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World Water Day 2021

What does water mean to me? Valuing and safeguarding water resources


MS Teams

Date & Time

22 March 2021


Arun Bhakta Shrestha


The Hindu Kush Himalaya supports the lives and livelihoods of 1.9 billion people, among which 0.92 billion live in the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra river basins. The main sources of water in these three basins are snow and glacier melt, and rainfall-groundwater-runoff processes.

World Water Day is celebrated on 22 March every year to focus on the importance of freshwater. The theme for this year, “Valuing Water”, aims to capture how different people and various sectors value water and its uses, and the water-related challenges they are facing due to climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Water is fundamental to life and adds enormous value to our lives, livelihood, wellbeing, cultural practices, and to the environment. By recognizing and better understanding all the different values attributed to water, we can safeguard it effectively for everyone.



This webinar has the following objectives:

  • Explore how people from various socio-economic backgrounds view water, its uses, and value
  • Learn about water-related challenges faced by people on a daily basis
  • Highlight the need to balance development and conservation efforts while considering multiple stakeholder interests


Key messages from panelists
On World Water Day, 22 March, we organised a webinar that brought together regional water experts, decision makers, and community and private sector representatives to discuss this year’s theme “Valuing water” and how people from various socio-economic backgrounds and sectors view water, its uses, and value. They also discussed everyday water-related challenges and the need to balance development and conservation efforts and multiple stakeholder interests.

We present below some of the key messages from the discussions:

Jyoti Raj Patra

Jyoti Raj Patra

Programme Manager, Transboundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA)

Transboundary perspective

“Data secrecy and misinformation about transboundary water issues has hindered transboundary cooperation and water diplomacy.”

Data on water quantity and quality, river flows, including climate-related data, are classified and not shared among countries.

We need to build trust through collaborative research and evidence building involving different institutions from the basin countries.

Think tanks and research bodies need to play a proactive role in bridging data gaps and including non-state actors in transboundary water issues and water diplomacy.

Manohara Khadka

Manohara Khadka

Country Representative, International Water Management Institute, Nepal

Practitioner’s perspective

“In valuing water, it is essential to capture the voices of people whose livelihood is directly dependent on water such as smallholder farmers, producers, and tenants.”

Climate change is the main cause for the region’s acute water scarcity. Any approach to addressing this issue must acknowledge the huge divide between water use and water access across different societies.

Need to develop a water adaption plan that takes water as an entry point for local adaption planning and processes within the community.

Need to provide a decision support system by generating community-specific knowledge and information through research.

Irina Gurung

Irina Gurung

Country Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability Manager, Bottlers Nepal Limited

Private sector perspective

“Water is the key ingredient for Coca-Cola and ensuring the supply of fresh clean water will remain a top priority for the company.”

The decline in freshwater supplies can have serious implications for business operations and continuity as most ingredients are water dependent.

In our effort to reduce water use to produce beverages, The Coca-Cola Company has invested in recycling and replenishing water in the communities.

In 2005, the company committed to going water neutral by replenishing all the water used in its finished goods back into the local ecosystem and communities. In 2020, our water use and replenishment data showed that we are well on track in our efforts to go water neutral.

In Nepal, the company is contributing to improving water use and management in households and agriculture through an integrated water resource management approach.

wasim iqbal

Wasim Iqbal

Afghanistan National Water and Environmental Research Center

Government perspective

“Ensuring access to water and services such as irrigation to all members of the society is a priority for the Government of Afghanistan.”

The major challenge in ensuring access to water is the lack of clear cross sectoral policies and strategies on water management and the feedback loop.

We are streamlining roles and responsibilities for water management, facilitating and organising discussions within basin systems.

We are improving policy coherence, and investing in capacity development, data, and information management.

Rehan Shah

Rehan Shah

President, Ghulkin Village Organization (VO), Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan

Community perspective

“For mountain people, water is the foundation of every socio-economic activity including transport, agriculture, food, and fisheries.”

Climate change-induced water-related hazards including glacial lake outburst floods, landslides, and heavy snowfall are the biggest threat to the Ghulkin community.

Mountain springs, an important water source for the community, are drying up.

Ghulkin is dependent on glacier meltwater for irrigation. Rapid glacier retreat is taking this water source away from communities.

There is a need to promote use of innovative technologies to improve conventional water management, such as pipes to replace old water channels, drip irrigation, and need-based distribution of water.

There is a need for early warning systems to reduce risk and hazards from natural disasters and trained volunteers from the communities to manage these systems.




22 March | MS Teams | 14:00 (Nepal Standard Time)

Moderated by Arun Shrestha, ICIMOD

Time Programme description Speaker/resource person
13:45-14:00 Registration Ashmita Shakya, ICIMOD
14:00-14:05 Opening remarks Pema Gyamtsho, Director General, ICIMOD
14:05-14:50 Panel discussion Moderator: Miriam Jackson, ICIMOD
Community perspective Rehan Shah, President,  Gulkhin Village Organisation, Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan
Transboundary perspective Jyoti Raj Patra, Programme Manager, Transboundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA)
Practitioner’s perspective Manohara Khadka, Country Representative, International Water Management Institute, Nepal
Private sector perspective Irina Gurung, The Coca Cola Company/The Bottlers Nepal
Government perspective Wasim Iqbal, Afghanistan National Water and Environmental Research Center
14:50-15:00 Multimedia showcase: People’s reflections on what water means to them Chimi Seldon, ICIMOD
15:00-15:10 Launch and demonstration of the Indus Knowledge and Partnership Platform (IKPP) Launch by Basanta Shrestha, ICIMOD

Demo by Sharmila Dhungana, ICIMOD

15:10-15:20 What does water mean to me? Participant experiences and perspectives Chimi Seldon, ICIMOD
15:20-15:25 Summary and wrap-up Randall Ritzema, ICIMOD