Looking forward and beyond Asia-Pacific Youth Parliament on Water – Part 1

By Prabin Rokaya, Asia Pacific Youth Parliament on Water

On June 03, 2013, officially Asia-Pacific Youth Parliament on Water (http://www.apypw.org/web/index) kicked off. The meeting aims to provide opportunities to young people to debate and discuss global water issues and present the final outcomes to the National Assembly in Seoul to eventually make an impact to the decision that are made today.

Mr Jung-moo Lee, President of Korea Water Forum (http://www.koreawaterforum.org/) gave the opening speech followed by a welcome speech from Prof. Seung-il Choi, Vice-President of Korea University. Both of the speakers highlighted the important role, today’s youth can play for sustainable future, and especially for better water management. Then Mr Jonk-keuk, Oh, General Director of Ministry of Environment, Republic of Korea shared the words of encouragement to the Parliamentarian Members.

After short welcome, Dr Gil-Hong Kim, Director, Sustainable Infrastructure Division of Asian Development Bank gave a key note lecture on “Water Challenges and Empowering the Youth”. Dr Kim did not only highlight the works done by ADB on improvement of water and sanitation status in Asia but also opined that young people with their innovative thinking approach, social media and global network, can really make difference in achieving these water goals. He also mentioned that ADB has a fund for research and pilot study for young people, and also called for innovative ideas.

Then, Dr Kyung Taek Yum, Secretary General of Korea Water Forum shared the important information related to 7th World Water Forum (http://worldwaterforum7.org/EN). He also highlighted how the Forum is encouraging and ensuring youth’s participation through different conferences, meetings and networking. Following him, Mr ilgyo Seo, Speaker of the 1st APYPW shared his experiences from first APYPW. He also mentioned how the participation at first conference opened his door to international forums and decision making processes and encouraged everyone to actively participate and network.

Then the official opening ceremony was formally closed and thematic sessions were started. There are four Commission on the parliament based on four themes. They are Climate Change and Water Storage/Disasters; Integrated Water Resource Management/Ecosystems; and Rivers: Cities and Urbanization / Sanitation, Waste water and RE – Use; and Governance / Policy, Legislation & Institution / Trans-boundary Cooperation.

After brief introduction on different themes by relevant experts, Commission tasks were explained followed by election for Chair and Vice-Chair of Commissions who would facilitate the whole thematic session discussions and also coordinate in preparation of declaration. Shortly, welcome reception was provided, followed by Commission sessions where each delegation shared the water related problem of their respective countries based on their themes. It was quite interesting to see so much energy in young people working so hard till late night. I am quite looking forward for tomorrow field visits and commission sessions.

Part 1

Next Monday, 1 June, I will be flying more than 12 hours to Seoul. Republic of Korea/Ministry of Environment, Korean Water Forum and Korean National Assembly Environment Forum are jointly hosting the Asia-Pacific Youth Parliament on Water (APYPW) from 3 to 6 July, 2013.  The aim of the meeting is to provide opportunities to young people to debate and discuss global water issues and present the final outcomes to the National Assembly in Seoul to eventually make an impact to the decision that are made today. Interestingly, the APYPW is being held in same country that will host 2015 World Water Forum.

Being a student of Water management and working some years in water sector of Nepal, I am really looking forward to this event. I will be working on one of the four commissions, Commission 1, ‘Climate Change and Water Storage/Disaster’ and will be representing Kyrgyzstan in the particular issues of my interest.

As a part of the preparations for the APYPW, we have already comprehended local and regional water issues and prepared a regional paper beforehand for effective discussion in commission sessions. I really liked the idea that all the parliamentarian members are doing local research to know the status and achievements of these local water sectors, not only of their own countries but also of one of the other Asia-Pacific nations. This preparation, together with the classes I followed on Climate Change impact on water resources and flood risk management really gives adequate information for meaningful and in-depth discussions during the sessions.

These days we youths often claim for change. In fact we want changes overnight. A bunch of youths are seen with protest cards and slogan everywhere outside an important meeting. But in this process of advocacy, we often forget the basic thing; We also need to actively participate in dialogues and discussions with decisions makers, and clearly present our view points. We have to be part of the process that will shape our future. I am very hopeful that in APYPW, parliamentarian members will come up with clear solutions and action plans, which are more than just a piece of declaration. Parliamentarian Members in the end will be provided an important opportunity to present their voice to National Assembly of Republic of Korea and this is the point where they can make difference. I am really looking forward to it.

Prabin Rokaya

Student at UNESCO-IHE, from Nepal