Young Water Leader’s Experience – Shawn Seah

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Water Security For The Future, Water and Sanitation, Water Stewardship

It was a grueling three full days of conference during the inaugural young water leaders summit; I felt that it was a fulfilling moment to exchange ideas across the tables. Water plays a big role in our daily lifestyle, using it for our sanitation and enjoying it for our leisure activities such as canoeing. However, many of us in the developed countries take access to water for granted. After some of the sessions discussed during the water leaders summit I have  contemplated on the issue on water security and how vulnerable we can be if we do not have a stable water security.

After giving some thoughts onto it, I have concluded that water security is the main key issue that many countries face and I feel that by strengthen the area on water security will help solve many problems. Even though water security sounds like a big topic, I feel that it having a strong water security for the future is dependent on the youths. As mentioned during the dialogue with Ms Grace Fu, 2nd Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, ‘youth can make the change for the future and always start with a small effort’. I feel that as youths who are well educated, we can empower our communities with the right knowledge on water conservation skills and teaching them the importance of reducing their water footprint through dialogue sessions or via social media. With these small initiatives, the local water demand can be reduce significantly.

In addition, I also felt that water security will be a very important and apt topic for Singapore to focus on as we have no natural resources and we also lack the land space to harvest rainwater resulting in a limited amount of water storage capability. Not forgetting that we have the water agreement with Johor, which will expire in 2061. Hence, I feel that having a strong water security in Singapore is definitely a crucial agenda that needs to be address immediately.

According to the UN Millennium Development Goals- access to improved drinking water and sanitation facilities still persist around the world and is an uphill task to tackle. After hearing one of the YWLS sessions, everyone can contribute to help solve the problem of lack of proper drinking water and proper sanitation. Some of the youth delegates have shared their experiences in their projects. For instance, some youths from the Water Youth Network had a project, which they have come up with funding for country to construct a communal toilet for the people to have better sanitation facilities.

I felt that these small little efforts do make it count and it will also help improve the livelihood of people. Also through the in-depth that we have amongst the delegates, some youths have suggested that educating the community about proper sanitation is important and public defecation is not a healthy option to head for. One of the delegates also highlighted that making ‘pooping’a fun experience for children will encourage them to use proper sanitation facilities in future. I felt that such ideas are innovative and can anchored by the youth and the success is also measurable.

Secondly, having access to potable water is also a necessity for many and during the summit I have met youths who have entrepreneur ideas, which can help provide potable water for many developing nations. And these youths applied their skills they learnt during their academic years to help solve the problem of providing potable water. Also it is delightful to know that after all the works done by NGOs and government throughout the years. According to UNDP, 89% of the global population used improved drinking water sources and 64% of the global population used improved sanitation facilities. I also felt that with such efforts in place by the youths, the percentage could be further improved over the years.

Lastly after all the sessions and discussions, I would like to share 3 acronyms that will help the youth in their work. ‘T-W-O’. First ‘T’- To always take charge of the problem they see and try to find a solution to it. Second, ‘W’- Walk the talk. Always be down on the ground to see the problem and assess how can it be better managed. Which also mean do what you preach. And lastly ‘O’- Own the outcome. Which is to own the final product of the work and share the best practices around, so everyone can make a change.

By Shawn Seah
Republic of Singapore

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