Water scarcity is an acute challenge for arid and semi-arid regions around the world that impacts all aspects of sustainable development. As the driest inhabited continent, Australia has developed knowledge and capabilities in many aspects of water management and sustainability and is well placed to contribute to efforts in other parts of the world and in turn to draw on expertise elsewhere to support future water management in Australia.
With that in mind, the Goyder Institute partnered with the South Australian Department for Environment and Water (DEW) and the National Energy and Water Centre at United Arab Emirates University to bring together key water research institutions, government organisations and businesses from around the globe at the Water Resources Management and Sustainability: Solutions for Arid Regions Conference in Dubai from 22-24 March 2022. The conference formed an important part of International Water Week at the Dubai Expo 2020, which provided the opportunity to strengthen global cooperation on the future of water for society, the economy, and the environment and to develop new partnerships to accelerate innovative water management.
New opportunities for national and international partnerships for the Institute were developed through participation in the conference and a series of workshops and bilateral roundtables. A key element was a workshop led by the Institute in collaboration with eWater that focussed on exploring the important role that evidence can play in overcoming future water security challenges. The workshop included keynotes by the South Australian Water Ambassador, Hon Karlene Maywald, and Independent Chair of the Goyder Institute, Professor Barry Hart. Panel members for the workshop also included Institute Director Dr Kane Aldridge, and Angus MacGregor and Simone Stewart from DEW. The workshop highlighted the unique role of the Institute in undertaking independent, high quality research to support priority water decision-making in Australia.
A number of presentations were also provided by Goyder Institute partner representatives across a broad range of topics, including:
- Tim Munday (CSIRO) – An Interdisciplinary Approach to Groundwater Resource Assessment for Sustaining Community, Environment & Economic Development in a Remote Arid Region of South Australia
- Angus MacGregor (DEW) – Valuing Community and First Nations Voices in Restoring the Coorong, South Australia
- Declan Page (CSIRO) – Managed Aquifer Recharge for Water Security in Australia
- Simone Stewart (DEW) – Adaptive Management of the Groundwater Resources on Eyre Peninsula
- Klaus Joehnk (CSIRO) – Moving from Local Monitoring to Regional and Continental Scale Early Warning and Forecasting of Water Quality Risks
Director of the Goyder Institute, Dr Kane Aldridge, said that “the conference provided a fantastic opportunity to raise the international profile of the Institute and learn from international collaborators about their challenges, priorities and models for incorporating evidence into water decision-making. He added that “A great deal of capacity for innovative water management has been built up over time in Australia and as we emerge from a global pandemic, the forum provided a chance to forge new international partnerships”.
The conference also provided a platform for knowledge-sharing, promoting new solutions and developing stronger international cooperation on water issues in arid environments. This included challenges and solutions related to water resources exploration, development, management and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions. Themes covered during the conference included:
- Socio-Economic Water Studies – Governance, Pricing, Policy, and Regulation
- Advanced Technologies in Water Resources Management – Large Scale Water Management, Managed Aquifer Recharge, Hydroinformatics
- Climate Change and Water Resources Resilience – Risk management, Water Conservation, Provisioning
- Non-Conventional Water Resources Development and Management – Desalination, Water Recycling, Water Reuse
- Water Resources Sustainability – Sustainable Development Goals, Water-Food-Energy Nexus, Social and Economic Growth, and Environmental Sustainability in Arid Regions
- Water Resources and Hydrological Processes – Rainwater Harvesting, Flash Flood Prediction and Management
- Karst and Coastal Zone Management and Water Resources
- Water Quality Management
- Spatial Technology, Geographic Information Systems, and Remote Sensing in Water Resources