and sustaining the use of water resources, the ASEAN Leaders resolved to further forge the exchange of knowledge and practices between new technology and local wisdom in confronting with and adapting to water resource problem. The commitment and support of the ASEAN Leaders are reflected in ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together which includes the ASCC Blueprint 2025. As guided by the ASCC Blueprint 2025, the key result areas and corresponding strategic measures in responding to water resource management are among others as follows:

The ASCC Blueprint 2025 shall serve as the guiding mandate for the work of the ASEAN Working Group on Water Resources Management (AWGWRM). AWGWRM is envisaged to be a consultative platform among the ASEAN Member States to promote sustainability of water resources to ensure equitable accessibility and sufficient water quantity of acceptable quality to meet the needs of the people of ASEAN.

v. Enhance policy and capacity development and best practices to conserve, develop and sustainably manage marine, wetlands, peatlands, biodiversity, and land and water resources.
iii. Promote coordination among relevant sectors to provide access to clean land, green public space, clean air, clean and safe water, and sanitation.

ASEAN Integrated Water Resources Management Website provides an overview of the status of IWRM and annual reports on IWRM performance in AMS for six water management-related issues: (1) water supply; (2) irrigation; (3) stormwater management; (4) floods management; (5) water pollution management; and (6) sanitation management.

A Study on the Status of IWRM Implementation in Water Peak Bodies in the ASEAN Member States, led by National Resources Board of the Philippines and conducted in coordination with the Asian Institute of Technology, was also conducted to have a better understanding of the status of IWRM in ASEAN countries.

ASEAN Water Data Management and Reporting System provides a framework for ASEAN regional river monitoring system that would allow ASEAN to commence assessing the status and broad trends relating to the overall condition and water quality of river across the region.

ASEAN regularly organizes regional dialogues and visits to AMS addressing the issue of water and urban water demand management. Some examples of such dialogues include:

  • Water Resources Demand Management Learning Forums for Irrigation (led by Thailand, implemented in July 2011);
  • ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Training on Smart Water Technologies: The Singapore Experience held on 11-15 July 2016;
  • ASEAN Plus Three Water Ministers Forum held on 11 July 2016; and
  • International Conference on Water Demand Management among Competing Sectors (2017).

Singapore, the lead country in urban water demand management, also established Singapore Water Academy, which offers Singapore Water Management Series (SgWM), training programmes designed for water practitioners in urban water management, combining Singapore's experience with international expertise. Singapore also regularly organizes Singapore International Water Week.