In January 2014 Sara Ehrhardt left her home country Canada to join the GWP global secretariat as Senior Technical Officer in Stockholm, Sweden. Among her first assignments, she traveled to Korea as part of the preparatory work being undertaken for the 7th World Water Forum 2015. In this blog she reflects on her place in the wider “water world”.
Two months into my time at GWP, I have experienced what some might call a moment of insight.
There I was, sitting next to one of the World Water Council’s Governors as part of the World Water Forum’s 2nd Stakeholder Forum in Korea. I was at my first external meeting as part my new duties as GWP’s Senior Technical Officer.
My introduction to the water world was as a ’water warrior’ – the term used to describe activists challenging the commodification of water resources and advocating for the human right to water. I came into this work following the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and the 3rd World Water Forum in Tokyo.
This was before blogs existed –and the internet was only beginning to connect us in ways that allow a much broader group of actors to become aware of and participate in global sustainable development processes.
My early experiences connecting with water activists around the world led me to a career focused on building solutions across public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. I now bring a decade of experience in finance and environmental management to complement my water activist roots.
My views have not changed. I remain passionately committed to ensuring the voices of the most vulnerable have a place in water management discussions. And I continue to see the need for active and robust civil society and public sector engagement alongside private sector development efforts.
But my experiences both inside and outside of meetings like the Stakeholder Meeting in Korea have convinced me that the world needs us to move beyond ‘inside/outside’ discussions.
We have only one blue planet. We are all ‘inside’ when it comes to managing our limited water resources for sustainable human development.
This is a critical moment, a time when world leaders are pondering where and how water fits within a post-2015 Development Agenda. Securing water for all is a clear development imperative but the complexities are enormous.
Moving forward, I am more convinced than ever that neutral platforms like the Global Water Partnership are essential for facilitating the difficult conversations needed to tackle integrated water management. It is for this reason that I am inspired to be joining GWP at this time. I look forward to collaborating across our diverse Network and to advancing our global water work.