Pacific Region

The South Pacific: a diverse region facing common water challenges

The South Pacific Region covers 15 percent of the Earth’s surface and is home to 10 million people who speak over 1,500 distinct languages. Fifteen Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are located in this region: Palau, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Niue and Cook Islands.

The Pacific faces several challenges regarding its water resources. Almost all Pacific Island areas are at or close to sea level, which makes them very vulnerable to climate change-related increases in natural disaster frequency and rising sea levels. In addition, an estimated 80 percent of Pacific Islanders are living in rural areas, and rural water management is of particular importance for agriculture, health and natural disaster management.

AWP and the Pacific Water Utilities

Since 2016, the Australian Water Partnership (AWP) has undertaken projects related to climate risk and has invested over AU$600,000 to support the peak body for the Pacific Island Water Utilities, the Pacific Water and Waste-Water Association (PWWA).

The PWWA is the primary body bringing Pacific water utility organisations together to collaborate, exchange knowledge and work collectively. The PWWA began as an organisation managed by member utilities’ CEOs on a volunteer basis with limited financial resources. Insufficient staff and financial resources inhibited its capacity to operate as a hub for its members.

With support from the AWP and its partner organisation Hunter H2O, the PWWA has undergone a transformation from a volunteer-based organisation to full-time, professional management with a new governance structure and a five-year Strategic Plan. In addition, the PWWA has conducted two Young Water Professional (YWP) training programs to build the capacity of young professionals in Pacific Water and Wastewater Utilities across the region during its annual conferences.

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