UNESCO Water Resilience Challenge 2022 on Groundwater: Sustaining the Local Biodiversity and Livelihood

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Groundwater provides us with various purposes which fulfil the social, economic, and environmental benefits. However, in many areas, it is frequently devalued, and even (over) exploited. Groundwater contamination is anotherconcern. Given these problems, the unsustainability usage of groundwater has led to concerns of groundwater depletion.

Countries in Southeast Asia share many similarities on water-climate issues, including but not limited to groundwater. Based on the report from The UN, Indonesia and Vietnam are noted to extract groundwater as households are the majority users of groundwater (The United Nations World Water Development Report 2022: Groundwater: Making the invisible visible).

Groundwater in Biosphere Reserve

Indonesia and Vietnam have the most significant number of UNESCO-recognized biosphere reserves in Southeast Asia, proving the importance and ambition of sustaining these unique environments for local biodiversity and livelihood. The biosphere reserves area is a one-of-a-kind ecosystem divided into three zones: the core area, the buffer zones, and the transition zone.

This location is home to a variety of living forms. Water within the biosphere reserves acts as a source of life from upstream and downstream. As a result, the water cycle and how it relates to groundwater groundwater management must be integrated with ecosystem and watershed planning and conservation. If there are groundwater crises in several areas in Indonesia and Vietnam, biosphere reserves are no exception.

The Young Water Leaders

The increasing population has escalated the need for clean water. As one of the best sources, groundwater continues to be intensively and massively taken to meet the need. Youth are the future leaders of tomorrow; they have the drive and ability to create novel solutions. Taking the sites of biosphere reserves as learning ground for sustainable development will encourage young people to explore and express their ideas in meaningful way.

Introducing: UNESCO Water Resilience Challenge 2022

UNESCO Water Resilience Challenge 2022 is a unique capacity-building program where a total of fifty Young Water Leaders from Indonesia and Vietnam will be selected, mentored, and challenged to learn about how groundwater supports life and benefit the local community inside a biosphere reserve, analyze the critical issue, exchange knowledge on the uniqueness within the two biosphere, and develop their original concepts to address these issues– all within online and offline sessions.

Making the Invisible, Visible! Reflecting on this year's World Water Day 2022 message on making the invisible visible, the Challenge will take groundwater as the focus theme in the mission to raise awareness on this invisible issue. Through this activity, the youth are being prepared to be the future water and climate leaders.

This Challenge is an intensive short-term academic program aimed to provide groups of young leaders with a deeper understanding of Groundwater and Biosphere Reserves while enhancing their leadership skills. The program will run through two phases, spanning from 26 August to 23 September 2022. The three-week virtual program and one-week field trip will consist of a balanced series of seminar discussions, lectures, leadership activities and site visits to Merapi-Merbabu-Menoreh Biosphere Reserve (for Indonesian participants) and Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve (for Vietnamese participants).

During Phase I, the participants for the Challenge learn more about the biosphere reserves both in Indonesia and Vietnam, understand the local context and issues, and conduct productive online discussions between Indonesian and Vietnamese teams. There will be online mentoring session to sharpen the teams in translating their strategies into concept solutions with the guidance of experienced national and international mentors. In Phase II, the participants will have biosphere reserve sites to bring everyone together and create a unique environment and experience only face-to-face events can bring. Finally, the participants are expected to pitch their ideas on developing water resiliency in each BR in front of a panel of juries and stakeholders.

Prepare yourself to be next Young Water Leaders. Any information could be accessed through Climate Lab Asia Website.

For more information on the Challenge please check on the Challenge's social media: Instagram (@indonesiawaterchallenge) and Facebook (Vietnam Water Portal).

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