GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub Assembly (Autumn) 2019 was held from 23rd to 26th September 2019 at Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour, Nusajaya, Johor. This Hub Assembly was co-organized by the Centre for Environmental Sustainability (IPASA), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia and Newcastle University from United Kingdom.

A total of 78 participants from United Kingdom, India, Ethiopia, Colombia and Malaysia had gathered at this annual Hub Assembly with the aim to finalise the Work Stream plans for the coming 12 months of the GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub (the Hub), with outline plans to the mid-term of the programme, and impacts around the Work Stream activities. Furthermore, the purpose of this Hub Assembly was to gain an understanding of the specific water security context in Malaysia and how the Hub can work together to address these issues. At the same time, through this Hub Assembly, not only partnerships across the Hub can be refreshed and re-energised, formation of new connections particularly among the Early Career Researchers (ECRs) and other stakeholders can be facilitated as well.

The Hub Assembly lasted for four days, where one of the days was specifically reserved for field trip, while the remaining three days the participants spent the entire day at the hotel. On the first day of the Hub Assembly, collaboratories (Malaysia, India, Colombia and Ethiopia) took turns to present their study and inputs respectively. Prof. Dr. Zaini Ujang, former Secretary General of Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water, and Mr. Mohd Riduan Md Ali, Director to Johor Water Regulatory Body (BAKAJ) were invited as keynote speakers to share their experiences on water management and tackling water issues in Johor and Malaysia.

Nonetheless, the main activity conducted throughout the Hub Assembly was breakout group discussions, where the participants were assigned into different group accordingly. A chairperson was in-placed in each respective group to take lead and steer the directions of the discussions. The theme of the discussions varied throughout the four days of the Hub Assembly, from Work Streams (i.e.: Risk, Value and Governance) to cross-cutting themes (i.e.: Gamification, Health, Water Quality, Citizen Science and Education, Monocrops etc.). Drop-in surgery on MEL (Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning), Base camp and Financial Management were organized as well, specifically for the professional services team to communicate across the Hub. Aside from that, a discussion specifically for the Early Career Researchers (ECRs) was conducted to formulate and facilitate new partnerships across the Hub, identifying future events or collaborations that the ECRs are interested to participate in.

As mentioned previously, a field trip at Sg. Johor was specially organized for the participants of the Hub Assembly. The participants gathered at the hotel early in the morning, and then departed to Tun Sri Lanang Jetty at Kota Tinggi. The participants went on the Sg. Johor Kembara River Tour, experiencing the nature and biodiversity along the riverbank of Sg. Johor. The participants had the opportunity to understand and experience the cultural heritage of Kg. Johor Lama as well. After a great lunch at the Community Hall of Kg. Johor Lama, the participants were divided into two groups. One group proceeded to Museum Johor Lama, while the other group went to Teluk Sengat Crocodile Farm. Nevertheless, the field trip ended at 4.30pm, with all participants safely returned to hotel.

To sum up, the Hub Assembly was a great success. Every participant had a better understanding of the Hub’s goal and direction for the coming 12 months, while partnerships established across the Hub was re-energised and remains strong. They had enjoyed the stay in Malaysia, and looked forward for the upcoming Hub Assembly at Ethiopia in February 2020. And also, to know more about what is GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub, please feel free to drop by our website: https://www.watersecurityhub.org.

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