Un grupo de jóvenes conversa durante el Encuentro ©UNICEF Nicaragua-2016/O. Moraga
3 de May de 2016

Managua. In the context of World Water Day, 120 young people from Mexico, Central America, Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, Spain and South Africa participated in the “Youth for Water Conference: Working for a common agenda” held in Granada, Nicaragua, on March 11 and 12. The conference was an initiative organised by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) Central America, the Youth for Water Movement (MOJA) and La Ruta del Clima with support from GWP South America, Reforestamos México, UNICEF and other organisations that promote the sharing of experiences and reflection among Latin American youth on water, climate change and water security.

“It is stimulating to observe the interest of young people from different countries in meeting to reflect, share experiences and collaboratively build a platform that addresses the problem of the environment, and water resources in particular, in relation to the effects of climate change,” stated Wanda Obando, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Officer at UNICEF Nicaragua. “Young people undoubtedly have a lot to contribute, raising awareness from the local to the national level and establishing alliances that reach beyond borders. UNICEF shares the importance of promoting these kinds of events, as they contribute to the building of new forms of citizenship based on values such as solidarity, gender equality, interculturality and environmental responsibility, among others.”

Urgent issues

The issues addressed during the conference included water and jobs; water and climate change; and the Sustainable Development Objectives (ODSs), including the ODS on water. Other issues were the water-related labour supply: realities by country; volunteer work experiences and water internships; putting the water footprint into practice; ecosystem-based adaptation; entrepreneurial initiatives and work for young people; young people working for conservation and water; and experiences related to the protection of ecosystems.

Sustainable Development Objective number 6 includes aspects such as ensuring the availability of water and sanitation to the population, the quality of water, water-use effectiveness, the management of transborder watersheds, and the conservation of ecosystems to guarantee water services.

Part of the Nicaraguan delegation at the conference was made up of students from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua’s departments of biology and chemistry, the National Engineering University’s engineering faculty, and the Río Blanco School for Life, as well as representatives from the Rama Creole Government. Other participants included students from the Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University (BICU), representing the Innovation Laboratory initiative; and adolescent entrepreneurs in the area of water and sanitation with a climate change focus, who are part of an initiative promoted by the Regional Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Directorate (DRASH) of Nicaragua’s Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCS). UNICEF is providing technical and financial support to both of these initiatives.

Oswaldo Guerra, a young man from Bluefields, and Karla Vanessa Bobb, a medical student from the BICU, presented work done by the BICU Innovation Laboratory. The Laboratory’s objective is to open up spaces for conversation among young people and social actors about the problems they identify as priorities for the comprehensive development of children in the RACCS and to look for new innovative ideas to provide solutions.

The representatives from the Innovation Laboratory presented the experience of a social innovation camp held in the port of El Bluff, Bluefields, to discover the main problems experienced by the port’s children. Mothers, fathers, children, teachers and community leaders all participated in this activity. “We’re going to innovate about things that already exist to provide a response to existing problems,” emphasised Karla Vanessa Bobb.f

Oscar Urbina and Yerling Serrano participated for the adolescent entrepreneurs in water, sanitation and hygiene, presenting that initiative and the impact it has on the lives of the adolescents who take part in a two-month building and plumbing course with an emphasis on climate change and entrepreneurialism. Some of the youngsters to have finished the course have formed micro-businesses that provide services to the local population, including well construction and cleaning, the building of latrines and the repairing of toilets. Most of the participants were young people outside of the school system and in a situation of risk.

“I’m really impressed by this initiative and everything that can be done with the adolescents,” said Corina Piaggio, who is the communications officer for Global Water Partnership South America. “In addition to benefitting them, it also enables them to influence the water, sanitation, hygiene and climate change sector.”

World Water Day: Water and Jobs

World Water Day is celebrated on March 22, and this year its slogan is “Water and Jobs” to encourage all countries to reflect on the importance of water for all human activities and development. In this sense it is important to provide spaces to include the youth labour force in the integrated management of water resources.

The conference concluded with the launch of the Central American Youth Network for Water, whose purpose is to foster alliances with other youth initiatives in the region with the same aims.


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Olga Moraga, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Nicaragua omoraga@unicef.org.

BICU Innovation Laboratory: