Mediterranean Union of Young Water Ambassadors

Istanbul, World Water Forum
Mediterranean Union of Young Water Ambassadors (UMJAE)


Water is a single country

During the World Water Forum which was held in Istanbul from March 16th to 22nd 2009, the Water Embassy not only gave the floor to the youth but also, for the first time in an international meeting, the youths’ action was seriously taken into account and experts helped them to structure their projects.

They were nine future engineers, each accompanied by a professor and an elected official. They were aware of what should be done to ameliorate the water problematic in their region and they worked during the year to reach these goals. However, their education did not teach them the complexity surrounding international financing. That is why the Water Embassy not only served as link between the developing countries, France and Europe, but it also enabled the youth to get in contact with the actors that could finance their projects.

During three days, these youth participated in sessions specifically organised by them and for them, during which they analysed the problems and searched for solutions, both on a regional and global level. To conclude their participation, they drafted a final declaration which will lead to the realisation of the infrastructures needed as solutions to the access to water and sanitation problematic in their country. This generation is not satisfied by words, it wants action, and this is very inspiring.

Consult the program of the umjae
at the World Water Forum in Istanbul


The problems raised during these sessions

Environmental problems:

- Extreme water scarcity in the Mediterranean
- In many countries, bad treatment of waste, of outflow and of agricultural input location..

Human related problems:

- Insufficient local and regional governance: indifference? Lack of motivation? Or simply ignorance?
- Difficulty to overcome the conflicts which, sometimes, blocked the debate.

Reasons to hope

- Excellent education of the youth. Tomorrow’s “builders” are competent.
- Feeling of belonging to the same region of the world, composed by many countries, thus enabling them to make the difference between governance and politics and hence to overcome the political conflicts.
- Very mature, extreme generosity, enthusiasm and lucidity.
- Firmly convinced that one should share knowledge and water resources, while continuing to work together: we witnessed the birth of a true fraternity.


What happens next ?

On the short term       

The young ambassadors will prepare an outline document for their operational projects, which will be forwarded to the Water Embassy’s experts Committee before April 8th. This Committee will work on the document and send it to the potential financial backers (on a national or international level). By the end of April, the files shall be finalised.
The projects will be presented during the Union for the Mediterranean meeting, scheduled to take place in France at the beginning of the summer 2009.
Once the financing is secured, the projects will be launched.

On the medium term

The professors will still have their functions many years from now. Their students, the young water ambassadors, will embark in their professional lives and other students will replace them. All of these actors are the foundations on which our action is built.

The elected officials will pursue their awareness raising campaigns on water. They will actively participate in the development of the decentralised cooperation, remembering all the while that the initial financing should always be done at the local level.

The young water ambassadors, in their professional life, will work on education people on water and on citizenship, without which good governance is impossible.

On the long term

In view of the seriousness of the water related problems around the Mediterranean, and all over the world, the human beings must share the resource and thus live together. This means that these youths that we’ve met in Istanbul, by being water ambassadors will also be peace ambassadors.

Such a heavy work load for such a small association! In his speech on March 20th after the Istanbul Plea, the French politician and Minister of Environment and Land Planning, Mr. Jean Louis Borloo said:

My dear Jeannette, you are crazy. One has to be crazy to embark on such a project due to the complexity of the relations and of the conflicts in the region. But the craziest projects are those that make things move forward. Of course I can guarantee my support for the integration of the UMJAE in the projects of the Union for the Mediterranean”.