GWP launched the Water Academy for Youth (WAY) GWP’s flagship Youth Programme in 2021 as the umbrella programme for GWP’s Youth activities. The South Asia edition of the programme was started on 26 September and ended on 5 December 2022 with a webinar in the presence of the mentors, facilitators and organizers. GWP SAS partnered with Waterlution and Water Science and Policy to organise the programme successfully.
After a competitive application process, a cohort of 19 youths from across South Asia was selected who brought their knowledge, experience, passion, and energy to the programme. The selected youth group was quickly immersed in curriculum components of design thinking, systems thinking, problem identification, and storytelling. Based on the learning materials of the curriculum they have initiated their mini projects, and their first goal was to effectively identify a problem by dissecting it and communicating it effectively through storytelling. The cohort then engaged with the remaining curriculum components of SDG6, IWRM and solution finding which allowed them to identify potential solutions which enable them to tackle the roots of the problems that they have identified at the beginning.
The cohort had the opportunity to connect with their fellow members through a series of networking events where they shared their experiences and built a strong sense of community. The second half of the programme - finding solutions was facilitated through peer-to-peer feedback. The collaborative nature of the process allowed participants to learn about regional commonalities in terms of water-related problems as well their contextual differences.
By providing an inter-regional networking opportunity, the participants were invited to join the GWP Southeast Asia (GWP SEA) WAY programme and the youth were exposed to joint training on a few curriculum components such as Storytelling, Leadership, SDG and IWRM.
From the very beginning of the programme, each participant was introduced to a mentor for the mentorship component. The participants engaged in one-on-one inter-generational dialogue for professional guidance and support. In some cases, the mentors also provided feedback and inputs to the mini-projects and curriculum components that further enhanced the programme experience. The mentor-mentee experience was fruitful for both mentor and mentee to develop their networks, and some have also decided to continue their relationships beyond the programme duration.
The programme concluded with a webinar where the youth presented their cases in brief in breakout groups. The mentors, facilitators and organizers of the programme were invited to the event to celebrate the accomplishments of the participants. The final presentations included a range of different titles with special disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspectives such as river pollution, transboundary cooperation, flood management, urban development, nature-based solutions, ecosystem conservation and climate change. The final outputs of the SAS WAY programme are available in the GWP ToolBox YYPP Community of Practice.
After the programme ended, the GWP SAS WAY alumni joined with GWP SAS Youth and Young Water Professionals Platform (YYPP) to continue their engagement in the water space. They will be acting as a pool of knowledgeable youth with important skills such as critical thinking. Some of the WAY alumni have already taken over the leadership positions of YYPP and will be involved in planning and programming in order to strengthen the platform.
Throughout the programme, the cohort connected with decision-makers, practitioners, and senior water leaders for mentorship, inter-generational dialogues, networking and to act on SDG implementation around riverscapes and riverine ecosystems in South Asia. The programme has strengthened youth capacity and facilitated networking.