Speech by Woochong Um, ADB Managing Director General and Office-in-Charge Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, at the fourth Asia-Pacific Water Summit, 23 April 2022


It is my pleasure to speak at the 4th Asia-Pacific Water Summit on behalf of the Asian Development Bank.


Water underpins all sustainable development. It is critical to human wellbeing, healthy ecosystems, poverty reduction, economic growth, peace, and security.

While water security is gradually improving in Asia and the Pacific, according to ADB’s 2020 Asian Water Development Outlook, 2.1 billion people still lack adequate water supply and sanitation provision.


We face an unprecedented time in history. Climate change and disasters threaten sustainable development, and these pressures are compounded by the ongoing global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Climate change poses an imminent risk to water security. The effects of climate change will be primarily felt through water, as the region experiences more extreme water events and as water availability becomes less predictable.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn much-needed attention to the importance of safe and reliable water supply services for all. However, it has also exposed system shortfalls and barriers to access, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.

Solutions and commitments

ADB’s vision is “an Asia and Pacific region that is prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable”—aligning with the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Improvements in water security are essential for achieving this vision, as water is the binding element in development interventions: from tackling hunger and improving public health to creating livable cities and establishing resilient communities.

We stand with our partners, clients, and other regional stakeholders to further the commitments under the Yangon Declaration by:

  • investing in climate adaptation and water security;
  • facilitating the delivery of safe water and sanitation services; and
  • forging funding partnerships to meet global water goals.

In 2021, ADB elevated our climate financing ambition to $100 billion cumulatively from 2019 to 2030, with $34 billion for climate adaptation finance.

Through our Strategy 2030, we are committed to promoting investments in quality water infrastructure that prioritize long-term resilience.

We are also helping to disseminate pioneering technologies in the region that can significantly improve the monitoring and management of water resources. The power of these digital solutions has been evident in enabling water coverage and tracking amid the complexities of the pandemic.

Further, we are working to increase private sector participation in water, which is essential for quality service provision in the region. Public sector investments dominate the water sector. However, public funds can be better used to leverage private sector financing through blended finance and de-risking investments.


While our challenges are immense, this summit represents the collective potential resources, collaborations, knowledge, and solutions to help meet the Sustainable Development Goals and build a water-secure and resilient Asia and the Pacific.

We look forward to continued cooperation towards achieving these objectives.