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.
Future Water Leaders (FWL) are independent young water professionals from all over the world who feel the urge to contribute to international events where they can make an impact. All of them are specialized in themes that are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
The next Future Water Leaders Ambassador: Eleanor Treadwell
During the plenary closing, the former Future Water Leaders Ambassador of the Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW) Chrysoula Papcharalampou, presented her successor. We are very happy and proud to have Eleanor Treadwell on board as the New Youth Ambassador!
Objectives for the next 5 years
Within 5 years time Future Water Leaders strives to become a prominent youth platform where decision makers are actively involved. Through combined networks they’ll be able to implement solutions to reach the SDG’s. The Future Water Leaders collaborate world wide, in such a way that they will be able to hand over their work to generations to come.
Public AIWW event Sunday 3 November
Prior to the Amsterdam International Water Week 2019 programme, Future Water Leaders have organised and coordinated a public event in Amsterdam, on 3 November. The event included a series of exciting activities, meant to engage not just water professionals, but also to the citizens and tourists of Amsterdam. The aim of the event was dual: to raise awareness about water and to show the importance of AIWW as an international water event and conference. Different locations across the city of Amsterdam (mainly in the city centre) hosted the awareness activities.
The concept of ‘Water Identity’ was introduced by the Future Water Leaders Ambassador Chrysoula Papacharalampou, during her keynote speech at the AIWW Summit 2018. The concept combines personal elements (e.g. culture, background, ethnicity etc.) with the professional ambition/interest of the water professionals. The latter is defined through the four themes of Water Security, as defined by the United Nations. During the Summit, Water Identity cards were filled in by the attending professionals. The data gathered will be used in the preparation of a project to communicate across major water events worldwide and to present outcomes during the AIWW 2019.
The aim of the Water Identity is dual:
- by focusing on a combination of personal heritage and professional interest, we are able to understand what shapes us as water professionals, define our common motives and goals and, finally, connect through sharing;
- by using a simple form to communicate who we are, our community can have an understanding of the current status of the field (in terms of available expertise), therefore allow for identifying the missing links for a water secure world.
From a broad perspective, focusing on water heritage and expertise profiles across the world will enable the water professionals community to obtain a broad picture of the ways water may shape a region, a country, a civilisation, everyday practices and customs. This cross-cultural exchange would aim to improve the understanding of water identities as they are shaped across time and space scales. It will also inform discussions for the lessons learnt and transferred across countries and continents, serving as a vehicle towards the goals of: effective collaboration and water security.