The next generation of water practitioners and leaders is increasingly visible at international water fora such as the World Water Week in Stockholm. At this year's event, the Water Youth Network (WYN) was one of the key collaborating partners. As part of an MoU between IHE Delft and WYN, the Institute yearly sponsors selected students to join the Network's activities at the World Water Week. Read about their experiences here.
Recognising the importance of youth
Attending the World Water Week has been one of the most enriching and enthralling experiences for me. The WWW brings together experts, professionals, researchers and students from various countries, which gave me the opportunity not just to interact with them, but to also learn from their experiences. The sessions, based on the theme of ‘Water for society- including all’, were a medley of events, seminars, meetings, ‘hangouts’, and games. This formal, yet informal setup made it easier for me to break the ice and connect with peers and experts from across different domains.
This was also the first time, wherein I was a speaker at the session, ‘A big push for drought resilience-can it include all? .’ Very often, the voices of youth are missed out in an international forum owing to the lack of expertise or experience amid youth. But this year, it was inspiring to see how different organisations are recognising the importance of youth, thereby encouraging us to take the lead! My session was therefore, a wonderful experience. Not only did I receive the opportunity to present my work, it also helped me comprehend how the problem of drought is being tacked in different countries.
Most importantly, I was representing the Water Youth Network and IHE Delft-Institute for Water Education which was an honour and a huge responsibility too! On one hand, I networked with inspiring youth who were doing great things, while on the other hand I had the chance to meet IHE Alumni who were like role models to me. At a professional level, networking with great minds is the best take away for me. At a personal level, I made great friendships and met delightful people who made my time at the World Water Week worthwhile.
Attending this conference taught me that we might not have solutions to all the problems of the planet. But what we do have is the will and motivation to tackle these problems in a more inclusive way, without giving up!
Maitreyi Koduganti, MSc Student Water Management and Governance
An incredible opportunity
The World Water Week 2019 was a remarkable event where many professionals and practitioners gather together to share and develop ideas in terms of the dialogue about water. I had a great experience as being part of the Water Youth Network and as a Water Management and Governance student.
First of all, the event was arranged with various booths and sessions in different formats. The booths were really dynamic, you could “play” with the SDGs in order to build the most creative water network, or listening to pitches that explained how by supporting the youth it is possible to get inspiration and create resolutions to water problems; while in the sessions it was possible to listen about how it is possible to finance water risks through nature based solutions for example, or to participate in active workshops that reflect over the impact, effectiveness and sustainability of water and development funding.
Additionally, the wide diversity of assistants was really impressive since on the one hand you had the opportunity to talk to young entrepreneurs that are in the middle of a journey to develop further ideas and projects in order to provide innovative solutions to water issues around the world, and on the other hand, it was possible to know the different projects that the World Bank is supporting in America.
Moreover, as part of the Water Youth Network, which I joined few months back, I was able to network with people by telling the main purpose of the WYN and convince them to join in order to strengthen the presence of youth around the water world.
To me was an incredible opportunity to build not only my professional network and learn from other experiences. This event gave me a lot of inspiration and hope in regards that ‘everything is possible’ you just need to connect with the right people.
Ana Alejandra Leal, MSc Student Water Management and Governance
Water Youth Network
The Water Youth Network is a global connector in the water sector, made up of a vibrant community of students and young professionals and across disciplines. The Water Youth Network is neither an implementation organization nor a fund, but rather an organization that encourages and enables the connection of young individuals and organizations within and beyond the water sector.
The network was born out of a group of young water professionals who met at the 6th World Water Forum (WWF) in Marseille, France in 2012. The organization was first registered in France in 2013, and later shifted its registration in the Netherlands in 2017.
The initial concept of the network came from a recognition that there are many water-related organizations with common goals, but there is a lack of cooperation among youth organizations and between youth organizations and “established” organizations. Likewise, the group of young professionals at the 6th WWF saw great potential in shifting the involvement of young people from a “decorative” role to a more meaningful role, especially in decision-making forums.