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As a part of the ‘Water and Climate Dialogue Series’, UNU organised a mini-symposium ‘Youth, Water Security, and the 2030 Agenda’ – with special focus on the ‘Water Security’ agenda and framework proposed by UN Water on August 23, 2017, at UNU INWEH, Canada. Commemorating the International Youth Day (celebrated worldwide August 12, themed, ‘Youth Building Peace’) and dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to science, policy and impact, the young professionals from academic institutions or/and nationalities in Canada, South Korea, Caribbean Islands, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Peru etc…. participated in the event covering topics viz., water-health nexus, water and sustainable development goals, the New Urban agenda, climate change and SIDS (small island developing states), and the challenges of managing shared water systems with focus on the Amazon basin amid others. To summarize, the event provided a platform for youth to create and share their own lens of water security and their vision of water secure world.

The young professionals casted a spotlight on their vision of a ‘water secure world’ and the solutions they feel may lead to mitigating water inequality. The widespread discussions on the theme outlined in the water security conceptual framework and the Sustainable Development Goals set the stage for an existing set of deliberations in which participants highlighted, among other points, how the vision of a water secure world is attached to the enablement of young people. In the subsequent presentations and discussions, the participants took up water issues from numerous angles, with the participant from Peru drawing attention to the problem in the Amazon region to implement the shared water management. The talk from the Caribbean region underlined the seriousness of climate change impacts for the Small Islands Developing States. The UNU-INWEH’s Embedded Learning Experience Scholars- coming from the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), South Korea stated in their presentation stated that the policies discussions on the issues on urban development and human migration are crucial to address future conflict and to ensure sustainable human development.

What is your vision of a water secure world?

“…Looking forward to a world where everyone has access to portable water, which no one is charged for accessing which is a basic human right…”
”…to ensure access to safe drinking water to the universe…”
”…protection against water hazards and protection from preventable water related diseases”…
”…sanitized water for all and strengthened social capital in every level of community (locals)…”
”…Water secure world is a world where everyone has adequate access to quality water that is culturally appropriate…”
”…Water secure world means government gives environmental and climate issues high priority…”
”…use creativity and innovation to develop less water intensive methods for production of goods to be less wasteful and increase sustainability of our water resources…”
”…water secure world is a place where water is available and accessible to everyone, everywhere at any time for various purposes…”
“…clean water resources are distributed equally and governed in a way that accounts for the needs of all”…
”…water secure world is a world where equality has been achieved…”
“…water secure world is a place where every human being gets the basic water necessity and this is actual human right in real terms…”

Towards the closing, the youth delegations took to not only recognizing challenges, but deliberate the ways to address them. The summary of the take home messages captures the range in perspectives towards the uptake of the water security concept and the thematic diversity.

What is your take home message?

“We all have a role to play in reducing the problem of water insecurity in the world and people have to involve making water secure world.”
“The process starts with me.”
“Water research is introduced and multiple areas of focus research feeds into one another.”
“Water security and sanitation aren’t separate conversations.”
“Water security is complex and we need culturally sensitive indicators to enable us track progress.”
“Local consultation is very important.”
“People need to be ready to jointly work together and demand their human rights and dignity to protect their water resources. Capacity building for countries and politicians is need as either they are ill equipped or not interested.”
“Access to water and sanitation is basic for development. Water is linked to development sector like health, education and so on.”
“Research of issues and implementation of solutions needs to be context -specific.”
“Different disciplines can talk to each other to solve water issues.”
“Water is essential to live on planet because it is used in for growing foods, cleaning, provid-ing power and many other things. So it must be saved by us, if we want to stay alive.”