Swiss Junior Water Prize: Sharing experiences with a new generation

Bern, 18th January 2020. Zamir Borojevic, Swiss Junior Water Prize 2019, shared the stage with Anna-Katharina Funk during the eliminatory workshop of Swiss Youth in Science (SYiS). Both Alumni shared their valuable experiences with a group of students participating in this year’s contest.

Every year, hundreds of students countrywide submit projects to participate in SYiS. Students who submitted projects to the national contest last October gathered on 18th January in Bern for the eliminatory workshop, where they presented their work to the field experts. A great effort is undertaken by SYiS to provide each student or group of students who present a project in the workshop with an individual expert to coach them. This coaching often helps the students to improve the theory basis of their projects as well as the interpretation and presentation of their results. Students with a passion for science and the subject of their work profit from this valuable offer considerably.

Approximately 100 projects were selected to compete in the finals taking place from 23th-25th April in Biel/Bienne. During the finals, more than 30 special prizes will be awarded to the best projects, among them the Swiss Junior Water Prize 2020.

Swiss Junior Water Prize: visit to the House of Government in Bern

Every year, young talents who reach the highest scores at the National Contest Swiss Youth in Science are invited to spend a day at the House of Government in Bern, where they are hosted by the Federal President in turn.

Zamir Borojevic, winner of the Swiss Junior Water Prize 2019, who reached the excellent mark in this year’s contest, was among the group of students visiting the Federal Assembly on 28th November. The group had the opportunity to exchange about their subjects of interest with President Mr. Ueli Maurer, who congratulated all the winners on their success in the National Competition and exhorted them to take their knowledge out into the world and use every opportunity to spread innovative Swiss ideas internationally.

Read the press release here (in German) Medienmitteilung | Empfang Bundespräsident 2019

Young scientists from SJWP address leaders attending COP25

“They are our future, the next generation can continue where we left off. But before they can do it, we need to start taking action, now.”  

Zamir Borojevic, winner of the Swiss Junior Water Prize 2019 and fellow finalist of this year’s Stockholm Junior Water Prize sent a messages to the international leaders gathering im Madrid for COP25.The World Climate Summit 2019 takes place in Madrid from 2nd to 13th December with the objective of reaching agreements and commitments between nations to fight agains the effects of climate change.

Watch the message here

Read also the statement of the finalists on climate change Young Water Scientists Call for Climate Action. 

Summary | Geneva Peace Week Event - Water and Conflicts

This event started with the presentation of the winners of the blue peace initiative and was followed by three interactive dialogue sessions that each featured one young professional and one senior professional on the theme of water and peace.

Sarah Dousse, Director of the International Secretariat for Water, explained the initiative “Imagine Blue Peace” and announced the winners. This initiative was launched by the Geneva Water Hub, the International Secretariat for Water and the World Youth Parliament for Water focusing on youth visions on the theme of water as an instrument for peace. Through these kind of initiatives youth is included in finding solutions on how water can be used as an instrument for peace.

The second part of the session was dedicated to the dialogues, where junior and senior experts shared their know-how and discussed the following topics:

Topic 1: Local and inclusive water management practices for conflict prevention (focus: local community involvement, especially youth and women)

The goal was to enable discussion on the importance of including especially youth and women in water resources management. This session elaborated challenges and strategies to engage these groups, especially youth and pin-pointed the main reasons why the collaboration with youth as being the future leaders, is key for good water management.

Speakers: 

  • Amrita Gautuam, Universität zu Köln, Cologne, Germany
  • François Münger, Geneva Water Hub

Topic 2: Water in contemporary warfare from a civilians’ perspective (focus: Civil Society in Syria)

The session looked at the role of access to water in “new wars” and the impact of using water as a weapon due to sub-national violence (e.g. what are the consequences for civilians of deliberately impeding the water access by targeting small water infrastructure?) and at how water can be used as a leverage to strengthen civil society.

Speakers:

  • Elodie Feijoo Seara, GeoExpertise and The Water Initiative Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
  • Ronald Jaubert, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Topic 3: Fostering Transboundary Water Cooperation (focus: legal and technological perspective)

The last part was about pertinent issues related to international water law and the benefit of new technologies in transboundary water governance.

Speakers:

  • Imad Antoine Ibrahim, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy
  • Mara Tignino, Geneva Water Hub/University of Geneva

>>>>> Access the Event Organizer Substantive Report here. <<<<<<<

Event Organizer Substantive Report

Author: Elodie Feijoo Seara

How did your event contribute to building peace? (e.g. knowledge, relationships, initiatives, etc.)

