Trinidadian is First-Ever Caribbean Participant in GWP-CEE’s Water Summer School in Poland

Nishana Ramsawak of Trinidad and Tobago, is the first-ever Caribbean representative to participate in an annual Water Summer School Programme, organised by the Global Water Partnership-Central and Eastern Europe (GWP-CEE).

Nishana Ramsawak from Trinidad is seen on the extreme right (front row) along with other participants that completed the GWP-CEE Water Summer School Programme in July.

The programme is carefully designed to enhance the skills of students enrolled in various water-related MSc and PhD programmes from universities mainly throughout Europe. The week-long curriculum is known for presenting participants with the most current global and regional issues and challenges them to explore innovative approaches in addressing them.

This year, the Summer School focused on Agenda 2030 with a key focus on Water Security and Climate Resilience. It was held in Warsaw, Poland from July 1st – 6th, 2018 at Warsaw’s University of Life Sciences. It represented a collaboration between GWP-CEE, Solidarity Water Europe and Youth Water Community Central and Eastern Europe (YWCCEE).

The Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) had the pleasure of finding out more about Ms. Ramsawak and her experience at GWP-CEE’s Summer School:

Nishana Ramsawak is currently a Quality Control Supervisor at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) of Trinidad and Tobago. This young professional is also engaged in doctoral level research in environmental chemistry. She holds a BSc in Chemistry and Management and an MSc in Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health, from The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine Campus. She also holds an International Water Law Certificate from the University of Geneva.

Her passion for water management and contributing to the development of young people, is intimately connected to how she found out about the Water Summer School Programme in Poland. Her journey with water and youth advocacy dates back to 2010 when she applied to be a “water warrior” through the United Nations (UN). Water warriors are empowered to give a voice to water and related issues. Following this, she also became a UN Youth Volunteer. Nishana is also a member of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) Trinidad and Tobago Chapter; a group that always gives her immense support.

Her fascination with water and associated areas such as wastewater, water innovation and climate change, has led to her involvement in fora at the international level. Notably, her participation in the 2016 Singapore International Water Week as a young water professional. Additionally, she is a member of various online water groups that exchange knowledge, ideas and various water-related opportunities. It was through one of these groups that she learnt of the Water Summer School Programme put on by GWP-CEE.

Nishana is the first Caribbean representative that has been selected to be part of the Water Summer School Programme. In her words “the programme was an invaluable experience that was full of learning.” Additionally, it showed her that water is not just a utility but a necessity.

Recounting her experience in the week-long programme, she pointed out how inspired she was by other young people like herself, who are passionate about water and finding ways to overcome water and climate change challenges.

Nishana Ramsawak from Trinidad seen here at the Water Summer School Programme in Poland.

Being the only Caribbean person at the Water Summer School, allowed her to engage in meaningful south-south learning with participants. She mentioned that she was able to share experiences from Trinidad in terms of access and treatment of water. She was also able to learn about various practical solutions that could possibly be implemented in Trinidad and Tobago, that are used by countries in Europe in terms of river restoration, flooding, water metering solutions, water innovation and more.

A very important part of the Summer School, involved a dialogue on Water and Climate Change Policies between participants and policy-makers called “Youth Voices – Policy Choices.” This provided a rare and interactive platform for discussion to take place between the young water advocates and decision-makers. According to Nishana “the interaction with the decision-makers, made me feel that my voice was being heard and I was also able to give the Caribbean a voice there.”

Trinidadian participant Nishana Ramsawak is seen here with her group members during the session “Youth Voices – Policy Choices.”  

In this session, the youth participants were able to share their ideas on water and climate that could be taken forward to COP24 – The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP24 will take place in December, in Poland.

Her Water Summer School experience, reinforced her view and desire for young people to be involved in and taught about water as a necessity, from early on. It also further highlighted to her, how much the younger generation has to offer and how unique they are in putting forward good and innovative ideas and transferring them into action.

Nishana Ramsawak (right) is seen here with Gergana Majercakova (left), Communications Officer of GWP-CEE and Dr. Adam Kovacs (middle), Technical Expert on Pollution Control at the Permanent Secretariat of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) at the Water Summer School.

Nishana is thankful to have been able to participate in the programme and for the knowledge she gained. Inspired by the experts and decision-makers she met at the “Youth Voices – Policy Choices” session, she stated “I could be like them and make a difference and influence young minds, and that’s where I want to be.” Since returning to Trinidad after the programme, Nishana has already began advocating for consideration of a similar Water Summer School to be rolled-out in Trinidad and the wider Caribbean.