After attending several sessions and workshops during the first half of the World Water Week, it was time for the Young Professional’s day, more specifically it was time for our own session. The session began with 5 interactive minutes in which the participants were asked to write down the challenges and opportunities they expect youth to face.
Speeches of young professionals
Secondly, three speakers presented the challenges they are facing as young professionals in the water sector. One of them was our Vice President Antonella Vagliente, who elaborated on the difficulties young people experience when they work with seniors in the water sector. Young people are often being seen as volunteers instead of decision makers. Antonella pointed out that young people should be judged by our abilities, not by our age. She argued that, even though almost every organization recognizes youth as an important stakeholder in the water sector, in reality youth’s abilities are still being questioned.
According to Hope Mwanake, challenges in combination with courage create opportunities. Her motto: think big, start small, start now.
For young professionals, it is considered quite difficult to develop sustainable projects, to deliver results due to lack of access to several resources including funding. According to Ahmed Shafa Shovon, creating youth capabilities, building partnerships with organizations and creating a global network can be tools which will help young professionals to find their way within the sector.
Next, the several seniors entered the stage to reflect on the speeches. Malik Sisodia agreed on the challenges youth has to deal with: lack of funding, lack of access to resources and above all, often people don’t listen to the youth. He encouraged young people to work hard and to always keep in mind their goals. Lastly, for the financial part, he advised to seek funding in local communities and to involve directly.
During the panel discussion the question: “What can be done to involve youth?” was being discussed. Some of the outcomes:
A) Young people can learn a lot when they have a job.
B) We must combine passion and work to evolve in the water sector.
C) Support from seniors hereby is absolutely necessary.
D) Youth needs training to learn how to enhance their projects.
The final topic that was being discussed concerned the involvement of youth in agriculture and how to involve youth in the development of agriculture. For young people there is a social barrier, mainly because agriculture is being considered as farming only. Also, it is important to show youth that there is potential in the agricultural sector. Youth first needs to understand the importance of issues in this sector. There has to be an exchange of knowledge and experiences between the current and next generation in the sector.