Summary of the Budapest Water Summit 2019

Convened for the third time, under the patronage H.E. Mr János Áder, President of Hungary, the Budapest Water Summit took place October 15-17th providing an opportunity for the water-sector to discuss the necessary institutional responses for “Preventing Water Crises” – the issues of too much, too little and too dirty water aggravated by the rise of climate-change.

Panels and sessions alike highlighted the need for good governance and improved cooperation in order to support a decentralized approach that could unlock investment for the benefit of all. Water was recognized as an instrument for peace during the high-level panels.

Raed Abu Al-Saud, Minister of Water and Irrigation, Jordan, portrayed the reality of living with water shortages and reiterated the need to promote water for peace to prevent water crises noting the value of education for young populations to influence water behavior towards preservation. However, several participants pointed out the low representation of women and youth on the panels – the principle of “nothing about us without us” requires integration at all levels.

Spirituality, cultural approaches, and empathy were raised on numerous occasions presenting a new approach to managing water resources sustainably for the next seven generations.

Youth-Inclusive Sessions

The International Secretariat for water had the opportunity to co-convene the only two youth-inclusive sessions in conjunction with the Global Water Partnership and the Global Water Partnership Central and Eastern Europe.

The potential role of youth in solving water crises

17 October | 11:30 – 13:00 | Budapest Water Summit Expo

Today, we have the largest number of young people the world has ever known. It is common to hear that ‘youth are our future’, but they are also present-day leaders. More than a vulnerable part of the population, particularly impacted by poverty and lack of opportunities, youth are also providers of solutions and change makers. Recognizing this, the following youth showcases were presented:

  • Kareem Hassan, BENAA & World Youth Parliament for Water
  • Nupur Jain, Water Youth Network
  • Yelisaveta Demydenko, Youth Water Community Central and Eastern Europe
  • Eszter Kun, Winner of Stockholm Junior Water Prize of Hungary

Eszter Kun, Winner of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize of Hungary speaking about educational aquaponics!

Ms. Monika Weber-Fahr Executive Secretary, Global Water Partnership moderated a panel discussion which explored the role of youth in solving water crises by examining the role of the education system, means of overcoming obstacles faced by youth, and planning for the next seven generations. Panelists included:

  • Tibor Bíró, Dean, Faculty of Water Sciences, National University of Public Services, Hungary
  • Péter Szűcs, Dean, Faculty of Earth Science and Engineering, University of Miskolc, Hungary
  • Miklós Patziger, Associate Professor, Budapest University of Technology and Economics
  • Ildikó Galambos, Director, Soós Ernő Water Technology Research and Development Center, Hungary
  • Elena Margineanu, Youth Water Community Central and Eastern Europe
  • Kareem Hassan, BENAA Foundation & World Youth Parliament for Water
  • Natalija Vojno, International Secretariat for Water – Solidarity Water Europe

Watch a portion of the live-recording produced by the Water Youth Network here.

ISW Youth Project Manager Natalija Vojno joins the panel exploring the potential role of youth in solving water crises speaking to tools such as the Youth for Water and Climate Platform and the Haudenosaunee principle of planning for the next seven generations.

The urgent need for an effective inter-generational dialogue

17 October |13:00 – 14:30 |Tisza Room

Convened by the Global Water Partnership Central and Eastern Europe (GWP-CEE), International Secretariat for Water (ISW) the session opened with a screening of the Imagine #BluePeace winning video “Water and Peace 2.0 Youth Outlook, 2019” by Nataliya Chemayeva. And was followed by a presentation from Geneva Water Hub’s Léna Salamé on the importance of including all in preventing water crisis with a focus on gender-inclusion.

The intergenerational dialogue, moderated by Gergana Majercakova, GWP CEE, featured young water leaders from Central and Eastern Europe who participated in the “Youth Voices – Policy Choices” national intergenerational dialogues convened by GWP-CEE. The initiative facilitates intergenerational dialogues between youth and decision-makers. Panelists shared outcomes including the enhanced capacity of the new generation of water leaders, trust-building, and opportunities created for youth and seniors to exchange ideas for better water resources management.

The panel explored the following themes:

  • Theme 1: Integrated Water Resources Management – Facilitating Youth Action
    • Balázs Heincz, Department for Water Diplomacy and the Danube Region Strategy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary
    • Yelysaveta Demydenko, Ukraine
    • Catalin Cimpianu, Romania
  • Theme 2: Inclusive Institutions – Including Youth Voices
    • Hélène Masliah-Gilkarov, International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR)
    • Zosia Pawlak, Poland
    • Dimitar Mihalkov, Bulgaria
  • Theme 3: Mainstreaming Youth-Led Solutions
    • Guy Bonvin, Swiss Special Envoy for Water in Central Asia, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)
    • Eva Kremere, Latvia
    • Istvan Gottlinger, Hungary

The inter-generational panel was followed by roundtables supported by the World Youth Parliament for Water and the Water Youth Network. In a short period of time participants exchanged on the opportunities for addressing water security challenges, implementing innovative technologies that connect “ALL”, and improving the understanding of integrated water resources management. With even more dedicated spaces for these intra-generational exchanges much could be accomplished!

Guy Bonvin, Swiss Special Envoy for Water in Central Asia speaks to the BluePeace movement, initiatives in Central Asia, collaborating with educational institutions and strategies for engaging youth early on.



World Youth Parliament for Water was highlighted by the Economist Intelligence Unit during the #BluePeaceIndex side-event for launching a Water Café at Oregon State University to calculate the Blue Peace Index of the Colorado River Basin across five pillars: Policy & legal frameworks; Institutional arrangements & participation, Water management instruments, Infrastructure & financing, and Cooperation.

First gathering of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace since 2017 report launch.


A response to the Budapest Appeal

The International Secretariat for Water (ISW) in conjunction with the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW), the Water Youth Network (WYN), and the Youth Water Community Central and Eastern Europe (YWCCEE) co-signed a letter addressed to the International Program and Drafting Committee of the Budapest Water Summit 2019 highlighting that the inclusion of youth perspectives builds resilience and enhances preparedness against the impact of future water-related challenges.

Young people will not only inherit the future outcomes of today’s policies, but they are already demonstrating leadership in an integrative approach to water management and a desire to engage in decision-making. For this reason, we implored the Committee to build upon past intergenerational cooperation and continue to include youth in the consensus-building vision for managing the looming water crises and building peaceful and sustainable societies.

The Budapest Water Summit 2013 and 2016 included civil society and youth perspectives. The messages and policy recommendations were exemplary of effective inter-generational dialogue towards advancing 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Not only do we need to build upon, but go beyond prior declarations, these need to be acted on. Action requires inter-generational cooperation – the exchange of ideas and tacit knowledge and a clear role for youth as partners in good water management.

We have more work to do!