With an aim to offer a platform to exchange ideas and offer solutions for water challenges in rural and indigenous communities in Canada and across the globe, the students of the University of Alberta in partnership with IC-IMPACTS, Alberta Innovates, and the Faculty of Science of the University of Alberta organized a two-day workshop in Edmonton, Canada on July 24-25, 2017. The unique part of this conference was that it was led by students throughout the entire process, from writing grant applications to inviting resource persons and managing all logistics.
The workshop brought around 60 participants from diverse fields in water sector, and provided an interactive platform to learn, share, and communicate with each other. The highlight of the workshop was a full-day event dedicated to building entrepreneurship among young people in water sector as well as building global competencies focusing on commercialization opportunities. Thus, starting with idea generation and tackling questions of how to realise them, the conference proceeded with a focus on opportunities and challenges in building new business in water sector. Mr. Jerry Hanna, an award-winning entrepreneur and CEO/President of Clearflow Group Inc and Ms. Tamara Lockwood from LifeQuest Strategies facilitated the entrepreneurship sessions.
Among diverse thematic presentations on different water issues, Water Youth Network presented a global overview of youth involvement in water sector, highlighting current achievements and challenges. The aim of the presentation was to connect young students and professionals from western Canada to ongoing national and international processes led by different youth networks and organizations in the water sector, including Water Youth Network. A special focus was provided on promoting the YouKnoW! (Youth-driven Knowledge in Water) project, which provides an innovative, virtual space for collaboration among water practitioners.
The workshop was fruitful in connecting and promoting cooperation among water professionals from diverse sectors and age groups. Most importantly, it provided hands-on training on developing entrepreneurships that aims to solve water challenges in rural and indigenous communities, who are often outside the municipal water systems. As one of the workshop participants remarked, “I am happy that the students are not only volunteers and assistants but the lead organizers”. The conference also demonstrated that young people are an important part of the process and have gained trust from inter-governmental agencies and provincial corporations.