New Storytelling Initiative to Boost Youth Voices

In its new Strategy for 2020-2025, GWP has committed to “purposefully reach out to and mobilise youth groups and younger individuals to confront water resources management challenges”. This statement is based on a commitment that GWP made in 2015, in its Youth Engagement Strategy. Now, a very tangible outcome is being introduced – a close collaboration with GWP and youth organisations to make sure that the voices of youth are heard.

GWP has collaborated with the World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW) for a many years, and in 2015, this collaboration was further cemented in GWP’s Youth Engagement Strategy.

The President of WYPW is an invited observer to the GWP Steering Committee meetings, and at WYPW's 4th General Assembly in 2018 – simultaneously held with the World Water Forum – Lindsey Aldaco-Manner was inspired to run for President where she was successful in obtaining the position. She has been dedicated to the organisation ever since. She says:

“I have found my experience in this role well-respected and inviting. To begin, there are not many big organisations or bodies that incorporate youth leadership into their DNA and see it holding high value. GWP does this! When I attend the Steering Committee, I provide recommendations and suggestions just as they do. This has shown me that GWP takes seriously the role of youth in its governance processes. It has also been a great opportunity to learn from my colleagues and their experiences in the water sector - ways in which I have also been able to grow in my own leadership and professional practices.”

As for what value this holds for the members of WYPW, Aldaco-Manner highlights that members of WYPW benefit from a partnership with GWP because the trust on “best interest” in mind that GWP has:

“Often senior organisations want youth around at the end of their projects so they can check the gold box standard for including youth. But I see true integration of youth in processes and planning from GWP. Examples of this is from their offerings of youth internships, their 2015 Youth Engagement Strategy, their new Youth Engagement Specialist, their platform Youth for Water and Climate, which supports and helps fund youth-led water projects, and my role as a observing board member. In these capacities and more, GWP supports and provides platforms for youth and for WYPW members.”

“Voices of Water” 

GWP’s newly established position for a Youth Engagement Specialist has a specific goal to implement its Youth Engagement Strategy. Rianna Gonzales took up the role in August 2019 and her ambition is set high: “My vision is to create opportunities to mobilise and build capacity of young people to effectively participate and contribute to good water management, improved governance and a change in water culture.”

GWP and WYPW are now embarking on a monthly commitment to showcase youth stories. Aldaco-Manner says:

“In my near 2 years of interaction with the international water world, if I find that the water sector is for some odd reason really motivated to write REPORTS REPORTS REPORTS, I say, here’s what the water sector needs: ACTION ACTION ACTION. The members of WYPW are some of the most inspiring young entrepreneurs, researchers, and activists I know. They work relentlessly on the ground for their communities to have water and to make a change for climate change. In fact, it was in hearing their stories that motivated me to run for my position as President of WYPW in the first place.  It is their stories which continues to push me and motivate me in the work I do for youth. I am reminded that if I don’t continue to speak up, then their voices and stories might not be heard. This initiative with GWP is therefore an excellent opportunity for the real reporting that needs to be done— stories on water heroes. I hope you will be able to draw a great sense of inspiration from these youth stories, inspiration that motivates you, compels you, and pushes you to work even harder for the water secure world we are all fighting for. I know I have.”

Gonzales agrees: “The GWP vision of a water secure world cannot be fully realised without the inclusion of youth. There are many young water leaders out there doing their part to create a water secure world, from educating their peers on proper water resources management to creating safe access to clean water to lobbying governments to bring youth to the decision-making table. Every little action is important for when they come together, they can result in big changes. It is important for these stories to be highlighted as it can spark an idea and inspire someone to act or it can give a space of visibility that makes a connection which ripples into a change in behaviour, a funding opportunity or even a policy change.”

Do you have a good youth water story to share? Please get in touch with us on

Photo:  Lindsey Aldaco-Manner to the left, Rianna Gonzales to the right