By Philip Kruse
In late November I was invited to participate in the World Water Council’s 8th General Assembly in Marseille, France. These occur once every three years – always at the end of the year when the World Water Forum takes place. With this year’s World Water Forum in Brasilia, Brazil, being my first water-related event of the year, it was rather fitting that 2018 would end with this event.
The World Water Council is an international multi-stakeholder platform bringing together actors in the water-sector from the public and private realms, academia, and civil society. Its mission is to raise awareness, build commitment, and ignite actions to tackle global water issues on all levels. Members include organizations such as UNESCO, Global Water Partnership, Veolia, Women for Water Partnership, the World Bank Group, the International Water Association, and the list continues.
In the years leading up to the 8th World Water Forum back in March, the Youth Delegates Programme was established with the support of UNESCO, Action Contre la Faime, and the World Water Council’s secretariat. In this programme, there is a youth representative for each region of the world, that is, Africa and the Middle East, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe. The task of this group of four young people is to engage youth in the processes of the World Water Forum and bring the young people’s voice into the discussion of the Council’s task forces and when the Board of Governors – the executive body of the Council – meets. Among the first generation of Youth Delegates was the Water Youth Network’s very own Tatiana dos Santos Silva. Their term just ended at the World Water Council’s General Assembly, so a new batch of Youth Delegates had to be found.
In the months before a selection process had been conducted in which I applied to represent Europe. To some surprise, I learned that my application was successful and a couple of weeks later I traveled to Marseille. There I had the opportunity to meet my fellow Youth Delegates and to reach out to the representatives from the different member organizations of the World Water Council during the plenary at day and receptions at night. There was also a follow up on the outcomes of the 8th World Water Forum and an update on the preparations for the next. The Council also elected a new Board of Governors, which then voted on who should head the organization as its president. The new president, Loïc Fauchon, stressed the importance of youth for the World Water Council’s work in a pledge to further empower them during his speech opening the second day of the General Assembly. Afterward, however, there was the most important point on the agenda – at least from the new youth delegates’ perspective. After our selection had been approved by the Council’s executive body, we had to be confirmed by the gathered members – which happened in a unanimous vote.
This weekend in France was only the start for an exciting journey ahead of us, the new Youth Delegates of the World Water Council for the next three years. Together with Marieme from Senegal (Africa and the Middle East), Karishma from India (Asia and the Pacific), who is also a member of the Water Youth Network, and Franklyn from Peru (Americas), I will be working to engage youth on the road to Dakar, where the next World Water Forum is set to take place in 2021, and to make the voice and priorities of us young people heard.
Here is to a triennium ahead of us in which youth inclusion in hydropolitics continues to strive. The World Water Council’s motto is ‘Together we make water a global priority,’ let us work together to make sure that youth priorities play a major role in this!