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‘Water governance, youth engagement crucial for future existence’

Water governance and the engagement of youth are crucial for future existence, said the speakers at the 8th International Water Conference held during 23-25 January 2023 in Sylhet.

The conference, organised by ActionAid Bangladesh under the theme “Water and Rivers for Life and Living: The Role of Youth,” brought the youth groups, policymakers, academicians, researchers, and practitioners, to a common platform to emphasise the importance of incorporating youth mobilisation on issues related to water and rivers.

The programme emphasised five thematic areas – watershed history, morphology and changes; rivers as a living entity and anthropogenic impacts on water and rivers; youth engagement in water and river rights; transboundary rivers and water politics, and innovation: water, ecosystem and sustainable livelihoods.

In the closing session of the conference, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said the linkage between water and governance needs to be emphasised everywhere. “As we graduate from LDCs and more development takes place, water governance will continue to become a crucial component.”

On the first day of the conference, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen inaugurated the event through a video message.

He said: “We believe sound water management can be an important factor for regional peace and solidarity.”
Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of the Department of International Relations, and director of the Centre for Genocide Studies, at the University of Dhaka said: “This year as we focus on the importance of engaging youth in ensuring river rights, policymakers should also think about how to mobilise student associations of the country to advocate for issues of rivers and environment besides their involvement in politics.”

“In addition, this regional conference opened a doorway to investigate commonalities of water and rivers of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and China,” he added.

ActionAid country director Farah Kabir said: “The multiple sessions of the conference created a space for sharing insights and best practices. This year we brought in the importance of youth participation while keeping the main focus on river and water as a part of our dreams, culture and lives and livelihoods.”