UNESCO Water Resilience Challenge 2022: Groundwater


 It is a wrap!

After the three weeks online phase of UNESCO Water Resilience Challenge, the offline phase in Indonesia and Vietnam then started on Monday, 19 September 2022. It was thrilling to see when participants from various backgrounds started to work as a team on the issues of groundwater in the selected area of the case study location.

Experience the issue through site visit

Teams were invited to experience the beauty of Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve and Merapi-Merbabu-Menoreh Biosphere Reserve, most notably to interact with locals around the sites to understand the underlying issue.

Making stops from one site to another, the teams were warmly welcomed by the communities living there, who were also as passionate as our young leaders in discussing water issues and brainstorming what could be done. Water is central to their lives; its importance is regularly celebrated by traditional ceremonies and practices.

A bit unique in Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve, the area is covered by rainforest, so it protects the water source for Dong Nai province. However, in recent years, there has been a lot of large-scale agricultural production that affected the quality of groundwater. Therefore, participants are challenged to think outside the box about how to conserve the groundwater, and at the same time preserve the biosphere reserve.

From Merapi-Merbabu-Menoreh Biosphere Reserve, participants learned about the uneven water distribution and how that led to several households utilizing groundwater for daily use. In another village, tourism activities have triggered movement from the local community, namely Kelompok Hutan Tani (KTH) WanapaksiJatimulyo, to educate and raise awareness through stakeholders and community engagement. All so the natural beauty of Menoreh can be preserved, and the bird biodiversity can thrive.

Highlight of the week: The Final Presentation

The participants presented their preliminary solution for the selected issue through virtual checkpoint session on Friday, 16 September 2022. Following that, each team started to prepare themselves for the second phase of the Challenge which is conducted offline in Yogyakarta, Indonesia also in Dong Nai, Vietnam.

After a long process and team discussions, finally, on Friday, 23 September 2022, all teams from both countries got the opportunity to do a final presentation, which would bring them to the winning team determination. In Indonesia, all teams unexceptionally proposed their solution with their creative style. The teams wore unique costumes which represented their unique side of their teams. Prior to the team presentation, the session was opened by Mohamed Djelid, the Director of UNESCO Jakarta, who delivered his speech. Each team was allowed to present their results for only 5 minutes and followed by 10 minutes of Q&A with the juries from Indonesia and Vietnam. The session was then concluded with the winning team announcement, the most waited momentum of all.

Weeks of learning and site visit were to prepare the teams for the Final Presentation. Stages had been decorated for the teams to come up and share their version on making the invisible, visible. To promote the knowledge exchange between countries, the presentation was done in live hybrid mode: Vietnamese participants from Dong Nai and Indonesian participants from Yogyakarta.

Youth creativity flowed through the five minutes pitch by each team: they came up with their own costumes, strategy, and style! Though their ways to get the message out is fun to watch, their solutions were serious to consider. Congratulations for the winning teams:  Aquam1an team from Vietnam and  Alpha team from Indonesia and! All teams did their very best given the limited time and has swept everyone's attention on their potential.

UNESCO Water Resilience Challenge 2022 came to its end, but the effort should not stop here

Youth engagement has become more and more important to bring up water issues to a wider audience, and to prepare the next leaders early on. Giving a platform for them to be educated, proving a safe space to learn and discuss, and challenging them to tackle the issue would create a more conscious youth network, who one day will lead their countries through their work.

This Challenge highlights and proves that solving groundwater issue does need a collaboration with different expertise, from engineers, planners, architects, local communities, to government and other entities. UNESCO Water Resilience Challenge is an example of collaboration that can be done on the ground to build local capacity to solve the groundwater issue. Groundwater may not be visible to us, but the impacts are visible. It supports the lives of so many people in the world.

The Water Agency, UNESCO Jakarta and UNESCO Hanoi would like to thank all mentors, experts, and partners for their support and guidance during the Challenge.

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