Diverse Voices and Representation for Stronger Climate Resilient WASH Systems

A group of people are standing on stage, they are the Asia Pacific speakers from this session along with the session moderator
From left:  Session Facilitator, Zahra Bolouri, Water for Women along with the in-person presenters for this session, Lou-Ellen Martin, Michelle Hobbs, Prof. Phil Duncan, Ruhil Iyer, Tema Wickham, Dr Milika Sobey.

In an increasingly fraught world beset by climate hazards, enabling more equitable WASH systems through diversity at the decision-making table is key to a more inclusive and climate resilient future and essential for achieving global targets including the SDGs.

During this fantastic World Water Week session, Diverse Voices and Representation for Stronger Climate Resilient WASH Systems, we heard from six experts from Asia and the Pacific who, through their own experience and with case study examples, shared how they have identified and addressed barriers to inclusive water resources management and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) access by focusing on changing underlying systemic norms.

Rich examples of cross-sectoral partnerships between WASH and gender equality, disability and social inclusion (GEDSI) actors for inclusive systems change were presented, concretely demonstrating how water and WASH programs can support collective action to influence normative changes, promoting equity and inclusion in water WASH systems - a prerequisite for accelerating progress towards Agenda 2030, SDG6 and SDG5 (and all global targets and agendas that depend on them). Some of these case studies and session resources are shared below.

If you missed this hybrid online and on-site session, you can catch up below.

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An intro slide to this session featuring words and a picture

View case studies

Some of the work presented has been turned into these shareable case studies below. 

Key takeaways

  • WASH systems are made up of people, and different dimensions of power. For effective systems change, we need to address prevailing norms to shift power so that processes, structures and outcomes are more equitable and sustainable.
  • Diverse systems are strong systems.  Strengthening mechanisms to support diversity in voice and representation brings different viewpoints, networks and pathways to change. Urgent action must be taken to include the voices of women, Indigenous people and people with diverse lived experience to achieve climate resilient inclusive WASH systems.
  • Indigenous knowledge holders and cultural leaders bring deep and spiritual connections to water and country, as well as important cultural science about climate impacts and solutions. Bringing their voice, knowledge and expertise to the centre of water and WASH systems change benefits us all.  
  • Scaling up mechanisms to support “both ways” knowledge from climate scientists and local/Indigenous knowledge holders in the community (including women and marginalised groups), is key to understanding which communities are at the forefront of climate impacts, and to enable effective planning for climate resilient inclusive WASH services.



  • Fraser Goff, WaterAid Australia
  • Rana Abdel-Sattar, WASH Program Manager iDE Cambodia
  • Ruhil Iyer, Institute of Development Studies
  • Dr Milika Sobey, Consultant
  • Tema Wickham, Plan International Pacific, Solomon Islands
  • Michelle Hobbs, Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University
  • Professor Phil Duncan Galambany Professorial Fellow, Centre for Applied Water Science, University of Canberra
  • Lou Ellen Martin Branch head, Water Regulation and Governance Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water

Additional resources

A number of supplementary resources on systems strengthening and further information about their work has been shared by presenters, these resources are listed below.

Thumbnails of Water for Women Systems Strengthening learning resources

This session was proudly convened with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, Griffith University, iDE Cambodia, Plan International Solomon Islands, Sanitation Learning Hub, the University of Canberra, WaterAid and Water for Women.


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