Trini woman first C'bean participant in Water Summer School in Poland
Trinidadian Nishana Ramsawak seen here at the Water Summer School Programme in Poland. Photo: GWP-CEE.
A passion for water management and youth development ultimately landed Trinidadian national Nishana Ramsawak the opportunity of a lifetime.
The Quality Control Supervisor at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) of Trinidad and Tobago became not only the first T&T representative, but the first Caribbean participant in an annual Water Summer School Programme, hosted in Poland in July.
She was selected to be a part of the programme organised by the Global Water Partnership-Central and Eastern Europe (GWP-CEE).
The Summer School is designed to enhance the skills of students enrolled in various water-related MSc and PhD programmes from universities mainly throughout Europe.
The week-long curriculum presents participants with global and regional issues and challenges them to explore innovative solutions.
The 2018 edition of the Summer School focused on Agenda 2030 with a key emphasis on Water Security and Climate Resilience.
It was held from July 1 – 6, 2018 at Warsaw’s University of Life Sciences and represented a collaboration between GWP-CEE, Solidarity Water Europe and Youth Water Community Central and Eastern Europe (YWCCEE).
Ramsawak holds a BSc in Chemistry and Management and an MSc in Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health, from The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine Campus. She also holds an International Water Law Certificate from the University of Geneva.
Additionally, she is engaged in doctoral level research in environmental chemistry.
A member of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) Trinidad and Tobago Chapter, youth advocacy has played a major role in shaping who she is today.
In 2010, Ramsawack applied to be a “water warrior” through the United Nations (UN). Water warriors are empowered to give a voice to water and related issues. Ramsawack later became a UN Youth Volunteer.
Her stint in Poland is not the first time she has had the opportunity to share her views on an international level, as in 2016, her water advocacy led her to participate in the Singapore International Water Week as a young water professional.
Her fascination with wastewater, water innovation and climate change doesn’t end there as she is a member of various online water groups that exchange knowledge, ideas and various water-related opportunities.
It was through one of these groups that she learnt of the Water Summer School Programme put on by GWP-CEE.
Reflecting on her experience on the conclusion of the programme, Ramsawack said she was inspired by other young people like herself, who are passionate about water and finding ways to overcome water and climate change challenges.
The young water professional told GWP-CEE that “the programme was an invaluable experience that was full of learning.”
She said it showed her that water is not just a utility but a necessity.
Using her position as the only person from the Caribbean at the Water Summer School to her advantage, she engaged in meaningful learning with participants and shared experiences from Trinidad relating to access and treatment of water.
She was able to learn about a number of practical solutions which could be implemented in Trinidad and Tobago, that are currently utilised by European nations in terms of river restoration, flooding, water metering solutions, and water innovation.
Ramsawack was delighted to offer a Caribbean perspective during a dialogue on Water and Climate Change Policies between participants and policy-makers called “Youth Voices – Policy Choices.”
The interactive platform allowed for a rare opportunity for discussion to take place between the young water advocates and decision-makers.
She said, “the interaction with the decision-makers, made me feel that my voice was being heard and I was also able to give the Caribbean a voice there.”
The session provided the youth participants with the forum to share their ideas on water and climate that could be taken forward to COP24 – The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP24 will take place in December, in Poland.
Ramsawack said her experience in the week-long programme reinforced her view and desire for young people to be involved in and taught about water as a necessity from an early age.
She said it further highlighted what the younger generation has to offer and “how unique they are in putting forward good and innovative ideas and transferring them into action”.
She expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the programme and for the knowledge she gained.
Ramsawack said she was inspired by the experts and decision-makers she met during the Youth Voices session.
“I could be like them and make a difference and influence young minds, and that’s where I want to be,” she said.
She’s putting what she learnt during her time at the programme to good use, as she has already begun advocating for the consideration of a similar Water Summer School to be rolled-out locally and in the wider Caribbean, since returning to Trinidad.
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