Sri Lanka's first-ever Young Water Professionals Symposium (YWPS) will be held on Thursday, November 22, at the Galadari Hotel. Minister of Water Supply and Drainage Minister the Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena will be the chief guest and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Prof. Mohan Munasinghe the keynote speaker. Unilever Sri Lanka Chairman Amal Cabraal, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Director General Jeremy Bird, and Sri Lanka Water Partnership (SLWP) Chair Kusum Athukorala will also attend.
The YWPS provides a platform for young water professionals aged 35 years and below employed in public, private, academic and civil institutions, to generate innovative ideas that will herald the change necessary to meet the water challenges of today. This two-day event is organised by the Sri Lanka Water Partnership (Lanka Jalani) and co-sponsored by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and Unilever Pureit.
Lanka Jalani Chair, Kusum Athukorala, explained the purpose of holding the Symposium; "YWPS provides an opportunity to showcase the strengths, creativity and aspirations of young professionals in the water sector institutions, in developing solutions. As emerging sector leaders, young water professionals need to develop leadership abilities to initiate, influence and drive change within a situation where water practitioners are constantly faced with complex challenges and crises."
The presentations made by the young water professionals will be on several nationally-important water related themes - including optimising water utilisation and improving water delivery; good governance and economic / financial feasibility and environmental sustainability. Topical issues such as climate change adaptation, capacity building in water resources will also be discussed as will be a number of locally-relevant issues - - drought, water-borne diseases, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), floods, heavy metal pollution, groundwater chemistry, agriculture and forestry, runoff harvesting, over extraction, to name a few.
Unilever Sri Lanka Chairman Amal Cabraal commented on Unilever’s co-sponsorship of the YWPS ; "The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan identifies ways in which we can increase our positive social impact while reducing our environmental impact. Recently we launched Pureit water purifiers in Sri Lanka, in line with our commitment to improve the health and well being of the community by providing them access to safe drinking water. Now by joining with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to support this symposium organized by the Sri Lanka Water Partnership (SLWP) we take a another step to encourage some of the brightest young minds to come up with solutions to water challenges. I along with Unilever Sri Lanka am proud and happy to support the Young Water Professionals Symposium”.
IWMI Director General Jeremy Bird affirmed IWMI’s commitment to YWPS; “As an international research organization that promotes ‘water for a food-secure world’ as its vision, IWMI is proud to co-sponsor, with Unilever Sri Lanka, this highly commendable program. Our association with this initiative of the Sri Lanka Water Partnership is a demonstration of our commitment, not only in support of the young water professionals of this country, but also in forming strong partnerships with other organizations to bring about equitable water solutions that build on Sri Lanka’s long history of community water management.”