World Water Forum 7: A report from Bart de Vos – President of the WYPW

In Korea, this week a group of young people come together on the occasion of the WWF7 2nd Stakeholder Consultation Meeting to discuss how to organize youth participation in the World Water Forum. Over the last months, a small core team had prepared the first steps: Ponce Samaniego, ADB-Youth Representative; Min Woo Kim, Asia Pasific Youth Parliament for Water; Brian Seo, World Water Council Youth delegate; Bart Devos, World Youth Parliament for Water and Roos ter Horst, Water Youth Network.

To ensure that the demands of youth would be taken in account and that their ideas would be presented during the 2nd Stakeholder Consultation Meeting for the 7th World Water Forum, Korea Water Forum invited this group to attend the 2nd Stakeholder Consultation Meeting. To enable a good preparation, a youth workshop was organized on the day before the 2nd Stakeholders Consultation Meeting. Divers participants from Asian environmental youth organizations and Asian universities joined the meeting, bringing new perspectives.

A first clear result of these meetings is a general consensus on the establishment of an International Youth Steering Committee for World Water Forum 7. This International Youth Steering Committee is open to all interested organizations and individuals who want to contribute to the youth program of World Water Forum 7: in addition to maintaining this openness, we’ll also invest a lot of efforts in making this process inclusive, transparent, and participatory. A Core Team, in charge of coordinating the activities of the International Youth Steering Committee, will be validated consisting of the initiators of this group, as well as a youth network representing Latin American youth and one representing African youth. Representing youth organizations and individuals wishing to participate in and contribute to World Water Forum 7, the International Youth Steering Committee will bring the ideas and demand to the organizers of the Forum, thus preparing a smooth integration of youth in the overall Forum as well as its preparatory process. At the same time, it will be actively spreading information about the Forum to the worldwide youth and asking for their opinions and contributions.

At this stage, different proposals from the youth are already on the table. These include having a youth booth, young professionals panel, youth intervention at the WWF-sessions, a Water Messengers-campaign, etc.

The 2nd Stakeholder Consultation Meetings was a first major chance for youth to launch itself in the Forum preparation process. As reporters to the Plenary Session on the first day, our role was very much appreciated by all participants. By dividing ourselves among the different thematic roundtables, we could bring a young perspective to a big share of the discussions. On the 2nd day, the youth vision was presented during the Citizen’s Session by Brian Seo.

In the comings months, through different events we’ll prepare the youth program both at regional and international events. Importantly, Africa Water 2014 (June 2014) will be the occasion to prepare African youth and to formulate their message to the World Water Forum. In July, the 3rd Asia-Pacific Youth Parliament for Water (organized by Korea Water Forum) will take place. Singapore International Water Week (June 2014) and Stockholm Water Week (September 2014) are two overall milestones, since the International Youth Steering Committee is scheduled to convene at these events.

However, before traveling back home and start preparing these next steps, time to discover the city of Gyeongju and celebrate the birthday of our friend Min Woo Kim (president of 2nd Asia Pacific Youth Parliament for Water and member of IYSC)!

By: Bart de Vos (WYPW)