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Forum on Responsible Business Practices for Sustainable Water Management on Resort Islands takes place © JW Marriott Phuket resort & Spa

December 2017

Forum on Responsible Business Practices for Sustainable Water Management on Resort Islands takes place © JW Marriott Phuket resort & Spa

Phuket - 1 December 2017: The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in collaboration with Marriott Thailand Business Council hosts "The Sustainable island for the future: Multi-stakeholder Forum on Responsible Business Practices for Sustainable Water Management on Resort Islands", at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, Phuket province, Thailand.

On this occasion, Marc Proksch, Investment and Enterprise Development Section, Trade, Investment and Innovation Division of ESCAP presided over the forum. The welcome addressed by guest honored Prakob Wongmaneerung, Vice-Governor, Provincial Government of Phuket and Kanokkittika Kritwutikon, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket Office.

The representatives also included senior officials responsible for water management and access issues in key island tourism destinations in South-East Asia. key Ministries at national level, resorts operating in island communities, companies offering innovative solutions for water management, civil society and universities based in Phuket.

The forum event aims to build on and broaden last year's discussion to the South-East Asia regional level, focusing on island tourism destinations in South-East Asia and to share innovative and cost-efficient business practices and technologies for ensuring sustainable water use and re-use in large and small resorts for potential inclusion in a best practice guide.

The background: Water crises present one of the most significant global risks over the coming decade, rated third by the World Economic Forum in terms of potential impact. However, despite being a critical resource for our survival, water remains undervalued and underpriced and thus overused. As a consequence, the world's groundwater - main source of freshwater - is used much more quickly than it is being replenished. With high economic and population growth coupled with impacts of climate change, it is predicted that large parts of Asia will suffer serious water shortages by 2050.

Tourism is a very important source of income and jobs in many Asia-Pacific economies. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism accounted for 9% of GDP and 8.7% of employment in the region if indirect impacts are included. The region attracted some 300 million international tourist arrivals in 2016, generating nearly 455 billion USD in visitor exports. By 2027 arrivals are expected to nearly double to reach 549 million tourist arrivals per year.

As positive as this tourism is. it takes a heavy toll on our water supplies that is simply not sustainable with our current approach. Maintaining gardens, pools, spas and other resort facilities is already proving a challenge in Phuket where resorts are already often reliant on truck water deliveries to meet resort needs with high resulting costs and if we don't act now it will only get worse as tourist numbers increase.

The forum shared good practices in water and wastewater management and innovative technology solutions. Participants shared how to reduce water consumption in hotels both at source and by ensuring better wastewater treatment. The government of Phuket shared information on the water situation and wastewater management in Phuket and plans for the future. Participants noted that clear and enforced building codes that integrate sustainability considerations could be useful for pushing better water and wastewater management on a broader scale.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations member states in 2015. include 17 goals of which one dedicated to water and sanitation (SDG 6: "ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for The United Nations has also designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism.