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Malaysia: Water Cooperation at Work Across South East Asia and the Pacific

At the UNESCO-Humid Tropics Center in Kuala Lumpur, integrated water management begins at home: green roof, porous pavement, rainwater harvesting and a constructed wetland are among the features of this institution that Director-General, Irina Bokova, visited in Kuala Lumpur on 21 May, the first day of her official visit to Malaysia.

During his introductory presentation, the Centre’s Director Mr Mohamed Roseli Bin Zainal Abidin, explained that the Regional Humid Tropics Hydrology and Water Resources Centre for South-East Asia and the Pacific (HTCKL) aims to promote collaboration and partnership in water management through technology, information exchange, education and science. 

Operating under the Department of Irrigation and Drainage in Malaysia, the Centre conducts multi-disciplinary research in the field of hydrology and water resources, organizes training workshops, publishes research papers and reaches out to youth through a water education program. It also contributes to the activities of the International Hydrological Programme.

“You are part of the water family in UNESCO,” said Mrs Bokova. “Water is the common denominator of all world challenges – in health, in farming, in energy, in urbanization. It can be the common solution also – but this requires commitment, and this is what I see here today,” she said, paying special thanks to the Government, represented by the Director-General of the Department of Irrigation and Draining, Mr Ahmad Husaini Bin Sulaiman.

Drawing attention to UNESCO’s lead in the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation, Mrs Bokova recalled that far more than a technical issue, water challenges demand innovative thinking, sharing and cooperation across the board to preserve ecosystems, eradicate poverty and advance social equity, placing special emphasis on women’s empowerment. All this requires “stronger water governance between and within States,” an approach that the HTC is actively promoting through its training and capacity building programmes involving countries across the South-East Asia and the Pacific.

She also placed water cooperation within the context of shaping the post-2015 agenda, stressing the importance of translating a strategic and political vision into sustainable solutions on the ground – precisely through fostering strong cooperation between the academic community, governments and multilateral institutions.

Launched in 1999 under the auspices of UNESCO, HTCKL aims to be a World Water Center of Excellence by 2020.