"I started believing that I have a space where I can show that youth is interested in these processes", said Joanna O'Keefe.
Through its Youth Engagement Strategy, GWP emphasises its commitment to involve and hear from young people. At Budapest Water Summit, GWP and Partners organised two youth events, under the themes “The potential role of youth in solving water crises” and “The urgent need for effective inter-generational dialogues”. Hearing from the participants, it emerged that networking and personal growth are big incentives for youth to get involved with GWP.
"GWP helped me develop myself. I got more confident when I talked to people - the first time I talked to a large group of people was because of GWP. I also had the opportunity to grow and make connections", said Zosia Pawlak (Poland).
Liu Yin (China) said that GWP is the first international organisation that she can connect with closely, and it has also made it possible for her to make many new international friends: “This organisation is really important, and meaningful. It’s not only about technology solving the water crisis, but it’s also about the friendships of people around the world”.
"GWP helped me connect my previous experience and give it a new perspective. I've seen that I can actually bring back my knowledge to the country that I'm from, and try to create something similar there to what I've seen in other settings,” said Yelisaveta Demydenko (Ukraine).
Demydenko added that she finds GWP to be a powerful communications platform: “It's communicating with people and bringing them together. GWP allows for a forum to discuss common problems – and that's how you learn how other people approach problems, and you can start to implement joint projects.”
Looking to what should be next for GWP on a regional level, Elena Margineanu (Moldova) stressed that education is the key. “We should raise awareness and inform children more about the technical aspects. Not only to those who have already decided what is their future career path. The next steps, in my ideal version, would be to go to schools in rural areas and talk to the children about what is really happening to our natural resources".
It is very important to GWP to mobilise and motivate young leaders by creating and offering spaces for them to share their experiences with their peers and senior experts. The Budapest Water Summit offered this opportunity and strengthened relationships with our youth partners. Some of the main messages that came from the youth at the Summit was improved communication, capacity building and collaboration with different stakeholders especially outside of the traditional water community. In the coming months GWP will aim to implement projects and programmes that will be targeted to meet the needs of young water leaders to improve their engagement in water resources management.
Photo: The youth group at Budapest Water Summit was brought togehter by GWP Central and Eastern Europe.