Thinking out of the box. This is something that is expected of young people. Bringing new ideas to the table. This is also something that we were forced to do. Our ideas were challenged by each others’ sharp minds, different experiences, opinions and education.
In the young water leaders summit we came together: 32 people from 80 countries. The group of young water professionals existed of students, young professionals, scientists, consultants, policy makers and private sector representatives. In a couple of days, we became very close. We have created a natural network among each other, based on mutual respect, trust, and fun. Hopefully, we will be able to explain this experience to our colleagues, family and friends, and to pass on the lessons learned.
As a young leader, this group inspired me greatly, in the following ways:
- It was great to have the chance to integrate in the general programme, and learn from the (senior) professionals and decision makers
- It was great to have the chance to get to know all the different young water leaders from all around the world. This gives us the chance to:
- build our networks
- learn from each other’s professional background
- learn about each other’s country situation and personal experiences. This allows us to compare our experiences and challenge our ideas about the world
On our future
“You don’t have to be ashamed to be green”, emphasised Mr Gurria (OECD). On the other hand, calling for a greener world is soon connected to activism. This sometimes is linked to negative reactions.
More and more we understand that we have to act. Everybody thinks it is great to live in a green environment, where you can easily breath, where the air and water are clean, and where nature is available to everybody. However, as society we keep making the wrong choices: we go for the quick win and easy solutions. How can we overcome this? It’s a question that needs a lot of thought, but even more action. And not only from the youth, but especially from the decision makers: both in government, businesses, and at home.
A youth participant reflected: With an A-plan, and a B-team, you don’t come far. With a B-plan, and an A-team, you can conquer the world. I think we have enough A-plans. As young people, we are doing our best to create many A-teams, in cooperation with visionary senior professionals. The cooperation, exchange and learning continues…
The main lesson learned
Crossing gaps between different parts of the (water) sector contributes immensely to our thinking- and implementing power. Staying, or becoming, interested in each others work, thoughts and language is really important. A small start could be to begin yourself to cross this gap. I’m starting to do this by trying to learn something new about another profession every day. What is your plan?