On 16 March 2023, The Water Agency and Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam held an online seminar on the theme of ‘The Impact of Online Water Education on International Water Collaboration’ alongside with festive launch of the Asia Water Academy. The event was attended by more than 80 people from various international institutions in the Netherlands, across Asian countries, and Africa.
With a dedication to improving education, knowledge, and communication, The Water Agency is addressing the theoretical and practical knowledge gap by developing an online education platform: Asia Water Academy. The courses at Asia Water Academy offer a broad range of video lectures provided by various international and local water experts. It includes not only knowledge-based courses from academic lecturers but also courses on practical applications and international best practices in climate adaptation projects across Asia.
The event started with a welcoming speech from Dr. Aletta Kraneveld, the Dean of the Faculty of Science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Aletta emphasized the need for capacity building and knowledge sharing on the topics of water and the environment, especially in Southeast Asia and the Netherlands, where both regions have abundant water resources but are facing water-related risks due to rapid development and climate change.
The water oriented education project in Myanmar was initiated in 2019, focusing on improving interdisciplinary practices– explained by Ms Esther den Hartog from the Centre for International Cooperation, VU Amsterdam. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the political situation, the project had to be shifted online, leading to the launch of the Asia Water Academy platform. Since then, we have two building blocks of the project named WE are Water Education and Asia Water Academy, which aim to provide practical knowledge and skills for young professionals in Myanmar and other Asian countries. Mr Gregor van Essen from The Water Agency also expressed his hope that through this project, the online learning experience would be more relevant, engaging, and valuable for local professionals in their daily practice.
The official launch of the Asia Water Academy website was presented by Ms Simone van der Post, the Deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands Embassy in Myanmar. Ms Simone highlighted the Netherlands’ strong expertise in water governance and technology innovation through a broad collaboration, including infrastructure development, capacity building for governance and education. With limited specialized courses on the water in Myanmar, the Asia Water Academy is a crucial platform for filling the gap in educational opportunities for Myanmar’s youth.
The seminar then featured perspectives on the impact of online water education on international water collaboration, covering government and education, international water projects and youth, and business and research. The speakers come from various institutions – Ms Nienke Swagemakers from NUFFIC, Mr Richard Matey from Youth Climate Council Ghan, and Mr Nanco Dolman from Deltares. The seminar concluded with interactive group discussions on online water education’s potential, use, and sustainability, followed by feedback from the group discussions.
In conclusion, as the Asia Water Academy continues to enhance the value of water education for professionals and practitioners, it is worth noting that this learning platform is now open to all young professionals in Asia. We look forward to the positive impact this initiative will have on the future of water education in the region.
Do you have international best practices, or are you interested in showcasing your work in Asia Water Academy? Please do not hesitate to reach out to us anytime!
Watch the introduction video of Asia Water Academy below.