Young Water Leader’s Experience – Toh Xinyi Cindi

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The sessions for water security for the future gave a broad overview on the pressing water issues that several nations face due to supply and demand side water management, community driven risk management and awareness just to name a few. After being first shown the positive or negative relationships that one factor has on another, the complexity of the entire water security management was actually a little overwhelming. The smaller group discussions that we had later then channeled our ideas into more specific aspects of the big picture. Considering the fact that we took less than an hour for our discussion and felt that it wasn’t even enough, it highlights the need for longer and even more in depth deliberation to come up with a more detailed action plan. During our discussion we also covered some other missing factors and links that were not covered in the standard model; which exemplifies the idea that we have to consider various other external factors like culture in every different context.

The next session on Water Sanitation gave me insights on what other less wealthy Asian countries may be facing regarding a lack of proper sanitation. Being a Singaporean, this session has allowed me to think beyond the scope of my country and consider possibilities of passing on the Singapore cleaning up story to the other countries currently facing similar issues as Singapore did after independence.

The last YWLS session on Water Stewardship answered the question on what responsible management of water resource means to be a water steward. During the group discussion, it was helpful that Mr Norman Cheng of SWIRE Waste Management went around the groups to give us opinions and suggestions; that made our discussion more focused and we had the guidance of a senior management who had experience with good water stewardship practices in his organisation. It made me think about the possibility of incorporating proper water stewardship in several networks and sectors, and the idea that water stewardship could bring about benefits to various stakeholders was evident.

Being an undergraduate now, I hope these discussions can spearhead my future career pathway in the future. Even if I decide not specialize in the water sector, these lessons on considering the big picture, thinking of situations in other geographical regions or countries, and proper water (or resource) stewardship will be etched in my mind and will be pushed forth in the best of my ability.

Mr Michael Ma of IndoChine group was an effective and engaging speaker during the Water Professionals Panel. He spoke about how he, despite difficulties as a refugee, managed to set up a successful chain of restaurants and bars that promotes conservation and environmental friendliness. This influential man has given the seed of hope in me that it is possible to balance environmental sustainability with business profit. It is actually in fact an essential factor to sustain a business. By involving such practices, a business could also even gain an edge over its competitors, which is very heartening to hear given that most think there is great cost in committing to such green business practices.

In all the YWLS has given me much insight in the water (and broad environment) industry: the big issues, the need for proper stewardship, views from different stakeholders. It has been a very meaningful experience and friendships forged here with the other awesome youth delegates would last a lifetime!

Insight piece

After hearing more on other water issues, I feel blessed to be in Singapore where clean water is accessible and relatively affordable. It is heartening to see the interest many have for water; more evidently, the inaugural Youth Water Leaders Summit indicates increasing recognition of youths’ role in effecting positive change in the water and broad environmental sector.

By Toh Xinyi Cindi (Singapore)

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