Lecture 7: Water Policy

by Dashi Zhang, RMIT University

The opportunity to attend the 2013 ProSPER.Net Young Researchers’ School “Partnerships in Water and Biodiversity for Sustainable Development” in Bangkok, Thailand, provided me a better understanding of water and biodiversity for sustainability. The lectures and field trips highlighted several aspects of water and biodiversity, which I had no knowledge before. The three minute thesis competition also helped me with skills on how to present my dissertation ideas in a short time and how to make a clear PPT slide.

On 13 September, Dr. Chaiyuth Sukhsri gave us a lecture on water policy. He addressed some important issues such as the future of water policy, the facts and figures on administration and technical information on water policy, problems faced in water resources management and also a case study of water policy.

For existing problems in water resources management, he pointed out that firstly, the current policies are not holistic; the organisations have no clear responsibilities, and there is not much co-ordination and participation; the legislation is outdated and not holistic, addressing specific issues only; and the information and knowledge on water policy are scattered, outdated, and there is no linkage in an appropriate system.

He gave us a clear idea of what is policy, about policy development, and the goals, objectives, laws, and regulations for water policy. He explored the subject from the point of view of water policy decision-makers and also discussed about the failures. For example, the adequacy and the breadth and scope of the current water policy are not enough. Also, there might be resistance to change current policies.  For Thailand’s challenge in water policy, he concluded that the existing policies have not touched many specific issues, and the organisations need to be strengthened.  He also gave us some ideas on how to provide for water and food conservation, and some plans to reduce the number of victims of water-related disasters. In the end, he gave us some ideas of basin development plan by using the example of Mekong integrated water resources management; appropriate policies under integrated water resources management; and Thailand water policy.

He suggested that Thailand creates a water management organisation for natural river basins with supporting legislation, and emphasised the need of sustainable and equitable water allocation for water use.

In summary, I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend the 2013 YRS and make new friends from other ProSPER.Net institutions. From the field trips, I could learn more about water, watershed, biodiversity, energy etc.