Projects – Natural Sciences

Science Harnessed for ASEAN Regional Policy – SHARP

Responding to the ASEAN needs, the project develops strategies to protect the environment and the sustainable use and management of natural resources essential to the long-term economic growth and social development of ASEAN member states. It is aligned with the ASEAN-UNESCO Framework Agreement of Cooperation (FAC) and associated Indicative Joint Programme of Action (2014-2018) and UNESCO Regional Bureau’s Science Support Strategy: Meeting Society’s Needs with Science-based Solutions. “Environmental Sustainability” is one of the seven priority areas in the ASEAN – UNESCO FAC which builds upon the ASEAN Vision 2020, calling for “a clean and green ASEAN”, with fully established mechanisms to ensure the protection of the environment, sustainability of natural resources, and high quality of life for people in the region.

This component provides policy basis for future cooperation on environmental sustainability among ASEAN countries and UNESCO’s network as well for developing stronger links between science and society by the following activities:

  • ASEAN-UNESCO Environmental Sustainability Committee meeting to develop strategies for policy paper
  • ASEAN-UNESCO workshop on science-policy-society interface to develop policy paper and strategy to introduce it to the next ASEAN Plan of Action on Science and Technology 2016-2020
  • Introduction of policy paper on science-policy-society interface to the ASEAN Plan of Action on Science and Technology – Implementation Framework 2016-2020

Component 2: Establishment of Environmental Sustainability Demonstration Pilot Projects

UNESCO demonstrates innovative science, best management practice and participatory process by closely engaging with Malaysian and ASEAN universities, research institutes and other governmental institutions. It will develop and establish three pilot projects in Cambodia, Malaysia and Philippines as follows:

  • Demonstration site on “Restoring and Enhancing Angkor World Heritage Site by Improving Water Management at Siem Reap City and Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve” in Cambodia
  • Demonstration site on “Water and Environmental Sustainability Education Linked with Ecotourism in Langkawi Geopark” in Malaysia
  • Demonstration site on “Enhancing Resilience to Disasters of Urban Water Systems of Mindanao” in Philippines

Component 3: Establishment and Promotion of Environmental Sustainability ICT Knowledge Platform for Science-Society-Policy Interface

This component develops frameworks and techniques that can manage natural resources management in a more integrated package by:

  • Conducting needs assessment for environmental sustainability knowledge platform consisting of knowledge management system, e-learning courses through the COMPETENCE;
  • Developing ASEAN – UNESCO environmental sustainability knowledge platform using ICT based on the needs assessment;
  • Organizing workshop to launch the ASEAN – UNESCO environmental sustainability knowledge platform; and
  • Establishing partnerships between environmental sustainability research projects and regional communities in ASEAN countries.

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Key ActivitiesNews

The main achievements from the project can be summarised as follows:

  1. Developed a regional knowledge platform to disseminate the project results to ASEAN member states and other stakeholders, and encourage the relevant stakeholders to own and manage the research outputs for further integration with their own local programme of activities
  2. Developed a Science-Policy-Society Interface policy paper to apply sustainability frameworks and also set in place a process that allows this to continue beyond the life of the project;
  3. Demonstrated the Sustainability Science approach across three demonstration projects by working closely with expert researchers from natural and social science, utilizing existing UNESCO networks (i.e. International Hydrological Programme (IHP), Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme (IGGP)) as well as ASEAN communities, and ensuring the relevant government authorities received the research outputs of this project.
  4. Developed a synthesis of best practices and future directions for sustainability science implementation, based on the findings of the demonstration projects, as way forward for ASEAN.
  5. Liaised extensively with governments, regional professional bodies, industry associations and regional communities to secure and integrate programme outputs that meet research needs and outcomes;
  6. Encouraged where necessary appropriate business arrangements between Sustainability Science research and regional communities to facilitate positive change for a more resilient environment, prosperous livelihoods and better futures;
  7. Assisted selected local communities to build their capacity to move to a sustainable and resilient future utilizing sustainability frameworks.


