On Thursday March 23, 2023 attendees from different sectors gathered both online and in-person to take action in the development of clean water and cleaner energy. In conjunction with the UN 2023 Water Conference, IVECA and collaborators hosted a side event on Multistakeholder Partnership Model - Global Citizenship Education for Clean Water and Cleaner Energy. Keynote speakers and panelists opened the conversation by addressing the critical issues with water and how to expand the impact of our efforts for a sustainable future. The solution to which was identified as support from multi-stakeholder partnerships in fostering global citizenship.
To set the precedent for the event, keynote speakers Amb. Dr. Hesham Elnakib, Mr. Asok Kumar, and Mr. Wonsoo Kim opened by calling all citizens to act upon the water and energy crisis around the world. Ambassador Dr. Elnakib started with a strong statement alluding to the UN report on water scarcity, “We are being faced with such a challenging and dire situation, and unfortunately it is getting worse day after day.” He mentioned that the problem is affecting many parts of the world including his homeland. His Excellency stressed that we will not be able to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by the 2030 benchmarks without the collective partnership of stakeholders with global citizenship.
Mr. Kumar, Assistant Vice Minister of the Indian Ministry of Water Power, expressed the importance of collaboration by recalling an Indian tradition, “The world is one family.” Following, Mr. Kim, Head of the Global Academy for Future Civilization at Kyunghee University shared, “to cope with these issues we need global citizenship and multi-based people to become passionate for humanity and nature, to collaborate to solve problems based on understanding the world’s interconnectedness.”
The first panel identified the critical issues with water and how they are related to human lives. Dr. William Gaudelli, Dean of the College of Education and Provost for Innovation in Education at Lehigh University, shared statistics including that two billion people live without safely managed water. The path to water safety starts with each citizen making a choice, noted by Dr. Sarantuyaa Zandaryaa, program specialist at UNESCO’s Division of Water Sciences. With emerging pollutants such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, industrial chemicals and more, increased global citizenship education for the people will support each of us humans to make the right choices. Furthermore, panelists agreed clean water is a human right, not a privilege.
According to Ms. Jayashri Wyatt, Chief of Education Outreach Division at the UN Department of Global Communications, “Water is life itself.” She explained the role of UN Academic Impact and its endeavors to support global citizenship education. The UNAI is focusing on transformative education, uplifting global citizenship, and connecting students and universities. Lastly, Dr. Mariel Friberg, research scientist at the University of Maryland and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, supported the other panelists’ points by analyzing critical pollution data and reiterating the need for policies, sustainable financing, and stakeholders for clean water.
The second panel continued the conversation, by addressing how we can broaden the scope of our impact and prepare for a sustainable future. Mr. Mazin Mukhtar, co-founder of the Akshar Foundation, detailed their recycling school funds policy which has proven to be a success. Students of 25 schools across India access education by bringing recyclables to school in exchange for educational fees. Dr. João Ribeiro-Bidaoui, General Counsel & Director of Global Public Affairs at The Ocean Cleanup, based in the Netherlands, discussed the biggest ocean clean-up effort in the world and their strategy to clear our oceans of pollutants. Attendees’ attention was brought to the main source of leakage–rivers. By tapping into the leakage and stopping pollutants at the river mouths, we can prevent the buildup of ocean pollution.
To tackle over 80% non-reusable and unrecyclable plastic waste, Mr. Gi-woong Choi, CEO of EcoFlame represented by Director Mr. Jeongseok Lee, detailed how EcoFlame’s advanced combustion technology is making a difference for clean water and cleaner energy–their technology uses those untreatable waste as fuel to generate cleaner energy with low carbon emissions. Dr. Jinwoo Lee of Dohwa Engineering in Seoul, South Korea explained the company’s strategies to produce clean water and energy through smart farming, incineration techniques, and eco-friendly wastewater treatment. Both EcoFlame and Dohwa emphasized the need for education initiatives, outreach within communities to educate the youth on the growing importance of taking action.
Ms. Aishu Narasimhadevara, Ph.D candidate at Thailand’s Chungkalorn University and previous youth mentor at IVECA, shared her experience in regard to global citizenship education and the wonders it can produce. Through IVECA’s Global Virtual Summer camp, she said, her group of young activists came up with amazing solutions to help reduce the amount of plastic waste dumped into water sources around the world. Finally, IVECA Founder and President, Dr. Eunhee Jung spoke on the IVECA program’s initiative to create a long-lasting solution through global citizenship education for university students. By providing collaborative learning environments with expert mentorship from the technology, engineering and environmental fields, the initiative suggests a multistakeholder education partnership model involving support from the private and public sectors and collaboration with local and global NGOs.
In his closing remarks, H.E. Ambassador Sangjin Kim, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, emphasized the need for more action from stakeholders around the globe and the urgency of the world’s water crisis. As he stated, “We cannot keep business as usual, that is not an option.” Ambassador Kim made an emotional connection to the subject, reminding us all that the water crisis is indeed personal for each of us.
“My local is someone’s global, and that global is another person’s local,” stated Rev. Dr. Liberato Bautista, President of the Co-NGO, echoing the sentiment Ambassador Kim shared. “We must address this crisis where water is- everywhere, locally and globally.” Forging partnerships through “glo-cal” citizenship education, he said, is key to the sustainability of our planet.