Blog by Rasha Hassan

2020 has been a year like no other. While most offices were deserted and strict lockdowns were imposed in most cities worldwide, virtual reality has been the main dominator. Tremendous financial losses, health challenges, as well as social ramifications were influencing humanity during this year. Thus, we need to pause and reflect on the 2020 tough experience to have an epiphany and recognize the highlights and the key learnings. In this piece, allow me to walk you through some highlights.

The first highlight of the horizon of 2020 has been the key role of WASH in our life. Water and hygiene have been the first defence-line against COVID-19. This fact showed the vulnerability of developing countries in delivering these services to their people, so this asserts the vital demand to develop this reality and move forward. Achieving the Goal (6) of the Sustainable Development Goals should be a priority in the governmental agenda around the world with the supervision of the international community in 2021. Moreover, recognizing the Water’s interlinkages with human’s health is increasingly becoming an inevitable need to tackle the global complexities imposed by the Corona Pandemic. A determined structure that highlights the strong Water-Health tie and emphasizes the enormous impacts that water mismanagement and the lack of sanitation facilities have, is becoming seriously crucial like never before. An example of such structure is the UNECE Protocol on Water and Health.

Acknowledging youth as a capital is another highlight of 2020. Millennial and Gen Z have played a key role due to their digital skills and their quick adaptation to the new norms. Most companies relied on their youth staff in the beginning of the pandemic to start the digitization process in their structure. Moreover, youth leadership has been demonstrated throughout 2020 as many young individuals and youth organizations took the initiative to organize events virtually and engage with other youth by taking advantage of their skills in the virtual world.  Despite these facts, many young professionals in this sector lost their jobs or shifted their career to something entirely different and far from their interest. Hence, analyzing this new reality is imperative. Also, the demand of finding a more engaging environment and opportunities for youth should be delineated and highlighted by decision makers and the international organizations.

Accessibility to knowledge has been easier than ever which is an added and surprising value to 2020. Shifting to online events gave the opportunity to disseminate knowledge by offering free webinars and workshops. This environment of globally outreaching knowledge enables young researchers and professionals from developing countries to enrol and participate in events that happen in developed countries. Thus, we need to think on how to maintain this positive outcome and embark on a more engaging roadmap in this aspect.

The water sector has entered the digitalization mode, so any young professional’s CV should strongly depict the digital and interpersonal skills of performing in the virtual world. Furthermore, we need to acknowledge the fact that the competition for jobs is going to be harder in the environment of limited numbers of vacancies. Josh’s Water Jobs is a perfect example on how the job vacancies have dropped significantly during the third and fourth quarter of 2020. Thus, be ready for this scenario and develop your CV by adding new skills related to this new era before the spring of 2021.

The significance of equality is a major lesson that we should learn from this experience. 2020 has shedded the light on some sensitive issues and showed the vulnerability of many societies. Thus, we should not leave this year behind without some key learnings from the different things that we have encountered in 2020. An example is the youth of color who have been marginalized for a long time and 2020 gave them the voice to express years of silence. Moreover, many women throughout the globe and from different age groups faced many challenges and risks during the lockdowns. Many incidents have been recorded worldwide but no exact statistics or assessment for now.  Thus, gender equality should be at the top of the agenda of not only each country but also the central concern of the international and civil society organizations. In addition, recruiting and opening up on youth from any nationality or color is a priority to create balance in the following years.

Finally, the key role of empathy in leading. Leaders, who have depended on empathy and understanding of the 2020 conditions in dealing with their teams, delivered productivity and stability for their employees in 2020. Unfortunately, the world needed 2020 to remind all of us that we are humans in the end, so we need to slow down, and understand not only each other’s different needs but also the Earth’s requirements for balance.