The potential of art, a universal language, to promote peace, was highlighted, with the presentation of artistic interventions to communicate BluePeace. The variety of topics with three thematic sessions (one on Local and inclusive water management practices for conflict prevention; one on Water in contemporary warfare from a civilians’ perspective; and one on Fostering transboundary water cooperation) allowed to bring together speakers and participants with different interests topic-wise but sharing a common interest in the water sector. The nexus between water and peace was explored across disciplines (from law to development and engineering) and across categories of actors. The numerous co-organizers, with universities NGOs and youth organisations, from Swiss-based to international ones, allowed to have a diversity of speakers as well as a diversity of participants in the public. Actors that do not usually have the opportunity to discuss among them could interact. In addition to this, the numerous moments left for interactions with the public resulted in rich discussions and transfer of knowledge between actors. Finally, the Intergenerational Dialogue on Water and Peace developed a relationship across generations by matching young and senior experts in pairs. In order to build a lasting peace, it is important to include younger generations in the process, and the aim of this event was not only to have a youth presence among participants but to have them as speakers to give young people a platform allowing their voices to be heard and recognition of their expertise.

What new understandings emerged during your session on the needs for future peace-building practice?

Water management should be more inclusive with women and youth. There is a need to recognize their expertise and to involve them in water management. Key pre-conditions for inclusion process are to allow their voices to be heard, to understand their needs, to train them, so in fine they can take equal roles. For a meaningful water management, three elements are required: technical innovation, social innovation and institutions.

The importance of communication was raised. Water management being too technical, there is a challenge for universities in transferring knowledge to decision-makers. In the same vein, the fragmentation of water management with several institutions acting at different levels and in competition was mentioned.  Ways to facilitate the exchange of technical data and information among countries were discussed, and the role of institutional mechanisms in it was mentioned. Among countries, the role of river basin organizations for peacebuilding was emphasised, using the Senegal and Niger basin organizations as example of cooperation despite the speaking of different languages and distinct national laws.

The role of civilians as target and not collaterals in contemporary warfare was denounced using the Syrian example. Water access was described as an interesting weapon allowing to reach territories outside of territorial control, and especially effective at pressuring and displacing populations. The short-term perspective of humanitarian aid organizations with the reparation of water infrastructures was contrasted with civilians’ mid-term needs in long lasting conflicts. Keeping the water system functional is key, and as water can only be managed at the local level, the sustainability of answers and enhancement of local capacities is important to reconstruct society and build a lasting peace.

A recurrent observation among presentations was that designing is not enough! The importance of the implementation of laws by states was highlighted. The need for new laws was questioned considering the lack of implementation of current ones by states.

What policy recommendations on peace building emerged during your event?

  • Designing laws/inclusive mechanisms/institutions etc. is not enough; implementation is key!
  • Mobilize and empower a new generation of water leaders to contribute to a sustainable and peaceful development.
  • Encourage inclusive water management practices, specifically those including young people and women.
  • Improve communication and knowledge sharing between categories of actors, sectors and generations.
  • Acknowledge the role of civilians as target in contemporary warfare in order to provide adequate protective mechanisms and answers.
  • Put an emphasis on the sustainability of the humanitarian approach and complement short-term answers with an enhancement of civilians’ capacities e.g. providing them with information on how to protect, repair, and manage the infrastructures; establishment of water-users associations.
  • Share best practices from river basin organizations, such as information exchange, to favour the creation of new ones and the effective contribution of current and new organisations to peace.

>>>>> Access the Event Organizer Substantive Report here. <<<<<<<

Report: World Water Week 2019 | Stockholm

“Water for Society: Including All” 25-30 August 2019

With 4,000 participants, 277 sessions, 74 exhibitors and 578 convening organizations form 138 countries, the World Water Week (WWW) broke several records and experimented with new formats. One of the most noticeable trends in the water world is growing interest among young people. This was very evident at WWW, with one third of participants under age 35.

The theme of World Water Week 2019 was Water for Society: Including all, seeking to draw attention to the fact that humanity’s major challenges are interlinked and can only be solved through broad solutions. The escalating water crisis has increased focus on the importance of good water governance, to make sure that there is enough clean water for the many competing needs. It is of particular importance that marginalized groups are not left behind and that they can influence decision-making. How this can be achieved was explored from various angles throughout World Water Week 2019. Many sessions were dedicated to sharing the knowledge of different groups, such as people living with disabilities, ethnic minorities, slum-dwellers, the young and the elderly. Other activities focused on how gender roles and power relations impact who gets what water, reminding participants that efficient water governance may require the challenging of traditional stereotypes.

This year, 20 SWP Members were involved in the SWWW (SWP stand and/or session). The Swiss Water Partnership’s central elements were the booth with the Swiss reception and the daily presentations, Switzerland’s participation in the international competition Stockholm Junior Water Prize, one co-convened a session together with 5 SWP members, and 1 exclusive high-level side event outside the official conference hosted by the Embassy of Switzerland in Sweden.

