“Students Weigh in on Global Water Rights”

By Margaret Combs
Independent School Magazine – Spring 2003

Two high school seniors, Anna Dysert and Phil Boisvert, from The Cambridge School of Weston (Massachusetts) traveled in November to Quebec City on a formidable mission. As the U.S. delegates to The World Youth Parliament for Water, they and 75 other students from 27 countries converged to accomplish something adults have yet to do: draft and approve a vision for global water management.

Thanks to the students’ efforts, the world now has its first Fresh Water Act, a document that will be taken to The World Assembly of Water Wisdom in Kyoto in March 2003.

For both Dysert and Boisvert, working with teens from other nations and coming to a consensus about a global issue of such magnitude was a pivotal experience.

“This may very well have changed what I want to do with my life,” said Dysert, whose vocal musical talent has always been her main focus, but who is now considering studying international relations.

“It was incredible to put our dream into a piece of paper and have world leaders put it into a global proclamation,” added Boisvert, who is expanding what he learned at The World Youth Parliament into a senior research project.

The Act establishes clean, fresh water as a fundamental human right, and delcares its management essential to the political stability of the world. Specifically, the Act calls for countries to enact legislation and implement water management policies, create systems of sustainable water resource management, ensure equitable distribution of fresh water, set up an oversight committee (similar to the United Nations) to negotiate conflicts, and set up an international fund to assist water-deprived countries. If approved in Kyoto, the document will be disseminated to world governments for enactment.

Engaging students at a young age in the prudent management of the world’s water supply is the expressed goal of The World Youth Parliament for Water, an initiative of The International Secretariat for Water, sponsored by UNICEF and UNESCO. The premise is that today’s teens will be the ones to inherit the crises of water mismanagement and waste so it’s imperative they’re knowledgeable and involved.

In addition, teens bring a youthful outlook and energy that may be exactly what is needed to cut through political agendas and get to consensus. According to Cambridge School of Weston science teacher Marilyn Del Donno, “Kids bring an idealism that most adults lack, and they’ll push harder because of it.”

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