The role of Youth in Integrated Water Resource Management for the 21st century

By Natalija Milicevic & Akewak Yadeta Gobosho

The session opened with János Fehér, from the Hungarian chapter of the International Water Association, who provided a concise introduction to Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). According to Mr. Fehér balancing water for livelihood and water as a resource requires applying the three pillars of IWRM; economic efficiency, social equity, and environmental sustainability. Istaván Zsuffa from WETwin Project explained the valuable role of wetlands in WASH especially in providing regulatory services such as wastewater treatment. The President of the International Water Association, Glen Daigger succinctly stated the challenge of integrated water resource management as understanding complexity while seeing the underlying uncertainty. Mr. Daigger stressed taking action. This means not waiting for approval but applying our problem solving ideas and improving by fixing our mistakes.  During discussion, János Fehér encouraged youth to act critically and learn from the mistakes of previous generations.

blue passportIntergenerational dialogue is one of the key terms that emerged from this session in addition to the importance of youth inclusion in the decision making and training the next generation of water professionals. This was complemented by the introduction to the International Water Association’s Young Professionals Programme (IWA YWP). Elena Manea of the Romanian Chapter of the Young Water Professionals stressed how youth involvement can lead to innovations in water sharing and international cooperation. Innovation indeed! Benjamin Noury , the French representative of the World Youth Parliament talked of the importance of youth collaborating at the basin level but warned that cooperation is not possible if we do not take responsibility and feel belonging to the same water resource. This was the thought that has inspired him to create a visible water identity – the Blue Passport. Like Mr. Daigger said, youth should (and are) looking beyond the obvious.

So, we talked about the work that needs to be done to realize IWRM but the other side of the coin is fun, and that is exactly what Johan Oost from the World Water Academy balances. Mr. Oost introduced Weskills the fun and exciting opportunity for young professionals to exchange knowledge and learn from one another through workshops around the world. The next one will be in Amsterdam during World Water Week and as youth you’re invited to apply!