How can we empower Young Water Professionals?

How can we empower Young Water Professionals? This question was raised during an event  discussing how water reuse can become a more common practice for drinking water purposes around the world. Education, collaboration and dialogue have been identified as key factors to drive innovation, sustainability and cooperation.  ‘Building Bridges’ is an encompassing platform which enables young professionals to share their knowledge, learn from peers and adopt solutions for a water-wise future.

‘Building Bridges’ event series facilitates international exchange between Young Water Professionals

Bilateral dialogue meetings kicked off in July 2020, when Young Water Processionals (YWP) from IWA’s Germany YWP Chapter decided to create an online event series to enable bilateral exchange between YWPs. In a first kick-off event, the Head of International Cooperation and Training of the German Water Association (‘DWA’) spoke to a global audience of approximately 30 participants, presenting international and water related career opportunities, capacity building programmes and providing an introduction to big names and leaders in the international water scene.

Following this successful event, Germany’s IWA YWP Steering Committee reached out to global partners regarding the launch of an official online platform for collaboration. As such, the Building Bridges event series was born as a tool to enable international connections while facilitating bilateral dialogue between YWPs in early September 2020.

Germany’s YWP meet with young professionals from Australia and The Netherlands

On 21 October 2020, the IWA Germany YWP Chapter, together with the IWA Australia YWP Chapter, held the first virtual bilateral dialogue of the Building Bridges series. Young professionals from Australia and Germany came together to discuss Water Reuse. Benefits of agricultural reuse as well as issues of stigmatisation regarding purified recycled water for drinking purposes were explored.

In a third meeting on 12 February 2021, YWPs from Germany and The Netherlands connected over the topic of Nature-based Urban Drainage solutions and implementations. Dutch guest speakers provided an overview on initiatives enhancing urban climate resilience and offered insights on the use of bioswales as a practical solution in the Netherlands. Germany’s presenter specifically outlined opportunities to incorporate tree pits in multifunctional, urban streetscapes, and highlighted that tree pits are one piece of a great puzzle when it comes to combating impacts caused by climate change. With approx. 65 participants attending, the conversation was set in context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) spelling out the need to improve environmental and human wellbeing.

The latest get-together was held online on 9 April 2021. Young professionals from Denmark and Germany discussed the national status quo in each country and subsequently further efforts needed to work towards Carbon Neutrality in the Water Sector. All participants agreed that incentives are required to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions, such as nitrous oxide (N2O).

Looking ahead

We strongly encourage Young Water Professional Chapters to organise their own Building Bridges event. We can provide support to organise the event – from deciding the theme/project, to enabling international connections between YWPs across borders. If you would like to be involved or want to create your Building Bridges event, do not hesitate to reach out! You can find more details and invitations to future events on IWA Connect.

Building Bridges Initiators – IWA YWP Germany & Young DWA
(Lisa Bross, Hagimar von Ditfurth, Philippe Ader, Jens Jensen)