Speech by Woochong Um, ADB Managing Director General and Office-in-Charge Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, at the Nineteenth Meeting of High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters, 21 April 2022

Opening and introduction

Prime Minister Han, your excellencies, distinguished guests: On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, it is my pleasure to speak at the 19th Meeting of the High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters.

It’s an honor to be stepping into the role of HELP member representing ADB.


As we know, water is the primary medium through which we will feel the impacts of climate change. The recent IPCC report once again warns that the adaptation gap is growing and that soon it might be either too costly or too late.

ADB’s commitment

Water plays a pivotal role in ADB’s strategy to achieve its climate adaption goals. In 2021, we elevated ADB’s ambition for delivering climate financing to $100 billion from 2019 to 2030, with $66 billion for climate mitigation finance and $34 billion for scaling-up transformative adaptation projects and enhanced resilience.

Our ADB water sector portfolio, totaling about $26 billion, directly supports water security and resilience for at least 650 million people in the region.

Given the urgency for adaptation actions, we have significantly increased our support through various technical and financial assistance to support water entities embed resilience. These efforts include deepening gender mainstreaming, boosting private sector participation, and increasing digitalization efforts, in addition to having the tools and capacity to tackle climate change.

ADB’s initiatives

While our Chief of Water Sector Group, Neeta Pokhrel, will provide further details to the HELP members on our new initiatives to mainstream water resilience in the region, let me highlight three components:

First, we have developed a guidance note on mainstreaming water resilience in Asia and Pacific to equip our staff and clients to significantly scale-up adaptation projects and programs in the water sector. This note will strengthen ADB’s ability to include climate considerations upstream in the project cycle and encourage policy dialogue to influence planning, project design, and policy making to embed resilience.

Second, ADB is operationalizing a new initiative, called “ARe yoU Water Resilient?”. This is a dedicated technical assistance platform, using a bottom-up approach to support ground-level water entities to become more resilient.

And third, ADB is establishing the Asia and the Pacific Water Resilience Hub to harness knowledge, develop partnerships, and provide training to help build local-level water resilience.


Financing water infrastructure is important to achieve the internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

All financing partners, including ADB and other multilateral development banks, must emphasize building long-term resilience by continuing to boost water financing under the SDG 6 and SDG 13.

Addressing water insecurity and living in harmony with nature will help us meet the SDGs and the global carbon neutrality goal.

As we approach the 2023 UN Mid-term Review Conference on Water Action Decade, it is also helpful to look back at what we have and have not achieved and in the last 5 years in the water sector and learn from this experience.


ADB will continue to work closely with HELP and its members in developing and implementing principles to find new ways to build a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific through water security.

I hope to see you at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York in March next year. Thank you.