An ADB-led simulation game held during the 2013 World Water Week showed that cooperation is key to ensure water security in Asia.

Water security in Asia and the Pacific is under threat from many sources: population growth, rapid economic expansion, increasing water pollution, the over-abstraction of groundwater, water-related disasters, and climate change. An interactive simulation game held at the Eye on Asia event during the 2013 World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, showed that cooperation is key to address these problems effectively and ensure water security in Asia.

"We had high hopes that the game would engage the audience," said Ian Makin, a water resource specialist at ADB.

"We were delighted that very experienced water professionals joined enthusiastically and appreciated the realistic challenges posed in the game of transboundary negotiation."

The game, which included interactive discussion sessions, encouraged participants, organized in teams, to explore the complexity and scale of river basin management, including challenges of securing water, food and energy in the face of climate change. Their tasks were complicated by factors such as the varying topography of mountain and coastal zones, and the interaction and trade-offs between conservation and construction, agriculture and recreation, energy and environment, and demands from both public and private enterprise.

Cooperation is name of the game

The teams engaged in negotiations to help them explore and understand the issues better, allowing them to formulate strategies and solutions to achieve desired results. All participants, including stakeholders from Asia's water sector, political leaders, development partners and investors, representatives of government agencies, the private sector, civil society, academe, and media, were encouraged to take part in the game.

The goal of the exercise was effective water cooperation. Each player was expected to aid the team in determining how to establish cooperation to identify development options and find effective and sustainable solutions to the emerging challenges and constraints in the river basins of Asia.

Participants say the game gave them an insight into the politics involved in negotiations. "The simulation showed a different way to learn about water issues," one player said. Another said that the teams found the exercise "interesting and productive, allowing us to identify agreements quickly through positive and trusting attitudes."

Voice of the youth

At Stockholm World Water Week 2013, efforts have focused on empowering young leaders of Asia to tackle the region's water challenges. ADB enabled youth voices to be heard in policy dialogue through the ADB-sponsored youth participants, seven hopeful leaders of tomorrow, who attended the event as panelists and correspondents.