Encouraging Youth Participation in Climate Adaptation: European Youth in Action
On 29th April 2021, Youth for the Rhine held its first online webinar on “Encouraging Youth Participation for Climate Adaptation: EU Youth in Action”. Over 45 people, from various youth organizations came together seeking for a common outcome: Youth led initiatives – Need of the Hour!
Youth-led initiatives are the need of the hour - in understanding, involving, innovating, valuing, and preserving the available resources around us. Intergenerational collaboration is the key in driving change from local action to global impact.
ABCD co-creation model stands for the four energy paths that emphasizes that reality exists in conjunction with the four powers - ‘’Administrative/Political; Business/Finance; Civil Service/Knowledge; Demos/Devoted Citizens’’ and innovation occurs when they cooperate well.
Technologies are instrumental in solving the problems in climate resilient water management, however, including youth - led citizen science/ participatory approaches help us in building a smart and sustainable future.
Mobilizing youth within climate and water action needs to happen at a younger age - in schools and colleges, in a way that they are aware of all the ongoing conversations in this space. Capacity building, training, competitions, mentoring, partnerships, and funding opportunities are vital in bridging the gap between science, policy making and practice.
The webinar consisted of three sections: a panel discussion, a case study presentation, and an interactive breakout session. The event was organized in collaboration with partner organizations Water Youth Network (WYN), European Youth Parliament for Water (EYPW), Rising Smart Water Professionals (RiSWP) and European Junior Water Program (EJWP).
The panel discussion was moderated by Ms. Viviana Franco. Emilie Broek (former project manager, Youth for the Rhine) introduced the organization and indicated how the opportunity to lead the project at a young age, as well as the value of intergenerational collaboration has been enabled by the project. Naomi Timmer, representing EJWP, spoke about the interdisciplinary nature of water discussions and how participation from youth was important in developing strategies for the Rhine. Ad de Rooj, advisor to the project and an expert in co-creation strategies, explained the ABCD model - ‘’Administrative/Political; Business/Finance; Civil Service/Knowledge; Demos/Devoted Citizens’’, and highlighted the importance of involving the public and the youth – who will be the end users in the long run, in the development and implementation of projects through co-creation model.
Case Studies on water Quality Monitoring
The students from the Université Montpellier presented their work on water quality monitoring on the Rhine that was conducted in Summer 2020. The case study presentation was moderated by Helea-Khaizourane, representing the Montpellier UNESCO Chair SIMEV, where a video showcasing scientific youth engagement from students of the Montpellier Master Erasmus Mundus in Membrane Engineering for a Sustainable World was shown, coupled with a brief interaction with the students.
The students involved expressed their desire to contribute to real life challenges and how their master’s study could be applied for innovative solutions.
In the final segment, the group was randomly divided into four breakout sessions, each being facilitated by representatives from WYN, EYPW, RiSWP and EJWP. The exercise was conducted to evoke conversations and discussions around youth involvement in Rhine that was facilitated by our different partner organizations.
The first working group facilitated by Maitreyi synthesized how incremental goals can lead to maintaining the interest of stakeholders and the youth, as opposed to focusing solely on long-term goals that may be difficult to notice progress in the immediate future. More points from WYN – Maitreyi Koduganti:
Multiple challenges impede climate action amidst young people, such as not being aware of the context, lack of sustained passion and interest, power dynamics and bureaucracy within climate action and many more. For many young professionals, especially in developing countries seeking livelihood and employment opportunities holds more importance than thinking about environmental action.
To overcome these challenges, the following tangible actions were discussed:
Mobilizing youth within climate and water action needs to happen at a younger age - in schools and colleges, in a way that they are aware of all the ongoing conversations in this space.
A clear vision, in the form of incremental goals becomes very important to sustain passion for the project or action.
Since livelihood is a major concern, initiatives to link livelihoods and create business opportunities can be thought through, like reusing plastics to create eco-friendly products, etc.
The second group facilitated by Lisa highlighted the need to translate science into practice. More points from RiSWP – Lisa Andrews:
Many different challenges exist, however, the value of water is not always there.
Main challenges include awareness raising, bringing science into practice
Need a starting point to present issues and wake up to the reality, i.e. starting a conversation -that allows people to reflect and take action.
Awareness is very important. It does not matter if you are a water-professional or not, it’s about awareness, valuing water, recognising the importance of water.
Plenty of solutions, depending on the position - citizen, professional, expert - we need an expert to tell us (citizens) what to do and how to help and take-action.
Innovate with water reuse; New technologies are needed for monitoring, but these might be hard to implement in real life. Hence, there is a need to bridge science to practice
Supporting young water professionals and bringing youth solutions into the forefront, taking youth into account in decision-making - African perspective, Cameroon
Some additional insights from the second working group:
Aditya: Master's thesis on groundwater, groundwater in the Himalayas is drying up due to climate change, changing rainfall patterns - many concerns, 80% of communities in Himalayas are dependent on this water
Yekaterina: In Kazakhstan, there are not many rivers or lakes, and those that there are, water levels are getting lower, people are not aware of the problems, no action from youth or organizations - not much concern
Inma: In Spain - main problems, coastal and center of the country - water issues, begins to be a big problem, political issues, and complex
The third group led by Stas suggested making competitions or funding opportunities more easily available to incentivize the youth to engage more in the discussions around Rhine. More points from EYPW – Stats Peters & Hasmik Barseghyan:
Showcase impact of participation and action
Create opportunities e.g., through competition
Funding, mentoring, data availability
The fourth group led by Naomi highlighted the need to train and raise awareness of the youth through programs in school curriculums to have them more actively involved in social causes. Key highlights from EJWP – Naomi Timmer.
Holding space for youth
Capacity development, training, encouragement
Get Schools and Teachers involved
Breakout session result (fourth working group) utilizing MIR
A total of 60 participants registered for the event and some participants through feedback form reported enjoying the breakout sessions the most and the importance of engaging youth in policy discussions. We extend heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated and as well as the organizations that contributed:
WYN - Water Youth Network
EJWP - European Junior Water Programme
EYPW - European Youth Parliament for Water
World Youth Parliament for Water
Central Asia Youth for Water
RiSWP - Rising Smart Water Professionals
This is an initial step into our process of cooperation. We would like to leverage this networking opportunity to explore more ways of co-creating an active dialogue for mobilizing youth in water and climate action. Thus, we intend to improve in developing the next phase of consultation and collaboration for a meaningful common output.
Session Chair, Blog Support team