The Chair will be hosted specifically at the USM River
Engineering and Urban Drainage Research Centre (REDAC)
covering the period of 4 years.
With USM being selected for the water-related UNESCO Chair, the
University is poised to become the international hub for
education and research in sustainable water infrastructure.
USM will dominantly be serving Asia and the Pacific region,
addressing issues relating to the access to clean water
impacting over 663 million people.
SDG6 is the Sustainable Development Goal #6 established by the
United Nations (UN) in 2015 which concerns with issues on Clean
Water and Sanitation, with the mission statement to "Ensure
availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation
Selection for the “Chair” was done based on the proposal sent,
and which has been favourably evaluated by the Selection
Committee, as stated in the email from the UNESCO Chief (Section
of Higher Education), Peter Wells who is based in France.
REDAC, which is located at the USM Engineering Campus in Nibong
Tebal, is led by Professor Dr. Nor Azazi Zakaria, who is also
the Director of the Engineering Campus.
It has been involved in the research on Sustainable Urban
Stormwater Management since 1997 and was acknowledged as a HiCOE
(Higher Education Centre of Excellence) in 2014.
It is currently involved in collaborations on related projects
with various local and foreign partners from the public and
Commenting on the announcement, Nor Azazi said that it is a
privilege for USM and the country to be selected as the host for
the prestigious international chair, and that will surely spur
aggressive international collaboration towards water security
and sustainable water infrastructure not only for the country,
but also the world.
"Despite being deemed as a country with remarkable water
management, with 92% of the Malaysian population having access
to safely-managed water services and 82% to safely-managed
sanitation services, we are still at risk if this important
resource is not being managed responsibly.
"Water has long been a critical element to any civilization and
all living beings are rightfully entitled to it. Yet, we still
have marginalised groups which have been 'denied' access to
clean water and sanitation. By hosting this Chair, we hope to
lift the barrier and ensure greater access to it with no one
being left behind," he said.
He added that, with 1 in 9 of the world population lacking
access to it, there should be better monitoring and regulation
of safety and distribution measures, in order to ensure that
such a crisis would not lead to water stress in nations across
Additionally he said, currently out of 15% of the total water
harvest from the yearly rainfall (85% of the water is flowing
into the sea) in the country, 67% has been used for agricultural
area for food production and only 33% is being used as potable
water resource for industries and domestic.
The agreement between both parties was signed recently by the
USM Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dr. Faisal Rafiq Mahamd Adikan
and the UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay.
The Chair according to the agreement was established with the
general objective of contributing to the overall development
goals - social, economic and cultural development. More
specifically, the objectives are as follows:
To improve understanding of Ecohydraulics, and in this
regards upscale existing local approaches in Integrated
Sustainable Water Resource Management.
To share experience and best management practices on climate
risk management through lessons learnt from case studies in
the Asia and the Pacific region, including disaster risk
reduction and climate vulnerability assessment, and water
education among countries, in particular water management
To create a platform for collaboration and cooperation in
the Asia-Pacific region as well as other regions for the
establishment of strong and efficient Science Network to
support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda SDG 6
To improve the science-policy dialogue and develop a set of
recommendations or policies for an improved water security
in the country.
To build a strong regional Science Network to promote
interaction, training, knowledge sharing, joint
activities, and transformation agent to upscale the quality
of life in urban areas by providing sustainable water
To promote scientific researches and graduate studies in the
field of Water Resources Management for talent development.