GWP-C Water Academy for Youth Graduate Akil Crichlow Lands Global Internship at GWP Headquarters in Sweden

In December 2021, the Global Water Partnership (GWP) issued an international call to recruit five (5) interns for Spring 2022 to support the work at its global secretariat in Stockholm, Sweden. This coveted internship, provides opportunities for students interested in sustainable development and water governance to gain hands-on work experience in the worldwide GWP network. Of these five (5) available positions and after a competitive recruitment process, 24-year-old Akil Crichlow from Trinidad and Tobago has been selected as GWP’s Learning and Knowledge Management intern.

Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) as the Caribbean arm of the GWP, is thrilled to congratulate Akil on this achievement, especially as a recent graduate of GWP-C’s first-ever Water Academy for Youth (GWP-C WAY). The GWP-C WAY is a specially designed training programme for Caribbean young leaders and professionals between the ages of 20 – 35 years, which builds their capacity in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). Additionally, it equips them with a range of skills that would allow them to provide sustainable solutions to water management issues.

About Akil Crichlow

Apart from his participation in the GWP-C WAY, Akil Crichlow’s passion for water management runs deep. This rising academic and professional has a keen interest in the environmental and sustainability sector. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Environmental and Natural Resource Management from The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine Campus (a programme done jointly across the Faculties of Science and Technology and Food and Agriculture).

He then qualified and was awarded a full postgraduate scholarship by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF SPC) to pursue a Master of Science degree in Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development in the Caribbean at The UWI St. Augustine. Akil shared, that under the mentorship of Dr. Ronald Roopnarine {Lecturer in the Faculty of Food and Agriculture at the UWI St. Augustine & Network Manager of Caribbean WaterNet (Cap-Net)} during his graduate research which focuses on nature-based solutions in building disaster risk resilience, he began exploring and making his way into sustainable water resources management.

The 24-year-old has an acute understanding of the unforgiving water insecure realities that loom over the Caribbean region. According to him, “I believe with the onset of climate change and the projected increase in water-related disasters, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, the strengths, weaknesses and interconnections of the Caribbean’s water resources, and its growing populations are being tested.” “The time to act is now,” says Akil, who believes our actions as a region must be accurately informed by building capacity in water knowledge. These realities led him to delve into the areas of monitoring, evaluation, learning and knowledge management within water resources.

GWP-C had the opportunity to reach out and congratulate Akil on being awarded the GWP Learning and Knowledge Management internship position.

When asked, “What does this mean to you, having been selected for this position from a pool of global applicants?” he said:

“Being awarded the GWP internship under Learning and Knowledge Management is a gratifying and empowering experience. Having the ability to represent the perspectives of Trinidad and Tobago and by extension, the Caribbean region on an international scale is genuinely a humbling experience. The Caribbean perspective is unique, and I hope to share my growing knowledge of the Caribbean with Sweden and bring back my newly acquired experiences to the region. Also, having been selected from a pool of global candidates, reiterates that the Caribbean is replete with excellence and should be an integral part of international policy development, learning and capacity building.”

When asked why he was particularly interested in the Learning and Knowledge Management internship of the five (5) positions advertised, Akil stated:

“Knowledge is power, and an informed society becomes empowered to act. The Learning and Knowledge Management position stood out, as it allows me to transition from a technical and natural science space into the policy and capacity building realm. This will allow me to translate complex science, making it digestible to various audiences. The GWP Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Knowledge (MELK) Toolbox team plays a pivotal role in this regard, curating IWRM tools that stand to benefit all regions of the world, particularly my home region, the Caribbean. Therefore, contributing to this knowledge was quite an incentive, as it allows me to make an active difference in the water sector.”

In our interview with Akil, his appreciation for the area of water resources management was undeniable. According to him, “water resources management calls for the synergistic integration of multiple schools of thought, thereby giving the practitioner a wealth of knowledge.” He explained that water resources management allows him to put his academic background into practice, a background that gives him an understanding of water from two (2) perspectives. He explained that “a hydrological view enables me to see water as a physical resource and the ecosystem functions that allow water resources to flourish naturally. Secondly, a policy, capacity building, and implementation framework view highlights the interventions needed to sustain water as a critical life resource.”

Akil was a member of the first-ever GWP-C WAY Cohort in 2021. When asked how he believes the knowledge gained in the GWP-C WAY may be helpful or applied in his internship, he commented:

“My participation in the GWP-C Water Academy for Youth truly built my knowledge of the water space. It equipped me with a wealth of invaluable insights regarding the need to reach various audiences via different mediums and using innovative techniques to inform IWRM knowledge. The multidisciplinary training solidified my interest in adding Integrated Water Resources Management as a speciality to my knowledge bank. Against this backdrop, the GWP internship under the MELK Team presents a professional community/environment that will allow me to practice the theory taught in the Academy. It also creates a space for me to determine any niche areas worth exploring for my Doctoral (PhD) studies in the near future.”

In connecting with this young Caribbean leader, it is clear that Akil’s research experience from his graduate studies journey and other professional experiences, have also equipped him with various competencies to take on his GWP internship.

GWP-C was curious to know what he was most keen on learning during his internship. According to Akil, “I am looking forward to gaining more insight into the development process of curating tools under the four pillars of IWRM in the GWP Toolbox and Action Hub. It offers an opportunity to advance my knowledge significantly, becoming even more aware of the water sector. Outreach, marketing, and communications campaigns are also areas of interest, as it makes a space for creativity and innovation. The development of case studies for the GWP Toolbox is also on my radar, as this would enable me to gain insight into the actions taken by different regions around the world and lessons learnt.”

In our interview, Akil offered advice to other young professionals like himself with a passion for water and environmental management seeking global opportunities. He said:

“Never limit yourself; reach for every opportunity; there is no cap to what you can achieve. Determination, Drive, and Passion will clear any obstruction in your pathway. Also, do not be afraid of rejection, as it can often redirect you to where you are indeed supposed to be. In the past, I have been rejected by many companies, and today I stand proud as I participate in an International Internship Programme with the Global Water Partnership Organisation, meeting persons of all nationalities and ethnicities helping to create a water secure world. Also, find yourself a great mentor. Because of the mentorship provided by Dr. Ronald Roopnarine and his invaluable guidance, I have begun realising and reaching my full potential as a young academic and professional in the environmental field. Self-actualisation can be a challenging journey, but it is undoubtedly the path to success.”

He added that being awarded this GWP internship has allowed him to reflect on the fact that opportunities such as this can be made even more visible to other potential candidates in his country and region. He shared that the “GWP Organisation can consider an international exchange programme with The UWI and advertise their internship programme through relevant faculties that may align with different teams within their organisation. Partnering with The University can allow more persons like myself to access these fantastic professional development opportunities.”

Akil found out about this internship opportunity through news shared by both GWP and GWP-C. He is the Caribbean region’s second and Trinidad and Tobago’s first Learning and Knowledge Management Intern at the GWP Organisation in Stockholm, Sweden.

GWP-C wishes to congratulate Akil Crichlow once again on this notable accomplishment! We have no doubt in our minds that he will excel and add tremendous value in this role.