Youth voices united and mobilized for the 9th World Water Forum

Pre-youth conference of the 2nd Stakeholder Meeting of the 9th World Water Forum

October 11 and 13, 2021

The World Water Forum (WWF) to be held from March 21st-28th 2022 in Dakar (Senegal) is a unique opportunity to mobilize youth for water with the aim of influencing decision-makers for a sustainable and inclusive future.

The International Secretariat for Water (ISW), the Association of Young Professionals in Water and Sanitation of Senegal (AJPEAS), the World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Executive Secretariat of the 9th World Water Forum joined forces and invited young people from all over the world to participate in the Youth Pre-Conference of the 2nd Stakeholders’ Meeting of the World Water Forum.

The first part of this pre-conference took place virtually and brought together over 80 young people from various parts of the world. The participants shared their vision of a Youth Hub to be presented at the WWF in 2022. This space, created by and for young people, aims to be a place that will foster an exchange of ideas and solutions and bring together committed people.  On the 2nd day of this pre-conference, a group of 25 young Senegalese and international youth (16 young women, 9 young men) gathered in Dakar.

“The youth will shape our future.” – Amadou Ndiaye, Technical Advisor to the Executive Secretary of the Coordination Cell of the World Water Forum “Dakar 2022”

During this meeting which was moderated by the International Secretariat for Water and the Youth Steering Committee of the World Water Forum, the youth agreed that the Youth Hub will aim to create a unified global youth movement for water to influence and drive change, during and after the WWF. More specifically, this space will be a catalyst for action for youth engagement in sustainable and inclusive management of water resources by providing a showcase for youth-led initiatives and opportunities for young people in the sector. It will facilitate exchanges and collaboration between young people, between sectors and between generations and create a learning and training platform for youth.

“Change lies in action and everything that is done for youth without them is against them. The youth involved in thinking and shaping their commitment to water issues is a springboard to breathe a breath of sustainable, concerted and inclusive action to build a world with the input of all towards a vision of positive change.” – René Bayili, President of the Burkina Faso World Youth Parliament for Water

In addition, the two days of reflection allowed young people to participate in the preparation of key messages and the development of a strategy to position youth as an influential actor at the World Water Forum. Participants stressed the importance of considering youth, and especially young women,  in the implementation of projects and decisions taken, in all its forms. In addition, the inclusion of youth must take place before, during and after this major event. As Marta Zaragoza, member of the World Youth Parliament for Water, mentions, “any international organization and event that wants young people to attend will have to reflect and communicate on how the proposals of young people will be integrated into their decision-making and how they will eventually be implemented.”

The International Secretariat for Water coordinated the participation of four WYPW members in the youth pre-conference in Diamniadio as well as in the World Water Forum stakeholder meeting. These four young members from France, Spain, Lebanon and Burkina Faso successfully represented the WYPW and brought the voice of the youth to this important event.

From left to right: Maya Atié (President of the Lebanon Youth Parliament for Water & member of the WYPW Task Force for the WWF), René Bayili (President of the Burkina Faso Youth Parliament for Water), Elysa Vaillancourt (Youth Project Officer at the International Secretariat for Water), Marta Zaragoza (member of the WYPW Task Force for the WWF) & Lorette Douzals (European Representative of the WYPW & Leader of the WYPW Task Force for the WWF). 

One of the three main pillars of the ISW strategy is to facilitate the development of the youth movement for water. The vision of the ISW Youth Strategy 2017-2022 is inspired by the idea of the #WaterGeneration, a movement that involves a large-scale, dynamic and connected mobilization of young people around the world. Since 2002, ISW has supported and guided the WYPW by connecting young people to decision-making processes and mobilizing them for action.

Would you like to get involved in the global youth movement for water? Would you like to bring the voice of youth to the World Water Forum?