South-South Cooperation for Enhancing Science, Engineering and Technology Standards in Asia and the Pacific

Responding to the needs for interdisciplinary expertise in areas of applied sciences as well as strengthening learning in the basic sciences, the project is implemented within the science and engineering human resource developmental and research institutions addressing both traditional, formal ways of teaching and learning science and technology. The modular curricula will be on varying levels and topics and adapted to a virtual (e‐learning) mode of delivery. Specifically, the project is implemented under three components:

Component 1: Meta-knowledge platform in making available tools and resources for engineering, science and technology human resource development for sustainable development

The regional and international workshops were organized to raise the standard of engineering qualifications to international standards in universities and institutions of tertiary education in association with the engineering bodies through south-south cooperation. This component involves regional stakeholders from diverse backgrounds with government agencies and units, industries, academia and research institutes.

Component 2: Modular curricula that could be adopted by professional bodies and universities for certified training of professionals

UNESCO has developed a roadmap on engineering qualification standardization in Asia and the Pacific. The Federation of Engineering Institutions of Asia and the Pacific (FEIAP) Engineering Education Guidelines are being updated jointly though this project.

Component 3: Mapping of UNESCO centres and chairs for establishing south-south learning alliances

The component is for mapping and networking of UNESCO’s Natural Sciences related Category 2 Centres and Chairs in Asia-Pacific region, linking with Africa on issues related to the post-2015 development agenda.

Key ActivitiesNews

The main achievements from the project can be summarised as follows:

A meta-knowledge platform in making available tools and resources for engineering, science and technology human resource development for sustainable development through Connect-Asia;

  • A dedicated page providing information about the different engineering institutions involved in the project has been developed under the mucp-mfit website.

Modular curricula that could be adopted by professional bodies and universities for certified training of professionals

  • UNESCO had identified pilot countries to standardize engineering qualification including Myanmar, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Timor-Leste in Asia and the Pacific region and Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania in Africa.
  • A modular curricular was developed. This has raised interests from various countries to join the FEIAP accreditation system (i.e. Tajikistan, Nigeria). While, Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) became the 1st economy in the Asia Pacific region under the FEIAP Accreditation System.
  • A number of workshops were conducted including in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tajikistan between 2015 and 2017. UNESCO also recently co-hosted a Regional workshop on “South-South Cooperation for Strengthening Engineering Standards and Mobility of Professionals” to support the Engineering Qualification, Standardization guidelines of FEIAP and Promotion of South-South Cooperation for Future Sustainable Asia and the Pacific region. Over 60 participants from Azerbaijan, China, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste and United Kingdom attended this workshop.
  • As a follow-up to the Regional Workshop, UNESCO and the Institute of Engineers Indonesia (PII) organized a National Workshop on Professional Engineering Standard Review and its implication to Accreditation and Qualification in accordance with Indonesian Engineering Act No 11/2014 on 27 March 2018 in Jakarta. A total of 70 participants (10% women) comprising of members of PII representing different discipline of the engineering chapters, quality assurance body, engineering service council, professional certification body, accreditation body and PII Board of Executive attended the workshop. Recommendations from the workshop will be submitted officially to the Indonesian Engineering Council (Dewan Insinyur Indonesia) and the Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education.
  • While the National Engineering Workshop on Timor-Leste’s Strategic Plan toward FEIAP Engineering Standardizations, Accreditation and Qualification was held in Dili, Timor-Leste from 26 to 27 March 2018. The workshop gathered 115 participants on the 1st day and 85 participants on the 2nd day. Some key highlights from the discussions, amongst others, were internship, mobility of engineers, accreditation and standardization.
  • Prior to that UNESCO, FEIAP and ISTIC jointly organize the Workshop on Accreditation of Engineering Education Qualification to International Standards and Mobility of Engineers and Technologists in Asia and the Pacific” on 27 May 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It brought together 35 key international experts (of which nine were women) from Institution of Engineers, Papua New Guinea (IEPNG); Myanmar Engineering Society (MES); PEC; the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES); China Association of Science of Technology (CAST); Engineers Australia (EA); Institution of Engineers, Mauritius (IEM); Institution of Engineers, India (IEI); Nigeria Engineers Society; Institution of Engineers Bangladesh; FEIAP; Institution of Engineers Indonesia (PII); Philippines Technological Council (PTC); Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT); Institution of Engineers, Fiji; the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE); Engineers Registration Board, Tanzania and a number of universities and academic engineering institutions from Malaysia.

