Young leaders from across Thailand convened on 6-8 August 2021 at the ‘Blue-Net Camp’ to drive youth action to tackle water challenges. The online event was organised by the Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR) to stimulate youth-led advocacy for sustainable water management in Thailand.
Thailand has adopted the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and ONWR has a key role in translating policies into actions in the water sector. Dr. Somkiat Prajamwong, Secretary-General of ONWR, said that the Blue-Net Camp was held to celebrate World Water Day 2021 and to strengthen the engagement of all stakeholders, particularly the young generations.
“Sustainable water management is an important issue that affects all of us. We hope that Thai youth will be an integral part of action, initiating small ideas that can spark big changes. By translating ideas into practical implementation, actions on water will accompany us in the long-term and in a sustainable manner.”, said Dr. Somkiat.
During the 3-day virtual gathering, the 50 young leaders selected from Thailand’s 22 river basins actively discussed and exchanged with experts from Thai water agencies as well as the Thai-German Climate Programme – Water (TGCP-Water), on topics including water-related data, integrated water management, and water and environmental issues, including how to address the various impacts of climate change.
As a solution to improve water quality, ‘Coffee Sorb’ is an innovative project that participating youths developed by utilising the concept of constructed wetlands and the use of ground coffee waste. As this treatment system is based on a natural process involving vegetation and soil, it is not costly and can be implemented in communities. It also promotes Thailand’s implementation of SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation.
To raise awareness about sustainable water use, the idea of a ‘Smile Water’ label was also put forward. It aims to certify and promote the efficiency of water use in production and the proper treatment of wastewater. The young leaders plan to start on a small scale, such as with community products. The label could then be extended to community enterprises, households, and larger manufacturers in the future.
“This youth camp is not just an ordinary camp. It aims to find and empower young people who are ready to lead the changes on water issues and to really put ideas into actions. We come up with project ideas and find ways to make them happen, not remain in the imagination,” said Ms. Anchanikran Nantasook, 19, a student in Electrical Engineering and one of the inspiring young leaders attending the youth camp.
With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the young people are continuing their discussions online, including planning for implementation and for site visits when the COVID-19 situation improves. A youth network has also been formed by the young participants from the 1st Blue-Net Camp and ONWR aims to continue empowering young people in the future to drive Thailand’s integrated and sustainable water management.
To enhance knowledge of participating youths in preparation for the Blue-Net camp, a 10-episode webinar series was organised by ONWR between March and June this year. The Thai-German Climate Programme-Water (TGCP-Water) contributed to the online capacity building as guest speakers in a session on ‘Information sharing and Good Practices of Water Resources Management from Germany’.