Building resilience in public policy and regulation for water services

Resilient systems are those with the capacity to absorb and recover from shocks (climatic, demographic and economic), while adapting and transforming their structures and functioning to continuous pressures, changes and uncertainty. Current policies, regulations and institutions will have to align to these changes; reducing risks but taking care of managing the remaining ones. Context matters. Not all countries will suffer these challenges in the same way and so measures must differ.

Programme committee

Darryl Day
Water Directorate, NT, Australia

Peter Grevatt
US EPA, United States

Trevor Bishop
OFWAT, United Kingdom

David Alves
ERSAR, Portugal

Ivaylo Kastchiev
EWRC, Bulgaria

David Cunliffe
SA Health, South Australia

Seamus Parker
QTC, Australia


Governments increasingly see regulation as a vital function in safeguarding good service levels, public health and environmental integrity in water management. Good public policy and regulation strengthen transparency, accountability and confidence of the sector to government, citizens and water companies.

The Lisbon Charter for Public Policy and Regulation of Water Supply, Sanitation and Wastewater Services (2015) outlines
the principles, roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders in developing public policy, establishing regulatory frameworks and delivering services, which “should be considered and adapted as appropriate to respond to specific circumstances and conditions”.

Todays’ specific circumstances and conditions are ever dynamic, with climatic variability, changing demographics and economic growth adding uncertainty and increasing risks to water management. ‘Water security’ and ‘resiliency’ are the new paradigms to plan towards. As a recent OECD report highlights, it is imperative to invest in the three I’s: infrastructure, institutions and information for water security (Securing Water, Sustaining Growth, 2015).

The role of public policy and regulation in enabling these investments is critical. They can provide a breakthrough in reforming the sector, catalyzing innovation and attracting investments; regulatory authorities are the key players bridging and balancing interests of all stakeholders. Across sector and ‘along the cycle’ harmonised action is needed to address universal access to drinking water and sanitation along with issues of quality and supply, improved water management to protect ecosystems and building resiliency. These should ensure that inter-dependent regulatory outcomes like public health, ensuring eco-system stability and financial viability of services are not compromised in the long-term.

Expected outcomes

The third version of this Forum continues offering a platform
for regulatory authorities from all over the world for exchanging experiences, transferring skills and building new partnerships. This year, high level water services regulatory authorities and their interlinks with public health and environmental regulators will meet their peers from related sectors, to build the foundations
of an effective strategy for resilience in the provision of these services and progressing the principles as articulated in the Lisbon Charter for their application in the context of resilient water systems.


Opening Plenary (10:15-10:50) Room S1

Chair: Seamus Parker, Queensland Treasury Corporation, AU

The interdependence between regulatory functions and the relationship of regulators to service providers, governments and citizens, are of increasing importance in the context of resilient cities and water systems at large. This year leaders of regulatory authorities from all regions gather to progress in the implementation of the Lisbon Charter and build a strategy for its application in this context, contributing to better integrate public policy and regulation in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, UN 2016-2030. Following the welcome of the Master of Ceremony, the Forum will commence with words from Jaime Baptista (National Laboratory of Civil Engineering, PT) on the “Lisbon Charter: challenges, expectations and responsibilities for water regulators and other stakeholders”; and keynote presentation by Ron Ben-David (Essential Services Commission of Victoria, AU) on the “New framework for the water industry – changes towards resilience”.

Session 1 (10:50-12:10) Room S1

Chair: David Cunliffe, South Australia Department of Health, AU

Decaying infrastructure and the duty to extend service provision, with rapidly evolving economies, demographics and health requirements are today’s main challenges for water, sanitation and wastewater treatment. Sound economic regulatory frameworks, enforcement regimes and better asset management practices are needed to encourage long-term infrastructure resilience keeping services running. This session will also explore the tools being used to deal with these challenges, e.g. financial, incentives for non-infrastructure solutions, tariff design and value sharing infrastructure investments. The session will commence with an inspirational speech by the Chairman and continue with presentations and roundtable discussions led by Maria Sonabel S. Anarna (Department of Health, PH); Alan Sutherland (Water Industry Commission for Scotland, UK); Dan Spiller (Seqwater, AU); Pranav S. Joshi (National Environment Agency, SG); concluding with an open plenary discussion and key messages for resilient cities and water systems at large.

Lunch (12:10-13:30)

Session 2 (13:30-14:50) Room S1

Chair: Darryl Day, Northern Territory Water Directorate, AU

Mitigation measures and environmental regulations are increasing costs and challenging the capacity to sustain reliable provision of services as well as public trust. Connecting old style regulations for drinking water and sanitation, and those for environmental safeguarding of water sources is needed –but building resilience cannot become an obstacle to the progressive realization of these human rights. The session will commence with an inspirational speech by Hon. Mlungisi Johnson (Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, SA) and continue with presentations and roundtable discussions led by David Johnston (Queensland Treasury Corporation, AU); Richard Khaldi (OFWAT, UK); Alberto Biancardi (AEEGSI, IT and WAREG); Peter Njaggah (WASREB, KE); concluding with an open plenary discussion and key messages for resilient cities and water systems at large.

Break (14:50-15:30)

Session 3 (15:30-16:50) Room S1

Chair: Jaime Baptista, National Laboratory of Civil Engineering, PT

Adapting to continuous pressures requires appropriate institutional arrangements at different scales and across governance levels. A new set of flexible capacities, multi-stakeholder planning, risk management and engagement tools are needed. This session will review different approaches taken at various governance levels to build resilience in their systems, the gaps and the opportunities with other sectors and stakeholders. The session will commence with an inspirational speech by Paulo Marcelo (ERSAR, PT) and continue with presentations and roundtable discussions led by Kelvin Chitumbo (NWASCO, ZM and ESAWAS); Kevin Parks (Alberta Energy Regulator, CA); Kazuhisa Matsuda (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, JP);  Zelmira Mackova (Ministry of Agriculture, CZ); concluding with an open plenary discussion and key messages for resilient cities and water systems at large.

Closing Plenary (16:50-17:00) Room S1

Chair: Carolina Latorre, IWA, CL

The Forum will finalize in a closing panel discussion with the programme committee members Darryl Day (Northern Territory Water Directorate, AU), Trevor Bishop (OFWAT, UK), David Cunliffe (South Australia Department of Health, AU) and Seamus Parker (Queensland Treasury Corporation, AU).

Contact information

For more information about this event please contact Ms. Carolina Latorre at

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