President Tobin Shares Thoughts as Term Ends

  • by Pamela Tobin
  • Dec 15, 2023
  • Voices on Water

To All ACWA Members, 

I would like to begin by saying that it has been a great privilege to have been given the opportunity to serve as your President of ACWA.  Looking back over the past 24 months as your President, it has been an exceptionally busy two years. We have had to deal with a rapid succession of important events and situations, many of which are still unfolding. Indeed, for me personally, it has been a most eventful period that was at times challenging, but overall a most rewarding experience.

It is not my intention to list out all that we have accomplished. I believe they speak for themselves. But rather, I would like to take this opportunity to briefly offer some of my impressions on how things have fared in the work of ACWA.

What comes to mind, first and foremost, is the strong and active engagement of ACWA in advancing advocacy, promotion and protection of ACWA members. In the face of crisis situations, ACWA has shown that, whenever there is a unity of purpose and striving for consensus, we have the capacity to act and address these situations in a timely and constructive manner. But still, we need to do more.

We need to ensure that the common resolve we work toward is followed up with concrete actions, to produce meaningful impacts for our members and make a difference in the lives of agencies and their customers who they need to protect. 

I have witnessed a strong and active engagement within the ACWA family, through the intensification of consultation and consensus building, as evident in the increasing number of cross regional issues and initiatives. I have no doubt that the building of bridges and the forging of common ground and engagement of all partners, including NGOs, will determine, to a significant extent, how successful we are in carrying out what has been entrusted upon ACWA.

But ACWA will always have to deal with different perceptions of water issues and water rights. Discourse on water issues cannot avoid the different political, economic, social and cultural context in which they occur. Therefore, recognizing our diversity and having mutual respect for different views and opinions needs to be at the heart of the constructive dialogue and cooperation that we seek to promote within ACWA.

Reflecting back, I have also asked myself what I could have done better. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish that we could have spent more time concentrating on the main issues, rather than the procedural ones which bogged us down for a considerable amount of time. The exercise of the review itself and the frank and open discussions we had on all the key issues have proven to be a worthwhile undertaking, and I believe have helped us to recognize the need to constantly strive for improvement in the work and functioning of ACWA.

My hope for the future is that we do better in terms of making ACWA more effective and efficient. I firmly believe that with engagement and resolve on the part of all of us — members, observers and stakeholders — the answer is indeed, yes we can. 

Let me conclude with a note of thanks. 

I would like to express my debt of gratitude to the leadership and members of ACWA, the ACWA Board of Directors, the Regions 1-10 Chairs and Vice Chairs, and the various Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs. Also, to all ACWA members who participated in task forces and work groups, thank you for the great teamwork and for your invaluable support and advice throughout the process. 

My appreciation and pride also go to the ACWA staff, whose efforts day in and day out have kept the wheel running smoothly and advocated non-stop for all ACWA members. You are the backbone that allows ACWA to excel.

It has been my privilege and honor to have worked closely with all of you throughout my term.  I hope that I have served you well.  Thank you.

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