As temperatures rise, young water professionals around Europe connect to co-create a resilient future

Young professionals
Young water professionals around Europe connect to co-create a resilient future. Photo: EJWP

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Volatile climate patterns continue to drive work toward more adaptive strategies of managing water resources: from rivers and lakes to aquifers and wastewater. With their water future in focus, diverse groups of early-career professionals from all over Europe are meeting for training weeks at each other’s water organizations as part of an initiative to co-create on projects, develop professional skills, and better connect their companies in the sector.  

Launched in 2019, the European Junior Water Programme (EJWP) is bringing these groups of under-40 water professionals together to build their career impacts through target development and active participation in sector events. They come from research institutes, NGOs, government agencies and more, and their increased leadership and communication capacities are providing an added benefit of opening up regional synergies for the organizations in which they work.

Integrated European approach

EJWP is currently forming its fourth group to begin this May, and the two-year, part-time course has already created a community of European organizations with resilient visions of water management in adapting to droughts and floods, digitalization and new working platforms. “An integrated European approach is key to adapting water supplies for communities and all other functions of our society. These young professionals and their organizations are doing something really special by working and sharing together to generate new directions on how we live with water,” said Naomi Timmer, Founder and Director of EJWP.     

Bridging gaps

Water News Europe and EJWP are working in partnership to explore new avenues for water sector outreach and to sharpen the professional communication skills of the EJWP participants. Developing better engagement across political, cultural and technical lines is part of the EJWP approach in bridging gaps for solutions that are broader in scope and effectiveness. Since its beginning, EJWP has also operated in partnership for knowledge and events with Water Europe (WE), based in Brussels. EJWP groups take part in the annual WE Water Innovation Europe conference and other multinational events during the year, aimed making functional contacts in the field and combining expertise on technology.

Sponsors

EJWP participants also travel to each other’s organizations across Europe for quarterly training weeks, to experience different working methods and cultures in the same sectors. In March, EJWP2 participants will meet in Colmar, France, for a training week hosted by ACTeon Environment, and EJWP3 will train together in Mechelen, Belgium, at the Natuurpunt NGO. Last October, EJWP1 completed its 2-year journey and received graduation certifications in a week hosted by AQUA alarm in Hardanger, Norway. All of these organizations have sponsored their staff for participation in EJWP.

Mind shift

Development in EJWP is based on three pillars: knowledge creation and transfer, networking through water-smart community building, and personal-professional development in international teams. Masterclasses on topics including EU water governance policy, hydrology and funding mechanisms are facilitated by senior professionals in these fields. “EJWP training is important for water personnel and organizations because many water-related problems cannot be addressed within the water sector alone. Agriculture, industry and other sectors require a mind shift to align contributing factors for solutions,” said Ingrid Keupers, an EJWP participant from Belgium with De Watergroep.

Events

Events around Europe are part of EJWP network building, while enabling participants to be a part of the conferences, workshops and seminars. Recent events include the SMARTEN project workshop in Niš, Serbia, in January, and the World Impact Summit in Bordeaux, France, last December. “EJWP is the best platform I’ve seen on a European scale, because it motivates ambitious young water professionals to keep their expertise in the sector. It smartly supports human capital for them to thrive, with a platform connecting knowledge and experience,” said Rhys Hellin, an EJWP participant from Wales with Dwr Cymru Welsh Water.

More information

For more information about participating as a water organization or early-career professional in the European Junior Water Programme, contact Director Naomi Timmer at info@juniorwaterprogramme.eu or join the upcoming Q&A webinars for water organizations and for young professionals, on 8 & 11 March.

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