July 7, 2020 SDGs

Where Young Water Professionals meet – online Get-Together

The current global health situation has led us into new forms of working together as well as meeting each other. The IWA is the network of water professionals who wish to engage with each other and exchange professional and sector experiences and challenges. In 2020 the Association has developed its online engagement further for its members to experience and benefit from the rich and diverse network. Online is the current alternative to face-to-face meeting. Engaging with peers has become a digital journey. To get together is no longer a question of physical travel and analogy visits.

The IWA Emerging Water Leaders Steering Committee invited the members of the IWA Young Water Professionals to take the momentum and gather online as a group, meet peers and exchange ideas on relevant matters to their life as emerging water professional and for the water sector, and beyond. A new online meeting format has been created and the first edition dedicated the discussions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): IWA YWP Get-Together.

This digital Get-Together invited members of the IWA Young Water Professionals group. 56 participants from 28 countries met, discussed, exchanged knowledge and shared experiences. The discussion was moderated by Emily Ryan (Sydney Water, Australia) and Arlinda Ibrahimllari (UKKO JSC, Albania). On the panel:  Charity Supeyo (Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company, Kenya), Kathryn Silvester (Senior Planner at Sydney Water, Auwerestralia), Randolf Webb (Global Partnerships & Branding – Xylem Inc., Switzerland), and Yang Villa (The Isle Utilities Asia-Pacific, Philippines). They shared their insights on the SDGs round on the following thematic questions:


How did you first learn about SDGs and what was your “turning point”?

Kathryn Silvester stated that she first learned about the SDGs through her involvement with IWA at the Strategic Council meeting. A canceled brainstorming session on how to reach the SDG, made her see the relation between the Global Goals and her professional life. .  “I was furious,” she revealed. “Yes, people support the SDGs but the challenge is working out how to do it and we missed a really big opportunity to try and work that out”. She felt motivated to initiate change and decided to take organise a pub gathering with a group of Young Water Professionals. The result is impressive – they found the IWA Sustainable Development Goals Task Force.

Charity Supeyo from Kenya revealed that in her homeland only 2/5 of the population has access to safe water and sanitation services. The population is sensitive to the topic and Charity already learned about the SDGs in school. She admitted, “I just appreciated knowing that there is a group of people who were ready to make the world a better place”. . When she incorporated into the Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company (NCWSC), the Sustainable Development Goals became tangible to her and the SDGs gained significant meaning to her.

Yang Villa shared that as a young professional in the water sector, his work had been relevant to water access. Nonetheless, in his perception, the idea of the SDGs was quite distant and related mainly to politicians, decision-makers, investors, and people working in the business industry. “It was in 2016 when I attended The Public Consultation meeting in Baguio City, where multiple stakeholders invited representatives of various sectors, including urban poor and marginalised communities. (…) Listening to them was very moving to me”.  At that moment, Yang realised that SDGs are in fact truly important with everyone’s responsibility to take action. His turning point was the SDG 6.B, which stands for stakeholder participation, which includes and embraces local communities.

Randolf Webb stated, “I first learned of the SDGs in 2011… I was still young and bright-eyed and found it fascinating that these goals could collate the world together towards specific goals, and although I didn’t know at the time what role I could play nor how best to get directly involved, I knew that I wanted my work to be at least aligned with these aims”. Currently representing Xylem Inc. and Manchester City Football Club, Randolf became an integral part of launching an innovative purpose-driven partnership in July 2018 to “challenge water complacency amongst 1 billion people globally by engaging footballers, football fans and the general population”.


How have you been approaching the SDGs on an organisational level?

Yang Villa admitted, “I work to cultivate collaborative innovation (technical, social, and business model), for example with Isle’s Water Action Platform where I manage a global knowledge exchange about the SDGs”.

Charity Supeyo supports various projects of her utility that focus on innovation adoption and improvement of the livelihood of the utility customers. Charity also described how her company provided people successfully with access to safe drinking water keeping the affordability in focus and using customer tailored technology for easy payment. This is a clear action towards the fulfilment of the SDG 6.

At Xylem Inc. Randolf Webb has chosen the right way to enable himself to pursue global-level topics related to water and the SDGs. “This work has spanned better alignment of our company strategy around the SDGs, supporting our customers in driving sustainability, producing key industry insights on SDGs and water as well as engaging the broader public on climate change and water complacency”.

Kathryn Silvester mentioned that she has been actively taking various initiatives within the International Water Association. She has organised workshops, conducted surveys, and has spread awareness on the SDGs across various membership groups. Being truly passionate about the SDGs, Kathryn welcomes everyone saying: “I will share some of our findings and the plan we have developed. Ask people to get in touch if they have good case studies to share and link them with the IWA-Connect SDG page”.


About the IWA Young Water Professional community

IWA empowers Young Water Professionals within the Association and the water sector. IWA Young Water Professionals are all IWA members aged 35 and below. The IWA gives them the platform to develop their professional network, to connect and contribute to the Association, the water sector, and join their local IWA YPW group. Through their engagement e.g. in IWA Specialist Groups, the IWA Young Water Professionals develop professionally and gain profile.

The IWA Young Water Professional are all IWA members aged 35 and below.

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