“There is no best solution – there are a whole bunch of solutions which together will help brighten the future of water. And it’s time to include the youth! ”
In February, Water Alliance UAE launched the RE-NEW OUR WORLD Student Challenge to mark the United Arab Emirates’ National Environment Day. The Challenge is aimed at putting innovation at the center of solving the world’s numerous water challenges.
We have called on students aged 8 to 18 across the UAE, to contribute with their innovative ideas and new concepts on how to manage our world water resources more sustainably.
Among the first submissions, the youngest students – aged about 8 to 11 – are really extremely passionate and most excited about how they can make a difference.
WHAT ARE THE FIRST OUTCOMES OF THIS ACTION?
So far, it’s going extremely well: we already had 135 registrations from students from 18 schools across the Emirates, including Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. In the context of the Challenge, we also held 16 workshops with the support of our partners including Droople.
During their meetings with innovative companies, students of different ages challenged the contributors with insightful technical questions. The initiative was received with great success, generating some 600 student registrations and enthusiastic feedback.
IN WHICH WAYS CAN CROSS-BORDER COLLABORATION HELP TO EDUCATE AND INSPIRE THE YOUNG GENERATION?
An important part of the concept was about connecting children with the professionals worldwide working on novel, creative ideas. We believe that we must work across sectors and borders to bring people together. That’s why we turned to Droople: we really appreciate that the company is combining their technology knowhow with educational projects, such as improving hand hygiene in schools. As a RE-NEW Corporate Champion, Droople can inspire the next generation to think outside the box. For us at Water Alliance, it’s exciting to showcase the Swiss engineering to our students in the UAE, so that we can bring together different partners across borders and connect minds in the process.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF WATER SECTOR IN YOUR VIEW?
I think that the youth will build our future. And thankfully, we see how passionate they are about our environment and about our planet. So, we wish them all the luck! But none of us has the full picture about just how much needs to be corrected. Besides the scientists, how many of us really understand the full depth of the water challenges we face?
From our work, we see that young people are ready to challenge us to solve today’s problems with the mindset of the future. This is why it is vital to empower them to drive change from a very young age. Our message to the young innovators is the word of Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
THE WATER ALLIANCE MISSION: AWAKENING CONSUMER AWARENESS
Historically, the vast majority of NGOs in the water sector have been addressing big issues around water access, such as digging wells, providing infrastructure for remote communities to serve those in need, and today, it’s still a big issue to address. But we also need to realize that our personal actions, particularly our global consumption patterns, affect the world’s water supply. From our perspective as an NGO, individuals themselves have a very important role to play.
To help achieve such global change, the Water Alliance works to engage with water users everywhere, and especially in developed countries, to live up to our common responsibility for keeping our world’s water resources clean, and safe, and abundant.
Today, the water crisis is really a silent emergency that’s happening all around us, and we think that everyone, everywhere must take responsibility for the future.
That is the message we would like to emphasize.