What is the Water Initiative?
Created in 2018 by a group of passionate students, the Water Initiative aims to raise awareness about water-related issues and provide students and young professionals a platform to exchange ideas and provide research and career opportunities in the field of water governance, water diplomacy and natural resources management.
The Initiative is a platform where knowledge and research around water is disseminated and discussed through different approaches and disciplines, ranging from panel discussions and workshops to art installations. We also act as a bridge to a wide network of professionals and academics in national and international water governance.
What has the Initiative achieved in its history?
The Initiative has significantly advanced in creating awareness about water-related issues and developed networks with different universities and organisations external to the Graduate Institute.
The initiative has: undertaken joint research on infrastructural violence in the water systems; worked with the Geneva Peace Week to encourage conversations around water and peace; organised film screenings, trivia and fun nights to enable fun learning along with creating discussions around recent developments on water and environment development. We have also been successful in forging collaborations with external organisations such the Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum and Youth Swiss Water Partnership. Recently, we have organised several Lake Clean Ups around Lake Geneva, and contributed immensely to the research of marine and micro plastic in the oceans conducted by Association pour la Sauvegarde du Léman (ASL).
We also closely work with the Graduate Press to encourage students to express their thoughts and concerns on water related systems.
The initiative has also provided opportunities for young professionals to meet and greet practitioners from international organisations in the form of career coffee chats. This is a wonderful space for students to connect to recruiters and project managers on a one-on-one basis to become more professionally prepared.
What's next for the Water Initiative?
As members of the Water Initiative, we come from very different perspectives about what water means to us. Therefore, for us we want to continue to expand our interdisciplinary approach to learning about water systems and issues. We have a vision to reach out to many educational and professional organisations for collaborations to be able to provide a platform to the students to exchange and advocate their ideas and opinions in International Geneva. Continuing our long-standing relation with the Global Shapers and the Swiss youth partnership, we want to undertake long-term student-led projects in the upcoming semesters.
Why is creating awareness around water so important?
Even if all the countries achieve their stated targets of the Paris Agreement, we will still bear the risk of becoming four degrees warmer by the end of the century. Water is survival and any disturbance can lead to climate catastrophes, which could jeopardize the lives of billions of species and humans on the planet.
The water crisis is the root cause of several environmental problems and it must be addressed by increasing youth engagement in policy processes and implementation.