SINGAPORE - Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda today unveiled a seven-point agenda to prioritize water investments in the Asia-Pacific region and said that the institution is committed to helping countries in the region boost new water investments to $20 billion to improve water security.

Speaking in Singapore at a summit of regional water leaders, Mr. Kuroda called the needs and opportunities to improve water services in Asia and the Pacific immense, and said that there is a huge dividend from working in partnerships to deliver tangible results that draw on the region's knowledge and experience.

"We, at the Asian Development Bank, take our responsibility to help design and implement solutions very seriously," Mr. Kuroda said. "In our recently approved long-term strategic framework, known as Strategy 2020, we highlight water as a key priority area of operations in the coming years."

The new agenda offered by Mr. Kuroda calls for more investments in rural water services to increase agricultural productivity and ease escalating food prices, and for developing more bankable urban projects that improve water utility performance.

It also calls for improving collaboration on integrated water resource management in river basins; increasing investments in climate change adaptation measures; increased investment in reducing vulnerability to water disasters; improving water governance, performance and knowledge management; and developing partnerships to catalyze investments and pool the region's knowledge in these priority areas.

The call for the region to prioritize water investments comes at the mid-way point of ADB's Water Financing Program (WFP) 2006-2010, for which the institution had committed to double its water program and catalyze substantial investment, reform, and capacity development in the three key areas of rural water, urban water, and basin water.

Projects funded under WFP aim to provide sustainable access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation; establish more productive and efficient irrigation and drainage services; reduce the risk of flooding; introduce integrated water resources management in river basins; and improve water governance.

"We, at ADB, offer our resources and Water Financing Program as a platform for working together with our clients and partners," Mr. Kuroda said. "Working in partnership, we can catalyze investments and pool the region's knowledge in these priority areas, to raise the standard of living for hundreds of millions of poor people in the region and increase water security for all."