The 7th Pacific Water Conference and Expo was hosted by the Pacific Water and Wastes Associationin partnership with the American Samoa Power Authority from the 9th – 11th September in Utulei, American Samoa. The conference was opened with a cultural ceremony, organized by the host, and featured international and Pacific speakers, technical papers and workshops focused on the theme “Water and Energy in the Pacific”. With around 150 participants, this was yet another successful conference for utilities worldwide.
GWOPA representative took part in the plenary panel after the official opening of the Conference and presented the WOPs global movement and GWOPA's activities worldwide, focussing on the actions in Asia and the Pacific region. During the Conference, GWOPA also held some bilateral meetings with potential partners, including Pacific Water and Wastes Association (PWWA),Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF) and New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Among the many highlights for GWOPA's activities during the conference, the agreement with the PWWA to sign a cooperation agreement is particularly pertinent. Through this agreement, GWOPA will support the Secretariat in developing their capacity to facilitate WOPs as well as to implement WOPs related activities in the region throughout 2015.
Also noteworthy was the participation of a representative from the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA). Inter-regional cooperation between the Pacific and the Caribbean regions was strongly requested by representatives from the two regions during the GWOPA Steering Committee in March 2014 in Marrakesh and based on their similar geographical characteristics. In both regions, operators face water challenges such as water resources management, climate change adaptation and sustainable water and sanitation service provision. GWOPA had an opportunity to discuss with PWWA and CWWA at the Conference how this new partnership should be facilitated and agreed that the next step is to send a PWWA member utility to the CWWA annual conference taking place in October 2014 in Bahamas with the support of GWOPA.
The conference showcased interesting new partnerships in the Northern Pacific sub-region or Micronesia, notably with the new membership of the Guam Waterworks Authority in the PWWA. Water utilities in Northern Pacific have now started to discuss partnership activities in this sub-region. Given that the Pacific countries are geographically very disperse and travel from the North to the South is difficult, this is very reasonable approach to facilitating peer exchanges in the region and GWOPA is committed to supporting a, "one to many" pilot WOP in this sub-region with Guam Waterworks Authority playing the mentor role. The details of this WOP, such as the focus area, will be discussed further with partners.