Policy innovation assists reform and strengthens collaboration

Monday, 30 April, 2018

The Nepal-Australia Joint Advisory Committee on Water Resources Management recently met in Nepal to review current projects and explore new opportunities. ICE WaRM convenes this meeting between Nepal and Australia as part of its contribution to the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP).

Australian Ambassador to Nepal, Mr Pete Budd highlighted that this was the first meeting of the Committee under the new MoU between the Government of Nepal and the Government of Australia signed in November 2017.

Mr Budd expressed great interest in broadening discussions to include food and energy issues in addition to water management and indicated that the five-year terms of the Parliament in Nepal provides stability and an opportunity to strengthen the relationship.

Joint Secretary, Water and Energy Commission Secretariat, Mr Mahdav Belbase, agreed that Government stability and the leadership of the Minister for Water and Energy, allowed for the progression of issues such as policy innovation, development of legislation and building the capability of institutions.

Nepal is in a time of change and reform, with a new Constitution and Water Policy, so it is important to avoid conflict by helping the community, as well as politicians, understand the intent of the new laws being introduced.

Earlier this year ICE WaRM Executive Sector Specialist, Mr Andrew Johnson visited Nepal to continue assisting in the development of Nepal’s water policy and legislation and the CSIRO provided training to nine government officials from Nepal, in Canberra.

Australia’s ongoing support and commitment to Nepal also includes capacity building for the Water and Energy Commission Secretariat as part of Australia’s continued engagement though SDIP.

The recent visit of Nepali academics as part of the Himalayan University Consortium (HUC) group to Australia, sponsored by ICIMOD, further demonstrates Australia’s commitment to water resource management in Nepal and South Asia more broadly.

CSIRO and ICE WaRM have also engaged legal and policy support for the Basin Planning programme through Ms Megan Dyson, one of Australia’s leading water lawyers, and Ms Di Favier, a senior policy officer from the Department of Environment and Water in South Australia.

While much progress has been made on water resource management issues, there is still work to be done as we explore the linkages between water management and the energy sector as well as issues related to climate change and agriculture.