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Youth Representation at the SWA Sector Ministers’ Meeting

Kenneth Alfaro and Geisel Sánchez, Red de Jóvenes por el Agua Centroamérica
28 May 2019

April 2019 was the month of increased youth participation for Central America Youth for Water Network (Red de Jóvenes por el Agua Centroamérica) at national, regional and global events. With the support of SWA, we participated as youth representatives in the recently concluded 2019 Sector Ministers’ Meeting (SMM) in San José, Costa Rica. The Central America Youth for Water Network is a regional platform, wherein we promote youth involvement in the Integrated Water Resource Management and are committed to promoting the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our participation at the SMM provided us with a unique perspective on the dynamics of high-level Ministerial Dialogues and how such sessions could promote cross-country learnings for breaking barriers for access to water and sanitation. We as youth representatives, actively attended these ministerial dialogues to understand the challenges and opportunities in this sector. The meeting left us with some learnings: a) setting common goals and strengthening collaboration among sector partners would accelerate progress in the sector, b) Youth must be seen as actors with the capacity to sit at the discussion table, and express concerns and propose solutions, c) all mechanisms for participation or accountability must be validated in the multi-sectoral process before being applied, and must include the "right to reply" or evaluation.

During the same time, we launched a Virtual Consultation aimed at young people between 15 and 35 years old, called "Young People acting for Sanitation to leave No one Behind", where 189 young people from over 20 countries (such as Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, among others) participated. Here are some recommendations for the Governments that came out of the consultative process:

  • To effectively realise the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, it needs to be included in the legislation of the country.
  • Increased efforts are needed to raise awareness of SDG6, and the need for youth involvement in implementing these goals should be highlighted.
  • It is important to plan water resources with an approach of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in order to improve water governance in the countries. Increased efforts are needed to adopt solutions based on nature and technology for helping the recovery of the ecosystems and mitigate the impact of global warming.
  • For effective implementation of the accountability mechanisms, they need to be accessible, inclusive and transparent to measure the realistic progress of SDG6. These mechanisms should be consulted and validated to ensure its relevance and efficiency.
  • Strengthen Community Organizations as they play an important role in ensuring potable water and basic sanitation services, especially rural areas.

We believe youth could make a real contribution to achieving the SDG6 goals, and as a result, would like to commit the following:

  • To be responsible in the usage of the water resources and being guards for its protection. Contribute to the educational process for environmental awareness and promote a new culture of water in the society.
  • Participate actively and positively in the spaces of discussion and collective decision making.
  • We offer our capacity of articulation with other sectors of the society in establishing multilevel and intergenerational alliances.

See, full Youth Statement in English and Spanish.