Antonella Vagliente (Argentina)
Vice President, World Youth Parliament for Water
Co-founder and board member, Young Water Solutions & ThirstZero
Master of Integrated Water Management
I have a Bachelor in Local and Regional Development, and I have been working in water supply projects for rural communities since 2013. I have been carrying out climate change-related projects since I was 15 years old.
In 2013, I was part of the team that co-founded ThirstZero, an initiative that seeks to scale up water supply projects in rural communities of the transboundary region of the Gran Chaco (Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay) through a multi-sectoral, interdisciplinary and integrated approach. We connect community based organisations with companies, governments, NGOs, universities and international organisations to scale-up water projects, promote new water supply technologies and influence public policy to contribute to solutions for the most pressing problems of the poorest region in South America.
Fulfilling human rights for sustainable development
Since I realised that no sustainable development is possible if the most basic human rights are not fulfilled, I decided to dedicate my time and energy to improving vulnerable people’s quality of life. I’m interested in water not only because it is the most fundamental resource for all aspects of our lives and our surroundings, but also because it is a trigger to solve other issues, such as gender inequality, food security, climate change resilience, etc.
As well as being part of the ThirstZero team, I am Vice President of the World Youth Parliament for Water, a global network of young people acting for water and sanitation at all levels: from local communities, where we implement field actions, to the United Nations General Assembly, where we advocate for youth participation in the water sector.
I am also co-founder and board member of Young Water Solutions, an organisation based in Belgium that empowers young people by providing them with the tools to carry out WASH projects in their communities. We have WASH projects in Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Bangladesh.
Reflecting on learnings and supporting practical experience
Before starting the MIWM, everything I knew about water came from first-hand knowledge.
I felt I needed to study about water management to be able to see things from a broader perspective and complement my field knowledge of WASH with basin management, water governance, and the water cycle in general.
When you are working in the field, there is hardly ever time to pause and reflect on the learnings and how to improve your work, search for best practices, etc.
Being a good decision maker and problem solver means having the ability to understand the water system, find accurate solutions and engage stakeholders. Only a Master program with a perfect balance between theory and practice could provide that and, with so many field trips, the IWC’s MIWM couldn’t be better.
Combining bottom-up and top-down approaches to water management in Argentina
Argentina has several water management challenges: water pollution, transboundary water issues, around two million people without safe water supply and a lack of resilience to climate hazards among others, and many of them are related to poor governance. Considering my experience with bottom-up WASH projects and the holistic view that the MIWM provides me, I hope to be able to contribute to top-down approaches (policy making, for instance) in the not-too-distant future.
- Read more: 22.03.2016 - Antonella Vagliente was invited to speak at the UN World Water Day in Geneva