From 6 to 17 March, around 70 young people from all over the world representing the five continents gathered to take part in the World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW). During two packed weeks of activities, they discussed and voted on their charter that sets out the objectives, rules and process for being elected as members of the parliament. All members of the parliament voted in favour of the new charter at the presentation of preparatory works, held in the Espace Bargemon, Marseille on 10 March, ahead of the World Water Forum.
The young people also developed a declaration that describes the parliaments’ commitments and solutions concerning water. A ceremony on 14 March saw the young parliamentarians officially present this declaration to the World Water Forum. All of the young parliamentarians voted in favour of the new declaration.
One of the young parliamentarians taking part was 20 year-old Sharifatu Yussif from Makango in Northern Ghana, pictured right. Green Cross International has recently implemented its Smart Water for Green Schools project in the community where Sharifatu lives, and she was an assistant teacher at the school where the project has been put in place. As a teacher, she has seen a big difference in the children at the school, thanks to the availability of clean water and sanitation.
“Before the project, attendance of girls at the school was not very high. Girls had to go and collect water before school – this meant that they would often arrive late. Many of them chose not to go to school afterwards, to avoid the punishment they would receive for being late. The river is one hour’s walk from school, and we often had to walk there up to three times a day. Now this is no longer the case, I can go and collect clean water in less than 5 minutes… The number of girls attending the school is now much higher. ”
In addition to the WYPW activities, Sharifatu participated in a number of Green Cross events during the forum, speaking on access to water and sanitation in her community, and the work of SWGS. Talking about what she would do on her return home, Sharifatu said
“As soon as I get home, I want to share my experiences and everything that I have leant through this experience with my community. This is very important for me”.
Throughout the week the young parliamentarians met and worked with a number of key people present at the forum, including François Fillon, Prime Minister of France, Maud Fontenoy, French navigator and Ambassador of the WYPW, Mrs Mamia Elbanna, Tunisian Water Minister, Letitia Obeng, President of the Global Water Partnership and ambassador of the WYPW and Famke Janssen, Ambassador for Green Cross International and supporter of the WYPW.
The members of the WYPW now have an official mandate to implement the actions and solutions set in their declaration. They will report on this in March 2015 in Daegu in the Republic of Korea at the next World Water Forum.