2012 World Water Week closes with a youthful vision for a food secure future

The 2012 World Water Week in Stockholm closed today with a “vision” capturing the perspective of the younger generation of water scientists and professionals on the priorities that must be set now in order to achieve water and food security by 2050.

The vision was developed by a group of young professionals who have been interviewing their peers attending the World Water Week, and through gathering input on social media from those following the conference remotely. The team responsible for the Young Professionals’ Vision collected views, suggestions and opinions on how to address current food, water and energy challenges. Together with the ideas that arose from more than 100 sessions, these interviews and written inputs from junior rapporteurs and the young scientific programme committee, the Youth Vision emerged as a consolidated output. According to many who contributed to the formation of this vision, this exercise provided them the opportunity to voice their opinions and present their views on how to solve the water and food security challenge.

This is what they had to say:

The world in 2050 is one where:

  • We have equal access to improved sanitation, safe water, food and health and well-being.
  • We have healthy ecosystems.
  • There is inclusivity in decision-making by both traditional stakeholders such as business and government, but also by neglected groups such as women, youth and indigenous peoples.
  • We look beyond the present.
  • We have informed, aware and proactive citizens who know the value of food and water and you use resources wisely.
  • There is transparency and accountability.
  • We have cooperation that is built on trust by all stakeholders, and one that acknowledges interdependencies.

However we still live in a world where:

  • 2.6 billion people lack improved sanitation
  • Roughly 800 million people lack safe drinking water
  • One billion people go to bed hungry
  • 2 billion people are undernourished
  • 60% of ecosystem services are deteriorating
  • One billion people are obese
  • Between 30- 50 per cent food produced is wasted

The journey to get there should be driven by:

  • Increasing sustainable investments in agriculture
  • Embracing a more resource efficient diet
  • Implementing sustainable intensification
  • Wasting less food
  • Promoting enabling conditions that include incentive mechanisms, policy cohesion and institutional design and strengthening
  • Being adaptable
  • Understanding the link between water, energy and food
  • Adopting business model perspectives in development projects
  • Developing resource recovery and re-use
  • Empowering communities
  • Boosting fairer trade markets
  • Learning from our mistakes as well as our successes

This initiative was successful in raising the voice of the young professionals and allowing it to reach decision makers that attended World Water Week. It also highlighted the World Water Week in Stockholm as a platform which invests in helping and developing the future leaders of our planet. You can still engage with the Young Professionals’ Vision team by following discussions online on the twitter hash tag #YPL or on the World Water Week Social Media Hub: www.watermedia.org