Keynote Speech: Groundwater governance in Asia: opportunities and challenges in the context of 2015 agreements on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Climate Change

Event: Water Resources Dialogue: ChinAfrica Water Forum Series No. 4: Sustainable Utilization of Water Resources in Developing Countries
Date: 1-3 August 2016, Taiyuan, China

Asia is undergoing a massive developmental transformation. Its identity as a growth center of the world has been instrumental in lifting millions of people out of poverty, while many others are aspiring to a high-income status. However, this rapid development has come at the cost of groundwater depletion and degradation in different parts of Asia. Population growth, urbanization, industrialization, agricultural expansion, and climate change are driving unplanned and uncontrolled abstraction, contamination, and other secondary impacts such as land subsidence, sea water intrusion. State of groundwater is under crisis both in cities and in rural areas. Open access, weak regulatory control, lack of information and inadequate management capacity are some of the common groundwater governance issues in Asia, including in China. Reversing this unsustainable trend requires strengthening of groundwater governance framework not only in policy documents but also in practice. Improving groundwater governance is mandatory to implement the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, achieving the Goal 6 on Water. Similarly, the role of groundwater is important for climate change adaptation such as managing droughts and preventing sea water intrusion. Two important global agreements on SDGs and Climate Change in 2015 offers both opportunities and challenges for the sustainable management of groundwater and promoting good governance. Implementation of these global agreements by adequately factoring into the cost and benefit of groundwater development and management is essential for harnessing synergies and managing trade-offs in the post-2015 development agenda.