Australia’s Assistant Defence Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke, has been applauded for being the first Australian minister ever to attend a Pacific Water and Wastewater Association (PWWA) Ministerial Forum.
PWWA, which is the collective voice for the Pacific on water related issues at the regional and international level has been in existence for more than two decades.
The attendance of the Australian Minister at the 5th PWWA Ministerial Forum in Port Vila this week was “a win” for the association.
According to the PWWA Chairman, Raka Junior Taviri, Minister Hawke announced a funding facility from which Pacific countries can take money from to rehabilitate and improve infrastructures in his recent to Port Vila for the annual Wastewater Ministerial Forum.
“Australia and New Zealand as our two big brother and sister countries must accept that we are their closest neighbors. They have to come and help us out. If they don’t, where do we go and we have other options,” he said.
“We want them (NZ and Australia) to come on board. We need all countries to come together at the political level and accept the fact that we have issues in terms of water and sanitation. We need regional cooperation.
“The annual Wastewater Ministerial Forum intends to get the water agenda to the bilateral and multilateral levels where the funds are there. We want many investments and funds as much as possible.
“We are trying to use PWWA as our unified voice at the international arena.”
PWWA has 21 member countries and 30 utilities across the country.
While acknowledging Australia for stepping in terms of investment in the Pacific, PWWA Chairman Taviri also urged all governments to act faster on climate change and response to the needs of their people for water.
“I want to invite other utilities who are not part of PWWA to become members. We are prepared to bring them in despite their lack of financial membership,” he said.
“We want everyone to unite and work together to deliver the universal water and sanitation sustainable development goals.
“I also want to appeal to allied utilities from Australian and NZ companies with expertise to come and work with us, including those from New Caledonia.”
The PWWA Chairman is also the current Manager of Water PNG and Acting Manager of Eda Ranu, the water utilities in Papua New Guinea.