>>>>>>>>  Read the full report here. <<<<<<<<<<<<<

SUMMARY

The Swiss presence can be summarized as follows:

  • Booth Size and Setting: The booth was in a new location, very accessible and large enough to include a presentation area, a lounge and a meeting corner with thables (the size was 30 m2). The design was kept as in the past years – clean and bright. As a networking hub, the place served for interaction, discussion, meetings. Compared to the former years, the booth had less sessions but gave more room to young people to present their initiatives (such as intergenerational talks between senior and junior water professionals and sharing lessons learned from the scientific expedition from glaciers to Aral). As the lightning and setting of the booth were different (1 open island booth in a large dark hall) the branding should be even stronger next year (the logo could be placed more prominently).

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  • High visibility of the SWP booth events: There was a min. of 25 people at SWP booth events (1 x even over 70 people). Compared to the past years, the audience almost tripled (10-15 people at the SWP booth in 2018). This indicates that the location of the SWP Booth is key. The fact of indicating early enough the wish of a strategically well-located booth proved beneficial to the Swiss water community since the SWP booth served as a networking HUB and a place for meetings. It is recommended to continue to focus on quality and innovative ways to present (market place, games, networking aperitifs) and the key messages that we, as Swiss water community want to transmit to the audience, rather than having a dense program at the booth, which poorly visited (quality before quantity).

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  • The Swiss Events (Swiss Reception at the booth and the high-level political Dinner-Discussion at the Residence of the Ambassador) were both appreciated by the audience, very popular and well attended, same as in the past.
  • Special event: The exclusive SWP high-level event in collaboration with the Swiss Embassy in Stockholm as well as the Geneva Water Hub and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation was well attended with over 70 people. Thanks to the unique collaboration with the Swiss Embassy in Stockholm, the private dinner-discussion with high level speakers (water ministers and experts from different regions of the world) was a success. It created increased political awareness on the challenges faced in securing access to basic water related services due to violence in conflict zones or when hosting population fleeing violence in neighbouring countries, and it underlined the importance of water as an instrument for dialogue and peace.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  • The Swiss water expertise was shared prominently at the daily sessions with an average of 11 events per day where SWP members were involved. Out of the 70 SWP members, over 20 participated in this year’s WWW. In total, over 50% of all sessions during the WWW involved a SWP member. It was also mentioned that in The SWP co-convened one session (“Addressing discrimination and neglect in WASH: An uncomfortable conversation”) and received very positive feedback related to the content: it was perceived very specific, “unconformable”, honest, authentic and high quality. It was live streamed and can be accessed here part 1; part 2; read the summary of the event here). Read the conclusion of the event here.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

  • Innovation: Some aspects that were used to increase the innovative approach were 1) to go as paperless as possible (business cards with QR codes) through the reduction of print material, 2) the achievement of the Gold Standard for the SWP session (min. 40% of women; min. 1 young professional for each seminar), and 3) daily interactive sessions at the booth (intergenerational dialogues, youth platform, film screening).

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  • The topic of youth was very present – during the conference itself but also in this years’ Swiss program. This trend is a positive development, despite there is a danger that youth can be instrumentalized or that as a young person it remains a challenge to really change things and be more disruptive. Further, there is also still exclusion form youth around the world. While last year, the SWP focused mainly on the Swiss Junior Water Prize, this years’ activities were more diverse: The Youth scientific expedition from glaciers to Aral (SDC funded program) allowed the Central Asia Youth for Water Network to present its documentary on IWRM and Climate Change. The Geneva Water Hub organized intergenerational water talks (between senior and junior experts) at the booth and cewas gave the stage to young entrepreneurs from all over the world. Further, the SWP member Skat sponsored a young professional from Sierra Leone to attend the conference. The SWP held a session at the SIWI young professional’s booth aiming at presenting the youth strategy and strengthen its network with other youth groups/young professionals. The youth led organizations such as WYPW and the Young Water Solutions, which are linked to SWP partner International Secretariat for Water, were key actors at the SWP Booth but also created noise during the conference. The Swiss Junior representant, Zamir (SJWP Winner 2019) had a dense daily schedule ranging from project presentations in front of a jury to sightseeing and he proudly represented Switzerland in the international final for the Junior Water Prize. All his activities were well coordinated by the Swiss Toilet Organization.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  • Strategic meetings: The strategic meetings are key and were fruitful this year. The SWP has strengthened its relationship with ADB, the WB and national water partnerships, connected through the NowNet platform. All partners expressed their interest to deepen the collaboration for 2020 – especially the Dutch, French, Global and German Water Partnership. The World Bank is generally interested in the SWP study tour offer but a specific entry point needs to be found. Further, the ADB confirmed a study visit for summer 2020. The planning process will start in January 2020. These development show that there is high interest in the Swiss expertise by international key sector actors.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  • The word “Blue Peace” (standing for hydrodiplomacy/hydropolitics) was the buzz-word and even mentioned at the closing plenary. Most Swiss events were centered around this topic, which created a nice red thread thorough the week that could be picked up easily by the audience. Besides hydropolitics, the word “transboundary” and “Water Stewardship” were key words.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  • Media/Social Media: The SWP members’ dynamic activities attracted a lot of attention and a SWP partner landed on the front page of the official daily newspaper “the Water Front Daily” (Antonella Vagliente, Young Water Solutions). The Swiss Junior Water Prize Winner 2019 Zamir Borojevic was featured in the Swiss local newspaper “Aargauer Zeitung” (access article here). Further, the SWP session on Addressing Discrimination and Neglect in WASH, an uncomfortable conversation was live streamed and can be accessed here part 1; part 2. A summary of the event is accessible Further, during the whole week the SWP events were mostly announced with a teaser through Twitter and Facebook.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  • The overarching conclusions form the Swedish organizers can be accessed here.

