From March 22 to 26, the World Youth Water Parliament (WYPW) held its 5th General Assembly (GA) – which has been labeled as a preparatory event “Road to Dakar 2022”. With 600 registered participants, 18 interactive sessions, 20 workshops and more than 30 partner organizations – including the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Artois Picardie Water Agency – the GA was a major step in strengthening the global youth movement for water and preparing for youth engagement at the World Water Forum in Dakar 2022 (Senegal).
Given the global situation, we chose a bi-modal format: a first part online, and a second part in person in Dakar in March 2022. During this 5th GA, hundreds of young people from all over the world were able to strengthen their knowledge on water and sanitation, develop new skills, expand their network and also prepare their advocacy to systematize their inclusion in the decision-making processes that concern them.
The 5th General Assembly was also the culmination of the electoral process initiated in January 2021, where a new presidency and regional focal points began a 3-year term.
Elections 2021 – Renewed leadership and board members
Prior to the 5th General Assembly, the presidency and the regional focal points (Africa, Asia, Europe, Americas) were renewed. Elected for three years (2021-2024) by their peers, these 6 young people have committed themselves to defend the fundamental principles of the World Youth Parliament for Water. Their task will be to strengthen the global youth water movement and expand its reach and influence. The 3 priorities of the WYPW Board for 2021-2023 will be to:
1- Promote the expansion of the network
2- Increase its capacity to influence
3- Strengthen the capacities of its members.
“I want to help open doors for young people around the world to help solve the multifaceted water issues facing our world. It will be an honor to serve as president of the World Youth Water Parliament for three years to strengthen our existing partnerships and create new ones as well.”
Carolina Tornesi MacKinnon, President of the World Youth Water Parliament (WYPW)
A full program and an inspiring week
The water sector is multi-stakeholder, with diverse issues such as access, sharing, management, governance, and protection of water resources. The programming of the General Assembly was therefore intended to be representative of this complexity and diversity.
Over the course of 18 interactive sessions with more than 100 panelists, participants were able to build knowledge, debate, and be inspired.
Participants gained new knowledge on global water governance with Josh Newton, built their confidence with Her2O, discuss regional water and peace priorities with the Geneva Water Hub, better understand the role of youth in global water quality challenges, and explore the ways in which NASA is addressing water resource management based on Earth observations.
Several sessions were organized by youth: Bota Sharipova and Nataliya Chemayeva presented the Blue Peace Index, youth from the Mediterranean Youth for Water Network presented youth perspectives from the MENA region, members of the EYPW discussed youth perspectives in public-private partnerships, and the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement and DrinkPani had the opportunity to present inspiring stories of youth taking concrete action in their communities.
Thematic priorities identified by the youth
During the week and during the exchanges, the young people were able to identify the thematic priorities that they would like to bring to the next World Water Forum and more broadly to their scale of action. These thematic priorities are articulated with the three axes of commitment of the network: Peace, Equity, Environment.
The 3 main priorities put forward are
- Establish intergenerational and cross-sectoral dialogues to ensure a world of blue peace.
- Ensure capacity building and confidence building of youth, especially young women vulnerable to water insecurity in a spirit of gender equality.
- The need to adequately equip youth to effectively fulfill their role as agents of change and decision partners.
5 working groups
In parallel to the interactive sessions, 5 working groups were formed to allow participants to actively engage during the GA.
During the week of the General Assembly, a detailed article was produced daily by the working group of rapporteurs. It is therefore possible to read a detailed report for each day on the WYPW website.
The online transition of the event went well: with the active engagement of participants, the web platform used provided an experience that matched the programming.
Marking the launch of the works, the opening ceremony counted on inspiring personalities, such as Simon Zbinden, head of the Global Water Program of the SDC or Abdoulaye Sene, Executive Secretary of the 9th World Water Forum, recalling the importance of youth engagement ahead of the WWF and the opportunity that the holding of the latter on African soil represents, while the youth constitute the majority of the African population.
The closing session celebrated the end of a busy and engaging week and opened up the future of youth involvement. Thierry Vatin, Director General of the Artois-Picardy Water Agency, emphasized that his agency is taking concrete action by reserving a seat for a young person on the Basin Committee. Lindsey Aldaco-Manner, in her final speech as president of the WYPW (2018-2021) encouraged the new generation to think deliberately about the messages they want to share with the world.
Both ceremonies can be viewed in full on the ISW YouTube channel.
Aware of the inequalities in access to a reliable internet connection, 17 connection grants were offered to enable young people from all regions of the world to actively participate in the 5th Virtual General Assembly.
Thank you to our partners
We would like to thank our partners who made the 5th General Assembly possible. The exchange of ideas, discussions, and debates as well as the relationships created will certainly allow the participants to make waves and multiply the impacts of the network.
A special thank you to the main partners, the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development, and the Agence de l’eau Artois-Picardie for their continuous support of the ISW-SWE youth actions, and their support as important allies of the global youth movement for water.