Mapping of UNESCO Centres and Chairs for establishing South-South alliances

  • In order to enhance technical capacity of UNESCO science related Centres and Chairs in Asia and the Pacific region, UNESCO and its partners organized a UNESCO Natural Science related Centres and Chairs Regional Workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 26 to 27 May 2015, bringing together representatives from UNESCO Natural Science related Centres and Chairs in Asia and the Pacific and Africa.
  • As a follow-up to the above initiative, UNESCO co-organized with River Engineering and Urban Drainage Research Centre (REDAC), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) a Regional Workshop of UNESCO Natural Sciences related Centres and Chairs in Asia and the Pacific, Strengthening Interaction and Knowledge Exchange between UNESCO Natural Sciences related Centres and Chairs in Asia and the Pacific to promote South-South Cooperation in Penang, Malaysia from 29-30 November 2017. The aim was to strengthen South-South cooperation between Natural Sciences Category-2 Centres and Chairs in the Asia-Pacific region as well as other region bringing together around 60 participants, including international scientists as well as NATCOMs from the Asia Pacific and African region.

Upscaling Water Security to Meet Local, Regional and Global Challenges

Photo courtesy of Perbadanan Putrajaya






The project provides solutions to the current global water challenges requiring upscaling of existing local approaches and knowledge of the interrelations between environment conditions and the state of waters. UNESCO’s International Hydrological Program’s Ecohydrology Demonstration Projects and Hydrology for Environment, Life and Policy (HELP) river basins networks are two innovative approaches, which involve engineering-based tools that integrate basin-wide human activities and changes in the hydrological cycle.

The project strengthens the local scientific collaboration between Humid Tropics Centre Kuala Lumpur (HTCKL) and Institute for Environment and Development (LESTARI) as well as regional collaboration with Asia Pacific Ecohydrology in Indonesia as the Category II Water Centre, the Regional Centre for Integrated Water resources Management (RC-IRBM) Kaduna, Nigeria and Capital National University Beijing, China through the UNESCO Chair on Ecohydrology and Hydroinformatics.

  • Under this network, this project is being implemented through three components:Demonstration sites of Ecohydrology biotechnologies in Langat River and Putrajaya Lakes (Research Component)
    This component provides more efficient and sustainable storm water management strategies and best practices and mitigation measures to counter negative effects of urbanization. The study includes rehabilitation works for the slope degradation of riverbank to improve the river water quality, quantity and riverbank rehabilitation in developed areas depending on constructed wetlands, porous pavements as well as bio retention solutions. To support this, an assessment has to be conducted to determine the economic values of the ecosystem in order to strengthen the sustainable management.
  • HELP and Ecohydrology training (Education Component)
    The main purpose of this component is to develop modular curricular for IWRM and Ecohydrology in Asia-Pacific and Africa related to watershed management including river basin, lake and wetland and science curricular based on UN-Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. The modular curricula will be customized based on the IWRM Guidelines for River Basin management for training of watershed managers.
  • Workshops on comparative studies of applying water footprints, Ecohydrology and IWRM in Asia and Africa through UNESCO category-2 water centres in Asia and Africa (Water Management Component)
    The workshop promotes Ecohydrology as a cost-efficient technological approach for IWRM and introduces the concept of water footprint assessment and its methodology. To further promote south-south-north cooperation, this activity will link category II centres and category I centre in Asia and Africa into a collaborative platform on Ecohydrology and IWRM.