>>>>>>>>  Access the full report HERE. <<<<<<<<<<

This is what Stockholm Junior Water Prize is about!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year, tens of thousands of brilliant young minds around the world develop astonishing innovations to tackle today´s water challenges. The winners of their national competitions come together for the finals of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize during the World Water Week.

The Swiss Water Partnership and the Swiss Toilet Organisation have joined forces to carry out the Swiss Junior Water Prize since 2017, entitling the winners to represent Switzerland in the international contest in Stockholm, in a week full of unforgettable emotions.

Meet the 56 finalists of 2019 and learn more about this inspirational event in the video here.

THE WATER DIPLOMAT

 

Launch of The Water Diplomat Media Platform

Media engagement is instrumental to raise awareness on water issues. However, to date, there is no media platform centralising and organising hydropolitical information in a consistent manner at a global level. The degree of complexity related to water issues further requires expertise in identifying and following the issues at stake and communicating on their evolution.

In a move to bridge the gap on hydropolitical information and trigger the interest of the public and the media, the Geneva Water Hub and OOSKAnews, the world’s leading publisher of current international water news, jointly launched a global media platform entitled The Water Diplomat, a free monthly news and intelligence resource specialised in hydropolitics. The media platform builds upon the work of the Global High Level Panel on Water & Peace, that produced in 2017 the milestone report A Matter of Survival, by providing news pertaining to the various themes of the Panel’s report. It also offers in-depth analysis of experts through videocast interviews. The Water Diplomat project thus pursued the goal of promoting access to political stakes of water management that are making news around the world. It is aimed at any water professional, researcher, politician, diplomat, communication specialist, citizen wishing to learn about hydropolitics news. It serves as an intermediate source of information for national and local media interested in providing news in this area of expertise.

This new media platform has been launched during World Water Week 2019 in Stockholm at the Swiss Booth in the frame of a session on intergenerational dialogue on Water and Peace convened by the Geneva Water Hub, the International Secretariat for Water and OOSKAnews. Further, it has been promoted through an event at the Geneva Press Club with a panel composed of Dr. Danilo Türk, Chair of the Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace, Mr. François Münger, Director General of the Geneva Water Hub, Mr. Johan Gély, Head of SDC Global Water Programme, Mr. David Duncan, Executive Director of OOSKAnews and Mr. Dagim Gesese Terefe, Freelance Journalist and Global Goodwill Ambassador for Ethiopia. Panellists of this press conference, accessible online, highlighted the crucial need to mainstream water challenges in the media as well as the role that journalists may endorse in order to inform the public and contribute to the de-escalation of likely tensions aroused from water resource competition. There are also many positive steps taken in the water domain that would benefit from more media coverage with the aim to provide more visibility to the Blue Peace movement and actors working towards peace and cooperation.

The Geneva Water Hub and its partners warmly invites all SWP members and readers of its publications to subscribe to The Water Diplomat and its free monthly newsletter.

****************************************************************************************************

Please find here the PDF.

 

World Water Camp - Call for Masterstudents

To all the Young Water Experts, check out the opportunity to join the World Water Camp 2020!

The VIA University College of Denmark and a number of Danish sponsors have gone together to create a possibility for 50 students from all over the world to win a fully paid trip to Denmark in connection to the IEA World Water Congress. The visit will include dedicated training and access to the exhibition and technical conference and tours. The students must apply for one of the 50 seats.

Further information:

The deadline for application: 15th January 2020.

Contact: Jesper Goodley Dannisøe, Director, Danish Water Forum. Email: jda@dhigroup.com