The delegation from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) had 27 students from the Master of Environmental Studies (M.E.S.) and Master of Science in Applied Geoscience programs in attendance at the World Water Forum. At the end of the week, some of us from Penn were invited to present solutions emerging from our institution. On Friday morning, three classmates and I highlighted a few water-related sustainability initiatives currently in place at Penn. Rupal Prasad began with an overview of the University’s Green Campus Parternship and the structural layout of our nearly 200-year old campus. I then described our unique outreach programs and explained to the young audience how exactly we connect with our undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff. Since American college and university students generally move away from home and onto higher education campuses at the age of 18, it is important that they learn and engage in a sustainable lifestyle to carry forward after graduation.
Abdoulkader Issoufou is working with Reseau Projection, with a group of 26 other young water professionals, to edit and translate the daily newsletter of the World Water Forum. Abdoulkader is from Niger, is otherwise employed by Save the Children, and runs the NGO (non-governmental organization) Ong Tassa. His story is different from many of his Reseau Projection colleagues, who are Americans, Europeans, and others from around the world. His reasons for engaging in the World Water Forum are hard-hitting and have affected his family for his whole life. He has come to the Forum to help create real solutions to water crises in the world.
Have you ever engaged in political debate or taught an informational session IN A SLUM? That’s what some were doing at the World Water Forum last week in the Village of Solutions’ make-shift demonstration slum. Veolia, the largest private water service company in the world, presented the stand pictured above as a ‘solution’ to the water crisis. On Tuesday morning, I had the opportunity to interview Thomas Hascoet, Project Manager for Veolia in Paris, about it. He began working with Veolia’s Social Connection Program in Morocco in 2006.
Ladies from all corners of the world dressed in a rainbow of colors of their national dress to create the most diverse modeling catwalk you’ve ever seen. On Wednesday morning, I walked with these women (and two gentlemen) down the “catwalk” at the Women for Water Partnership (WfWP) “Presenting New Thinking New Challenges” session of the World Water Forum. The room was packed with both genders and people from around the world, which was exciting. WfWP is a strategic “alliance of local, national and international women’s organizations and networks, active in the areas of sustainable development, water & sanitation, poverty, and gender”, chaired by Alice M. Bouman-Dentener. My University of Pennsylvania Master of Environmental Studies colleagues work with WfWP Communications and Advocacy Chair Kusum Athukorala on Penn’s new journal on women and water issues, wH2O.
Student reporters Sharon Muli and Marissa Rosen arrived in Marseille early for the World Water Forum 6 and visited the nearby town of Cassis. We initially intended simply to explore the natural beauty of the calanques, where cliffs meet clear blue lagoons on the western point of the French Riviera. We soon learned about the region’s freshwater after being approached by Anthony Solari who offered to be our English translator for the French-only tour. Once the boat departed from the port, he explained the unique limestone rock features of the cliffs, the history of mining in this area, and the local efforts to extract drinking water. The boat went by jubilant hikers and adventurers who were strolling along the cliffs and skimming rocks into the waters below them.
Last night, I got a rare chance to participate in the behind-the-scenes development of a global movement. I was one of eight students who met in a nearby hotel lobby to write up our definitions of the three established Water Youth Movement pillars — Education, Crossing Boundaries and Innovation — and create a pivotal structural document outlining the Movement’s mission and goals that will be presented to the sixth World Water Forum Secretariat tomorrow. The group included the three leaders of the Youth Task Force, the governing body of the Water Youth Movement — Matt Agarwala, Rozemarinj ter Horst, and Marie-Alix Prat. The Water Youth Movement was organized by the Emerging Academic Program, in collaboration with Youth Diplomacy of France, The World Youth Parliament for Water, the Water and Youth International Movement, and other progressive youth-led associations. While the participating youth have had a presence at the past five World Water Forums, this conference in Marseille is the first chance the Youth Task Force has had a significant presence and voice amongst the businesses, diplomats, and NGO’s that participate in these global-level meeting. The opportunity to participate arose from attending the Youth Task Force Opening Session, which Sharon covered in more detail here.