SINGAPORE - Twelve organizations from across the Asia-Pacific region today launched a network to share solutions for improving water management to tackle the region's many pressing water challenges.

The network, known as "KnowledgeHubs," is an initiative of the Asia-Pacific Water Forum, which was established in 2006 with support from Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to promote leadership and boost investment in the water sector.

Some 650 million people in the Asia-Pacific region lack access to clean water and 2 billion are without adequate sanitation. Economic development, rural-to-urban migration, and greater industrial demand have increased competition for clean water. Meanwhile, climate change has made rainfall harder to predict, and floods and droughts are on the increase.

"The region is in urgent need of updated solutions-and more water professionals to implement them," ADB Lead Water Resources Specialist Wouter Lincklaen Arriens said at the launch. "KnowledgeHubs will harness the region's rich experience with water issues and give governments, water sector agencies, institutions and communities access to the best solutions available."

Through KnowledgeHubs, decades of experience with the region's most urgent water issues will be channeled into an open network of centers of excellence, each of which will take region-wide responsibility for knowledge networking on a priority water topic. The hubs will work together to coordinate services to clients and to leverage their respective experiences and the experiences of local, national, and international clients and partners.

"There's no question that our region has the expertise to solve its water challenges. Where we must do better is in knowledge sharing and in developing the capacity to produce results at the local level. For that, we need knowledge networks that connect people to feasible solutions and help them adapt those solutions to their local conditions," said Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large Professor Tommy Koh, Chair of the Asia-Pacific Water Forum's Governing Council.

KnowledgeHubs is supported by ADB, Singapore's national water agency PUB, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.

At the launch, Ravi Narayanan, Vice Chair of the forum's Governing Council, introduced the 12 founding members of KnowledgeHubs. They are PUB WaterHub, Singapore; International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management, Japan; National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia; Center for River Basin Organizations and Management, Indonesia; Korea Water Resources Corporation, the Republic of Korea; Center for Hydroinformatics in River Basins at the Yellow River Conservancy Commission, the People's Republic of China; Institute of Water Policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore; International Water Management Institute, Sri Lanka; Central Asia IWRM Resource Center, Uzbekistan; Pacific IWRM Resource Centre, the Fiji Islands; International Research and Training Center on Erosion and Sedimentation, the People's Republic of China; and the International WaterCentre, Australia.