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Key ActivitiesNews

The main achievements from the project can be summarised as follows:

  • Research Component: Demonstration of ecohydrology biotechnologies

This component was delivered by Perbadanan Putrajaya (Putrajaya Corporation) and its partners focussing on the ecosystem services economic assessment of Putrajaya Lake and Wetland. This economic assessment has enabled the understanding and will help to resolve the delicate balance of water for livelihoods and water for maintaining the resource base. Another key component of this project is the dissemination of the findings of the research on ecosystem services economic assessment at the International Seminar on Lake and Wetland Management from 19 to 20 January 2016. Jointly organized by UNESCO Jakarta and Perbadanan Putrajaya, the seminar provided an outreach platform for stakeholders and other key players of lake and wetland management to understand the various types of ecosystem services. It has also brought together lake managers and other researchers from ASEAN countries such as Indonesia (Lake Rawa Pening), Philippines (Lake Lanao), and Thailand (Lake of Prince Songkla).

  • Education Component: HELP and ecohydrology scoping

The Humid Tropic Centre Kuala Lumpur (HTCKL), a category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO has been selected to lead this component in collaboration with a consortium of universities in Malaysia. The water management curricula provide the necessary teaching materials on different areas of water management, for practitioners, trainers, students in the higher education. The curricula development involved 150 participants (53 women and 97 men) including LDC country (Ethiopia) through the 2016 Comparative Studies workshop. The curricula were launched in the workshop “Pathway towards Improved Water Education Curricula” to a total of 34 participants (15 female) from 8 countries (including 2 LDCs – Timor-Leste and Cambodia). The workshop concluded by reaffirming the commitment of all participants to promote the education curricula across the public sector and beyond.

  • Water Management Component: Workshops on comparative studies of applying water footprints, Ecohydrology and IWRM in Asia and Africa through UNESCO category-2 water centres in Asia and Africa

Under this component, a number of activities have been conducted. HTCKL has conducted a Study on “Customising IWRM at the River Basin Level” (both education and water management component), a Comparative Studies of Applying Ecohydrology and IWRM for Upscaling Water Security in Asia & Africa through UNESCO Category 2 Water Centres. The outcome of this study was shared at a workshop organized by HTCKL and its partners from 7 to 9 March 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Additionally, several workshops were organized to initiate water security platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration, including the Inter-Regional Workshop on South-South Cooperation for Upscaling Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Ecohydrology as Tools for Achieving Water security in Africa, on 24-26 January 2017, in Abuja, Nigeria; Building Resilience to Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability to Meet Water Security Challenges”, 10-11 July 2017, Langkawi, Malaysia and Training on Southeast Asian Water Footprint Course, from 24 to 26 February 2015.

The Research report “Upscaling Water Security to Meet Local, Regional and Global Challenges with regards to Africa” was completed in 2016.

Fostering Tsunami Preparedness, Response and Mitigation in the Indian Ocean Small Island Developing States and African Coast Countries

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO is leading a global effort to establish ocean-based tsunami warning systems as part of an overall multi-hazard disaster reduction strategy. With strong collaboration with Member States, other UN agencies and NGOs, the IOC Tsunami Unit is supporting the countries in assessing tsunami risk, implementing Tsunami Early Warning Systems (TEWS) and in educating communities at risk about preparedness measures. It operates through Regional Tsunami Warning Systems in all basins where SIDS are present. These regional warning systems are in operations in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, North East Atlantic/Mediterranean and Pacific.

Through strong scientific basis research and expertise that are applied in this project, as well as adaptation to the local context, the benefiting countries would be able to develop their Tsunami Disaster Management Plan (TDMP), transfer their knowledge to their people and to other SIDS and African Coast Countries that share similarities on their social, economic and demographic conditions.

The output from the project will provide a clear guideline for the relevant stakeholders of the Indian Ocean SIDS and the African coasts developing countries on end to end tsunami early warning system; Recommendation on how the country could and/or should foster their end to end TEWS and the knowledge and know-how for the country’s stakeholders of what they need to do to further develop, strengthen and sustain their end to end tsunami early warning system especially focusing on tsunami preparedness, response and mitigation.

