World Water Week, Stockholm, Sweden, 30 Aug 2022

Gamechanger challenge seeks ideas from youth to tackle global water challenges

Young people who have innovative and implementable ideas on how to address global water challenges and ensure a climate resilient future are invited to take part in the UN2023 Gamechanger Challenge, launched 29 August during an event at World Water Week in Stockholm.

The UN2023 Gamechanger Challenge invites students 17 or older to form teams of two-six people to develop ideas, and submit these to the challenge. Teams whose ideas are selected will receive coaching to develop their ideas further, and five finalist teams will be invited to New York in March 2023 to present their ideas at the UN2023 Water Conference, which is co-organized by the Netherlands and Tajikistan.

Speaking during the launch event, Dutch Special Envoy for International Water Affairs Henk Ovink said that to spark true change, innovation must go beyond technical solutions, business cases and single focuses.

“Innovation, definitely led by the young, connects the technical, societal, economic but also cultural. You can help us bridge divides, borders, continents, rivers, lakes, aquifers and oceans,” he said.

The challenge is organized by Wavemakers United and IHE Delft with support from the Dutch government. IHE Delft Rector Eddy Moors said the challenge aimed to reach beyond the water sector.

“With this water challenge, what we’re trying to achieve is to connect with the people who have an interest in water, through sports or education, but also with the people who are normally not interested in water - how can we engage them? How can we have also them onboard? We need everyone to help create change,” he said.

Wavemakers United founder Tilly Stroo added: “We enable youth to present their local innovations at the UN2023 Water conference and encourage them to develop these into global solutions. We aim to create sustainable and long-term partnerships beyond New York.”

Sulton Rahimzoda, Special Envoy to the President of the Republic of Tajikistan on Water and Climate Affairs, encouraged young people to engage in water, noting that their ideas and skills are needed.

“In new technology, which is one of the key areas of our future, you are smarter than me. Using social networks, using digitalization and innovation approaches. These are the things that will make change. We need you. We trust you, so join us, inspire us, energize us,” he said.

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