AIT, UNESCO, and Chulalongkorn University jointly celebrated World Water Day 2021 on 22 March at AIT Conference Center via a hybrid platform to raise awareness on the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The theme for each year focuses on topics that are in line with the targets of SDG 6. And for this year, the theme is “Valuing Water”.
Prof. Dieter W. Trau, Dean School of Engineering and Technology welcomed all the distinguished guests and participants with a thank-you message to UNESCO and Chulalongkorn University for their efforts in jointly organizing the event with AIT. Prof. Dieter further introduced the School of Engineering and Technology (SET) and its mission to impact in social, environmental, and economic innovation for sustainable development. He added that the 60 years legacy of the Water Engineering and Management (WEM) program in education and training has been vital in the field of water resource engineering and its integrated management. Dr. Eden Y. Woon, President of AIT delivered an opening remark and highlighted all the thematic focuses of AIT. He further added, Water being one of the major thematic focus is also the strength of AIT’s education and research. Additionally, Dr. Woon emphasized the continued collaboration of AIT with UNESCO and Chulalongkorn University.
Dr. Sucharit Koontanakulvong, Associate Professor, Department of Water Resources Engineering, Chulalongkorn University (CU), and Prof. Mukand S. Babel Professor, Water Engineering and Management, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) delivered keynote speeches at the event. Dr. Sucharit’s keynote highlighted “Water issues in Thailand and Mekong Countries” and Prof. Babel’s highlighted on “Valuing Water for Enhanced Water Security”.
Dr. Benno Boer, Chief of Natural Sciences, UNESCO, Bangkok stressed the partnership between AIT and UNESCO, Bangkok for research and exchange of scientific information with each other. Furthermore, the event consisted of messages from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, DG, UNESCO, Mr. Niall O´Connor, Director, Stockholm Environment Institute, Asia Center, Dr. Jesper Dørge, Executive Director, DHI Denmark, Dr. Ancha Srinivasan, Principal Climate Change Specialist, Southeast Asia Department, ADB, Dr. Sutat Weesakul, Director, Hydro-Informatics Institute and Mr. Raunak Shrestha, Student, Water Engineering and Management, AIT on “World Water Day 2021”.
The event also comprised five different launching ceremonies of several initiatives and products. The first was the official launch of the World Water Development Report 2021 by Dr. Benno Boer and all distinguished guests. The other four initiatives have been introduced by Prof. Sangam Shrestha, Head, Department of Civil and Infrastructure Engineering, AIT, and launched by Dr. Eden Y. Woon which included:
- Dual Degree Program with Colorado State University (CSU), USA
- New Degree Program ‘Water Security and Global Change’
- WEM Real-time Weather and Hydrologic Monitoring System
- Water Security Assessment Tool
The final session of the event included the results of the “Photo Competition” announced by the WEM on the World Water Day 2021 with the theme “Valuing Water”. Prof. Sangam Shrestha announced Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Huong as the winner of the competition. The first and second runner-up of the competition were Ms. Surabhi Upadhyay and Ms. Priyanka Pandey respectively. Dr. Eden Y. Woon congratulated and provided certificates and prizes to all the winners. The event was wrapped up with the closing remarks from Dr. S. Mohana Sundaram, Assistant Professor, WEM, AIT where he concluded the messages and keynotes from all the distinguished speakers and thanked all the contributors and participants of the event.