There are three activities that will be implemented in this project, including: Indian Ocean end to end TEWS stock taking survey, Training/workshop on effective tsunami preparedness, response and mitigation (on the subjects Tsunami Risk Assessment, Tsunami Risk Reduction Policy and Action Plan, Standard Operating Procedures for Tsunami Early warning and Emergency Response, and Guideline for Tsunami Exercise).

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Key ActivitiesNews

The main achievements from the project can be summarised as follows:

  • Organized a Regional Training/Workshop on Coastal Hazard Assessment and Mitigation in Seychelles 7 – 11 March 2016 (This training was organized jointly with the support of UNESCO/IOC RP budget, ICG/IOTWMS secretariat, MFIT and the Government of Seychelles). The training was attended by 28 participants from 10 countries, (Comoros, Kenya, Le-Reunion, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, and Tanzania).
  • Organized several National Training on Standard Operating Procedures for Tsunami Early Warning and Response 1) in Mauritius 2) Seychelles
  • Organized several National Pre-IOWave16 Training/Workshop on Tsunami Awareness and Preparedness and Standard Operating Procedures for Tsunami Warning and Emergency Response in Tanzania as well as in Mozambique.
  • Produced and published the Education and Awareness Materials in English, French, Malay, Portuguese and Swahili.



Towards Economic Resilience in the Pacific and Southeast Asia: Reducing Risk of Loss & Damage in the Tourism and Agriculture Sectors from Extreme and Slow-Onset Events through Improved Assessment and Education

15The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Managing the risk of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation (CCA) (IPCC 2012) as well as recent disasters, such as Cyclone Evan in Samoa and Fiji in December 2012 all underscore the necessity to revisit and enhance knowledge and understanding on how to reduce and prevent the risk of loss and damage (L & D).

The project will provide a systematic and in-depth review and evaluation of best practices and lessons learned for reducing risk of L & D due to key drivers namely climate change and urbanization related trends. The project will develop and strengthen measures and priority DRR (e.g. risk assessments, Early Warning Systems (EWS), institutional capacities) and CCA tools for reducing climate change associated risk under different adaptation and development pathways.

The main expected results are:

  1. Improved understanding of loss and damage realities, experiences in the Pacific and Southeast Asia regions achieved;
  2. New knowledge and awareness of best practices, lessons learned; as well as innovative insights into how to strengthen the tools and methods for reducing risk of loss and damage generated;
  3. Capacity needs for reducing loss and damage in the agriculture and tourism sectors assessed;
  4. iv. Improved understanding, knowledge sharing and capacities to deal with reducing risk of loss and damage achieved. This also includes empowering climate change negotiators with new insights/information from loss and damage in the agriculture and tourism sectors from climate change.

Key ActivitiesNews

The main achievements from the project can be summarised as follows:

  • Launched an Inter-regional dialogue on L&D from climate extremes and Climate Change at the International Workshop on Sustainability Science for Sustainable Development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 4-5 March 2015. The panel discussion consisted of national experts from Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Malaysia. The dialogue session provided a platform to inform participants of experiences and lessons learned, best practices, challenges encountered as well as solution to this issue.
  • Organized an assessment workshop on loss and damage from climate change (the 1st and largest in the region) involving USP in-country experts and coordinators, as well as major stakeholders and partners including the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Pacific Community (SPC). One of the key results of the workshop was the preparation of a Tool Kit to assess loss and damage at community level. The workshop also provided an opportunity to raise interest in loss and damage to the other countries not currently covered in the MFIT project.
  • Organized a regional workshop to review the results and outputs of the project that is titled – “Towards economic resilience in the Pacific and Southeast Asia: Community-based loss and damage assessment for the tourism and agricultural sectors” in Vaitele, Samoa.
  • Launched the executive summary/brochure on “Towards Climate Change Resilience: minimizing loss and damage from change in Pacific SIDS” at CoP23 (November 2017), Bonn, Germany, along with country factsheets.



