Young delegates from across Europe made a collective commitment to take action for water in a conflict-prone world this October. The 14th European Youth Parliament for Water brought 70 delegates from 14 countries together for a week of discussion and action, culminating in the adoption of a final collective commitment. The event took place from October 1-7 in Rovereto, Italy, on the theme of Water and Peace.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all humans have a right to access water. This is a starting point for the text, which embodies the hope and vital energy that youth can bring to political processes. In a solemn ceremony in the shadow of the Campana dei Caduti (Peace Bell) of Rovereto, the document was presented to Solidarity Water Europe President Antonella Cagnolati, and to local and European officials.
“This collective commitment is an expression of the will of youth, who need a seat at the table with decision makers,” said Cagnolati. “We look forward to the projects we will see in the future when these young leaders return to their home countries.”
Through discussions, workshops and field visits accompanied by international experts, delegates explored the issue of water as a driver of global conflict. They also learned concrete strategies to find peace through cooperation, communicate effectively about their projects, and make concrete change.
The Parliament, in its 14th edition since 1998, was initiated and organized by Solidarity Water Europe, the Strasbourg, France-based water NGO with a long history of water actions around the world. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Agence de l’eau Artois-Picardie in France are founding partners of the Parliaments. Local co-organizers were the Fondazione Opera Campana dei Caduti and the Municipality of Rovereto.
Delegates selected a committee from among their peers to produce the Collective Commitment. The document calls for decision makers to increase water education and cooperation between countries that share common water resources. It also commits to a social media campaign on water and peace. Victor Macé of France was elected president of the 14th Parliament. Arvesa Llolluni and Ellen Vervaeke are vice presidents.
Attendees came from 15 European countries, including France, Italy, Kosovo, Russia, Armenia, Latvia, Malta and Turkey, and from Morocco.
The European Youth Parliaments for Water are an initiative of #WaterGeneration, the ISW-SWE’s youth strategy. They are part of Connected Youth, a series of initiatives that provide mentorship, advocacy and support to young water leaders.
The next European Youth Parliament for Water will be held in 2018.