by Prabin Rokaya, Student at UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Netherlands
“Youth need space! Youth need forum! Youth voice should be heard. Youth should be involved in decision making process!” These are the some of the most common arguments that we hear these days during youth conversations.
There is active youth participation in many high level conferences. But most of the time, they are seen with banners and slogans outside the main meeting hall. And in most of the cases, their voices are not heard or heard but not answered. This is mainly because they are more involved in campaigning than actually getting involved in decision making process. Youths have to sit on the table, discuss the issues and clearly put forward their ideas and views if they want to influence the decisions that are made today.
Fortunately, these days there is growing recognition of youth power. There was time when youths were considered responsibility and now is a time when youths have proved to be an opportunity. Senior leaders and decision makers have started believing in youth. Youths are known for their unity, creativity, network, innovation, commitment and compassion. And most importantly, there is a huge expectation from youths. So the big question is can youth live up to that expectation?
Amidst this expectations, Budapest Water Summit, one of high level Water Conferences in this International Year of Water Cooperation will take place from October 8-11, 2013 participated by UN Member States, competent UN agencies and bodies as well as all concerned economic and social partners. The Summit aims to formulate a concrete recommendation for the UN General Assembly for setting the post-2015 development agenda, and Youth Forum will be an important part of the Summit.
Youth have been offered an important place at the Summit, with its own forum, next to civil society and scientists. Youth Forum is expected to provide a space for future decision-makers to develop, collect and exchange ideas and opinions during the Budapest Water Summit as well as to engage in the longer-term process involved in outlining the Budapest Recommendations. The youth statement is an opportunity to gather youth voices from all around the world in order to define what the priorities in the sector are, according to youth, and how youth can act on it.
Therefore, it a great and rare opportunity for youths interested in water sector to mark their future priorities as well as influence present decisions. There has been enough youth declaration, statements and call for actions; hence, Budapest is a forum to design and develop concrete and specific actions that youth can practically contribute for global water security.
Due to financial constraints, limited youths might be able to join the forum at Budapest; however, the forum aims to provide other means of involvement for global youths to contribute. Youths globally can contribute their specific ideas and feedback to the statement which will be released online at the last week of August. Similarly, they can also follow up the updates and keep on sharing their ideas and views through social networks (facebook, twitter and website) of Water Youth Network before and during the forum. It is an opportunity not to be missed. It is an opportunity to really make the difference.