On 24th October 2022, leaders of the Global Youth Movement for Water participated in the stakeholder consultation on the preparation of the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, alongside an estimated 1200 other stakeholders from across the water arena, in person and online. Held at the UN Headquarters in New York, the stakeholder dialogue aimed at developing a set of game-changing ideas for policy makers to consider and implement. Leaders of the Global Youth Movement were present at this meeting to ensure youth had a vested stake in this dialogue.
The day of discussions was opened by Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary of the Conference of the UN Water 2023 Conference. Mr Junhua made a call to action, reminding all attendees of the need to increase current efforts four-fold if the world is to achieve its 2030 goals. Several other high-level speakers followed, with President of the UN General Assembly Mr Csaba Korosi also calling for the deeper integration of water and climate.
Two youth representatives made statements at the opening session. Lindsey Blodgétt, youth representative of the World Meteorological Organization’s Water and Climate Coalition Leaders Panel – and former World Youth Parliament for Water President-, called for collective action and commitments from water leaders. She called for water leaders to work together in harmony, not in competition, as we work to reach SDG 6. Blodgett called for this collective action to resemble a symphony for water. Keziah Theresee Gerosano, Partnerships Lead of the United Nations International Federation of Youth (UN1FY) for the very same Water and Climate Coalition, called for 15% of the annual budget of every UN body to be dedicated to water and climate.
Following the opening ceremony, the 1200 stakeholders broke into 5 roundtable discussions for the day, each centered around important areas of progression for the water sector. Topics included:
- Capacity Development
- Data and Information
- The capacity building roundtable discussed the role of youth in the water sector at length, with one stakeholder highlighting the lack of recruitment and retention of young people in the water sector. Lindsey Blodgett also pointed to the lack of confidence young professionals have in obtaining their desired water job because of universities not providing the necessary skills needed from today’s water sector job market. Game changers were suggested to overcome these issues, such as the establishment of a global system of water training centers and networks for inclusive education and capacity development.
- The governance roundtable encouraged participants to identify new water management approaches for national-to-regional governance, the integration of programs for water monitoring and use, and more transparent stakeholder participation pathways. Moderator Dr. Susanne Schmeier asked for new ideas and contributions to recognize water’s cultural and environmental value, and for more equitable pathways to involve those affected by local and global water challenges. USA Co-President of the North American Youth Parliament for Water, Lynn Porta
- President of the World Youth Parliament for Water, Carolina Tornesi Mackinnon, moderated the roundtable on data and information, where she brought attention to the need of financing for youth. Furthermore, stakeholders agreed that an open global water information system and platform that integrates physical and societal data was necessary for the water sector to achieve SDG6. Importantly, such data must be freely accessible, consistent, comparable, and interoperable at scale.
The voice of youth featured strongly throughout the day’s events, with these game changers and many more being delivered to the preparatory meeting for the UN 2023 Water Conference held the next day. In her statement to United Nations Member States as Global Focal Point on SDG6 for the Major Group for Children and Youth, Amy Syvrud called on all to designate a youth representative to their national delegation to the conference in March and to consider how youth perspectives can be integrated into each dialogue theme and associated sessions.
The strong influence and positioning of the youth voices over these two days was in no small part due to the dialogues organized by the Global Youth Movement for Water both preceding and during the stakeholders meeting in New York. The Movement facilitated the unity of attending youth organizations under a set of common messages, creating a strong and consistent youth voice at the conference.
This article was written by members of the Global Youth Movement for Water: Alex Whitebrook (Water & Climate Coalition Leaders and former World Youth Parliament for Water VP), Amy Svyrud (United Nations Major Group for Children & Youth) , Carolina Tornesi MacKinnon (World Youth Parliament for Water – President), Lindsey Blodgett (Water & Climate Coalition Leaders and former World Youth Parliament for Water President), Erica Lynn Porta (North American Youth Parliament for Water) and Keziah Gerosano (UNIFY).
About the Global Youth Movement for Water
The Global Youth Movement for Water, a coalition of youth-led organisations and organisations working with youth, was launched during the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal. The Movement is working together to influence decision making and stimulate action at all levels. More specifically, the Movement is working to mobilise & empower youth on the Road to the UN2023 Water Decade Conferencce, advocate for bold, ambitious and impactful commitments reflecting the priorities of youth and connect the local to the global. The Movement is supported by the International Secretariat for Water, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation & the Netherlands Government.
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