UN Water Conference: Youth delegation advocates for a water-wise future

On 20-24 March 2023, the Youth Action for SDG6 Delegation, thanks to the support of the International Water Association (IWA) and Grundfos, attended the UN Water Conference in New York and actively participated in a wide range of events as an opportunity to advocate for a water-wise future. The youth delegation was made up of the 14 individuals selected for the joint IWA-Grundfos Youth Action for SDG6 Fellowship. Under this initiative, these young water professionals are taking part in a special programme of activities, a highlight of which is active participation at the UN Water Conference.

The fruitful week was packed with sessions, meetings, and dialogues where the delegation was able to contribute with ideas and solutions related to different challenges in the water sector. During this once in a lifetime opportunity, the youth delegates were able to successfully engage in discussions arguing for a water-wise future. They spoke to world leaders, met their peers, and advocated for a meaningful engagement of young water professionals in different arenas. Through their diverse backgrounds and experiences, they supported underrepresented voices and perspectives in a bid to empower the most vulnerable in the water dialogue.

Krithika Iyer Shivakumar, Youth Action delegate from India, commented: “I'm leaving New York City with a lot of learnings, hope, and commitment to take actions to safeguard our water. Through this experience at the UN Water Conference, I had the privilege to meet global leaders demonstrating thought leadership coming forward to forge lasting partnerships with young people and the marginalised at the heart of solutions.”

The youth delegates took part in an official side event organised by IWA on cross-sectoral partnerships held on 22 March. Among the youth delegates, Chelsea Hayward moderated the event, while Jacob Amengor and Farokh Kakar acted as rapporteurs. The event saw a highly engaged dialogue among representatives from NGOs and the public and private sectors on securing inclusive urban sanitation globally. High-profile speakers included IWA Executive Director Kala Vairavamoorthy, Grundfos Director of Water Sustainability Virginia Newton-Lewis, and Brian Arbogast from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

IWA and Grundfos’ wider involvement at the UN Water Conference in New York contributed towards cross-sectoral and intergenerational partnerships that maximise the benefits of integrating young professionals in the water sector to achieve sustainable development. The conference outcomes and the experience of the Youth Action for SDG6 delegates will be used as inputs for a joint IWA-Grundfos publication, expected later in 2023, on the critical role that youth engagement plays in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

Reflecting on the busy week in New York, Inês Breda, Youth Action delegate based in Denmark added: “Poul Due Jensen (Grundfos CEO) and Kala Vairavamoorthy (IWA Executive Director) showed a perfect alignment on the role of youth for the future of water, and all Youth Action for SDG6 fellows felt empowered. The UN Water Conference was also the ideal moment for us to recognise that our work will not end this week, this is simply the start of a wave of actions.”

Stay tuned and keep following IWA and Grundfos for more updates. #YouthActionforSDG6