Young people are innately aware that they will inherit the consequences of the decisions made today. They have been making their voices heard at the highest levels and implementing innovative solutions to influence change. In the words of former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, “Youth are not only leaders of tomorrow but are the leaders of today.”
However, change happens when people make it happen. We need to understand ‘the whys’, then we can make sense of ‘the hows’ and take an active part in ‘what we can actually do’ to contribute to water and sustainability challenges, both globally and locally. This requires going beyond knowledge gained from traditional classrooms, bringing together interactive and integrated facilitation techniques for a more targeted approach.
To support this, we created the GWP W.A.Y., an umbrella initiative consisting of:
1) Regional programmes, currently ongoing in the Caribbean and Southern Africa, targeting specific challenges in each region:
- The GWP Caribbean W.A.Y. “Youth Led Sustainable Solutions to Regional Water Issues” is a programme with 35 carefully selected young leaders from across the Caribbean and several GWP partners. It concludes at the end of September and will result in the identification of youth country focal points. Two GWP Caribbean Youth Ambassadors who will also gain internships at partner organisations.
- The GWP Southern Africa W.A.Y. focuses on Water, Health, Energy, and Food Nexus Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This activity will target 32 SADC SAYWIN youth leaders leaders later this year and will result in the development of bankable projects and the establishment of an innovation community for the SADC youth.
2) A global programme, currently in the form of an online course (free of charge), “From Learning to Leading; Beyond the ABCs of Youth Water and the SDGs” in collaboration with Cap-Net and the University of San Andres, which is also a focal point for UNESCO Education for Sustainability. This course opens for registration on 17 August and will focus on providing strategies and tools for young water leaders to mobilise and advocate for change on water related issues.
The emerging young leaders from these different streams will also have the opportunity to become part of the GWP W.A.Y. Community that will be hosted on the new GWP ToolBox website. Stay tuned as we rise from inertia to action!