IWA YWP: A Network – Strong During Crisis Times
A network demonstrates its strength during crisis times
How an international conference and a global pandemic drives collaboration in youth networks and beyond
Amazing things can happen when people bring something else to the table other than “normally, we do this and that…”.
At IWA YWP Denmark, we have a place for everyone who wants to take part, and we continuously grow and reshape ourselves through the ideas and engagement of members. The Young Water Professionals (YWP) of the International Water Association (IWA) is a network for students and people in their early career.
The network was officially created in 2004, and the Danish IWA YWP chapter was formed in 2014. Establishing and maintaining such a national network is not as easy as it might look, especially when the IWA YWP efforts most often have to be placed after work hours and without former training in how to sustain a network. But that is also the beauty of being an active member that runs the network and let it flourish.
There is so much to be learned that you are not taught in your everyday job – and so much support from fellow IWA YWPs, if you reach out. The YWP network is both a courageous and safe space to explore ideas, and the road from thought to execution is extremely short, if you have the passion to carry it out.
IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition – the megaphone
Here, six years after the foundation of the IWA YWP Denmark, we are 300 members spread all across the country and we represent an important, and acknowledged, voice in the Danish water sector. The preparation for the IWA #WorldWaterCongress & Exhibition in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May 2021 has worked as a megaphone through which YWP Denmark has made our network more known. Equally, it has been a platform from where we have been able to show that we will, and can, bring important aspects, new ideas and refreshing energy to the table.
We can only encourage other nations to similarly include the young voice in their national debates and initiatives. The enhanced collaboration not only holds true at a national level. Being part of an international conference with YWP specific content as well as YWPs in the programme and steering committees naturally paves the way to international interaction between fellow YWPs.
Today, we have a strong collaboration with especially our Nordic counterparts with who we, for example, plan activities for the Danish and Nordic stands at the conference. We are also planning workshops for the conference with IWA YWPs from the Philippines, Ghana and South Africa, and have generally developed tighter bonds with the chapters in Spain, Canada and the UK.
A global outbreak leads to a global YWP outreach
Then came Covid-19. Needless to say, this changed how we act as an IWA YWP chapter. How does a network, thriving of the energy from face-to-face interactions and development of ideas, remain active – and attractive? This question has forced us to rethink how we plan and do events. In YWP Denmark, the solution was more online content. Are we mastering this fully yet? Maybe not, but we are on our way!
Online content has a positive side effect – we can make our events available to an international crowd of IWA YWPs and beyond. We have already held successful webinars on groundwater and about how it is to work in the water sector – both with international participants – and more online events are on the drawing board.
The global pandemic has certainly kick-started our transition to more global outreach, and we believe it is here to stay. This transformation also goes hand in hand with our worldview – global issues require global collaboration fostered by global communication. Communication, which can be facilitated, for example, through the YWP network.
Bruce Lee encouraged people to ‘be like water’. With this, he meant that people should strive to be open-minded and capable of adapting to different situations.
If someone is ‘like water’, I believe it must be the IWA Young Water Professionals.