By Giada Crivelli
About one month ago I was very pleased to receive an e-mail by the Global Cooperation Department of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), asking me, as part of a group of young professionals, to participate in a panel discussion at the Department’s annual assembly. I was very pleased to hear that such an important institution decided to include the voice of youth in their annual assembly.
On the 17th of January, Nina Burghartz (Operation Libero), Maurice Lindgren (Young Green Liberal Party) and me had the possibility to hear the annual reviews of the different divisions within the Global Cooperation Department, outlining their commitments to diverse projects, with a special focus on the nexus between water and peace; under the label of “Blue Peace”.
For me, these moments were extremely important not only because I had the possibility to see another part of the work of the FDFA but moreover, because i was able to see the inclusiveness of the topic of Blue Peace from very different approaches. This point was probably the word most used during the day: working in an holistic way and finding solutions that come from different angles. We had the possibility of looking into the activities (both water-related and otherwise) of sub-divisions as diverse as the Global Institutions Division, the Global Programme for Migration and Development, the Global Programme on Climate Change and Environment, as well as the Global Programme on Food Security, and others.
What is Blue Peace?
Blue Peace is an initiative carried out by the FDFA that combines three aims of Swiss foreign policy through a government coordination mechanism. First, the development of Swiss hydro-diplomacy which consists in offering facilitation and mediation in negotiations to reduce tensions related to water allocation; second, a commitment to evidence-based decision making and data sharing, and finally, catalysing funding for studies to promote shared investments that are both economically viable and respectful of the environment.
After the presentation part, we had a panel discussion of the three young professionals together with a representative of the SDC. The moderator asked us questions about our opinions and inputs on the presentations we just had seen. What for me was positive about the discussion was the fact that I really felt listened to from the public, from the professionals and from the organisers of the conference. It feels good, as a youth representative, to be able to be included in such a prominent way. Another very interesting part was the moment when the public was able to ask us (a lot) of questions. In this way we had the possibility to discuss also controversial topics, such as for instance the role of the private sector in development cooperation, or also the basic question if the focus on water is really the right way to go.
What I will bring home from this experience is for sure new information about how SDC is organized, a deeper understanding of the water issue and its connections and possibilities for diplomacy, and a lot of new interesting networking paths and possibilities.
Finally, I would also like to share a very nice possibility: to participate at the 4th General Assembly of the World Youth Parliament for Water in Brazilia! Applications for young participants interested in the subject are now open and you can now try to be a changemaker yourself. My advice: Don’t let this possibility wash away!