Covid-19 Impacts and Responses Shared in a Special Session of Regional UNESCO Water Science Network

The UNESCO Water Family in Asia and the Pacific conducted a virtual meeting of the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP) – Regional Steering Committee (RSC-AP) on 26 and 27 October 2020. The special session was held to ensure that the water science community continues its important deliberations on cooperation and exchange in the hydrological sciences amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Led by the RSC-AP Chair, Prof Zhongbo Yu of China, the discussion focused on Covid-19 issues in the water sector including impacts of and responses to the pandemic, with participation from more than 50 delegates from 16 countries across the region.

During the meeting, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Thailand reported an update on Covid-19 impacts and responses in their respective countries. The presentations provided situation analysis during COVID-19 as well as highlighted the best practices and lesson learned on the innovative contributions to combat COVID-19 impact, while the IHP National Committee of India presented a new proposal for regional water security index cooperation.

Progress was made towards regional implementation of global frameworks and targets. The new strategy of the IHP programme coming into effect in 2022 was discussed, and participants were called on to contribute towards a new regional water cycle management policy brief based on stakeholder evaluations of progress towards water-related Sustainable Development Goals across the region.

Focusing on dam reservoir operation, a dedicated technical event associated with the meeting – the 3rd Catalogue of Hydrologic Analysis (CHA) workshop – was held on 27 October. Technical presentations for eventual development into case studies for sharing across the region were made by participants from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, and the Philippines. The workshop presented the first volume of the CHA, a newly established regional cooperative publication series, and advanced the development of the second volume. An invitation was issued for all interested member states to submit manuscripts for inclusion in the next volume of the CHA by June 2021, to be developed through an iterative process.

The next IHP RSC0AP meeting will be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2021, pending improvements in the pandemic situation across the globe.