AP – FAST: Facility for Accelerating Science & Technology Knowledge Services for SDGs into National Development Plans in Asia and the Pacific

With the adoption of the new development Agenda 2030, the necessity for policy makers in Asia and the Pacific to follow the processes in relation to sustainability demands common efforts for management, a major aspect of which is integrated attention to economic and socio-cultural influences together with environmental issues.

To facilitate the integration of the new Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development into national development plans, AP-FAST focus especially on SDGs 5, 6, 11, 13, 14, 15, and 17. AP-FAST takes into account cross-cutting SDG 5 on gender equality and 17 on partnership. It especially corresponds to the SDG 17, as it is indeed an attempt to help foster a ‘global partnership for sustainable development’, specifically by meeting targets in ‘technology’ and ‘capacity-building’ enhancement. Gender dimension will be fully integrated into AP-FAST, by taking into consideration current and potential meaningful participation of women in STI related activities. AP-FAST sub-programmes will include all thematic areas under UNESCO Natural Sciences sector, including FAST-Water, FAST-Ecosystems, FAST-Climate, FAST-DRR, FAST-Innovation, FAST-Ocean, thus corresponding to SDGs 6, 11, 13, 14 and 15 as well.

In order to achieve this, this project will be implemented through the following components:

  • Organizing regional meetings on the implementation of SDGs, to analyse the incorporation of the targets of the SDGs into national development plans in Asia and the Pacific. One of the meeting will also serve as the official launching of the AP-FAST initiative in the region,
  • Identifying effective and inclusive means for the use of Science & Technology Knowledge for implementing a transformational development agenda at the national and regional levels in pilot countries; and
  • Defining an AP-FAST annual meeting model as the regional forum to discuss the processes and progress on the integration of SDGs in the national development plans in the region. 

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Key ActivitiesNews

During the implementation period, the project had conducted the following activities:

Organizing regional meetings on the implementation of SDGs, to analyse the incorporation of the targets of the SDGs into national development plans in Asia and the Pacific

  • Jointly organized an International Conference entitled “Asia Pacific Policy Dialogue on Water, Energy and Food Security for Poverty Alleviation in Dryland Regions” on 23-25 Nov 2016 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. It was a platform to discuss and explore new dimensions to increase water and food security and alleviate poverty in order to progress UN Agenda 2030 with particular emphasis on SDG Goals 1, 2, 6 and 7, linking also with SDG Goal 11 and 13. The conference focused on resource-deficient dryland regions worldwide with participation from Afghanistan, Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Subsequent panel discussions on nexus approaches for water, food, energy and livelihood, agricultural sustainability, as well as disaster management, lead to 26 recommendations in order to better deliver SDGs at the local, national and regional level.

Identifying effective and inclusive means for the use of Science & Technology Knowledge for implementing a transformational development agenda at the national and regional levels in pilot countries

  • Jointly organized a Regional Workshop on Accelerating Science and Technology to Foster the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific and Launching of AP-FAST in Dili, Timor-Leste, 7-9 June 2017.  Mr Stephen Kearney, Resident Coordinator a.i. and HE Ms. Dulce Soares, Vice Minister, Min of Education graced the event.
  • As follow up of the Regional Workshop on Accelerating Science and Technology to Foster the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific on 7-9 June 2017 in Hotel Timor, Dili, Timor-Leste. The project published the APFAST booklet as the proceeding of the workshop. The booklet illustrate the role of SETI in SDG and demonstrate the focus of SETI in APFAST in relation to SDG targets and Indicators as well as UNESCO focus. The proceeding also covers the example of Malaysia, the Philippines and Timor-Leste.
  • Jointly organized the National Dialogue on Water Security: Implementing Water Goals in Timor-Leste, 16 – 17 October 2017. The project also supported Timor-Leste to conduct the pilot in SDG 6 looking in the waste water management in Timor-Leste.
  • Another pilot will be conducted in Davao, the Philippines in 2018.