Valuing Water: WYN participation inside the Under30 Changemakers Summit in NY

By Donya Danesh 

I was asked to facilitate a session on Valuing Water and Climate Change mitigation with young social entrepreneurs at the Under 30 Changemakers Summit in NYC. I’m in the last year of my PhD and have studied long-term climate impacts on freshwater for the whole of my academic career, so I was really eager to hear from young professionals in the field of social entrepreneurship (a field that I do not have much contact with). What an energizing, enlightening, and motivating experience it was to speak with such passionate young change makers!!!!

I was so pleasantly surprised at the level of commitment to connecting and collaborating with other organisations that have similar values and goals. I must say that my motto since the early stages of my career has always been that the only way forward in tackling water related challenges is through multi- and interdisciplinary collaborations, because water challenges are complex and require collaborative solutions. On that note, it was an utmost pleasure and truly amazing experience being able to host a session with the World Youth Parliament on Water (WYPW). It is so nice to see so many young professionals collaborating at such early stages in their careers and seeing the value of working together to reach out to other young professionals.

For me, the main takeaway from this session was the importance of asking youth questions like “how do YOU value water” and then giving them the space, time and facilitation to explore this question. In 2 hours, we opened the eyes of many talented young professionals, so sessions like this do provide value in helping challenge peoples perspectives and have them to ask themselves simple, yet critical questions, which can leave to long-term change (especially with social entrepreneurs who can come up with ideas, technologies, etc). After this experience I believe that its truly valuable to move into other fields and connect with entrepreneurs, because they have ideas, so let’s plant seeds and then give them the water to grow!

Takeaways from the session:

  • Many do not think about valuing water, unless the topic is highlighted and given space to discuss.
  • Most often, water is taken for granted, until situations of scarcity occur.
  • Once this topic is raised, all are eager to further reflect on it.
  • Sharing different experiences help support learning and reflecting on the value of water.
  • Everyone needs access to water. There is a big role for the government to ensure access to clean drinking water. The private sector can play a role, but the aims for profit (valuing water to high), can be problematic. Trust and transparency are keys to good water management, and help people to value water.
  • It is important to spread the culture of youth empowering youth – not just to young professionals in the water sector, but to young professionals in all sectors, in order to support good examples to be more widely shared and repeated.


By Donya Danesh (

Coordinator of the Young Professionals Programme of the Amsterdam International Water Week (, PhD candidate (Queen’s University, Canada)