Australian water reform expertise hits the world stage

Posted 11 October 2016

Canberra - Lake Burley GriffinAustralia's water reform journey shows massive infrastructure projects will not solve the world's water problems, according to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“The role of efficient water management is to grow more crops with less water and, if we do so efficiently, we can absolutely do it,” he said.

“We also have to recognise the reality that gigantic engineering solutions are rarely going to be the answer or the cost-effective answer; water has a very low value [relative] to volume and to weight, so moving it enormous distances is very expensive.”

The PM was commenting on the action plan produced by the United Nations High-Level Panel on Water (HLPW).

Australia's contribution to the plan included a report on the Australian water reform journey and a series of framing papers for the HLPW put out by the Australian Water Partnership.

“It shows in particular how our governance reforms have helped manage Australia’s food bowl, the Murray-Darling Basin,” he said.

“Australia knows how important effective and sustainable water management is to our communities and economy,” he said.

Turnbull said he hoped the lessons Australia had learned during its reform journey would help global efforts secure water for all.

“We are very pleased to make a practical contribution to this global initiative, to share our water management expertise to help unlock food production, improve health outcomes, strengthen economies and reduce poverty,” he said.

“The panel's action plan sets out a comprehensive integrated and transformational approach which is essential to develop real change at a time when global water-related challenges are growing at already daunting scales.”

As part of Australia's commitment to the HLPW, Turnbull announced a new Water for Women initiative under Australia's aid program.

The initiative will invest $100 million over five years.

“Water for Women will work with civil society organisations on innovative ways to improve water, sanitation and hygiene, focusing on women, girls and people with disabilities in the poorest human settlements,” Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stated.

“It will build on the learning and knowledge generated by the current Civil Society Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Fund.

“Australia looks forward to working with governments and our civil society partners across the Asia Pacific region to deliver Water for Women.”