Indian, NZ students and teachers explore range of water issues


A group of Indian students and teachers and their Kiwi counterparts are this week immersing themselves in a range of water-related issues in Central Otago as part of a global leadership and sustainability initiative.

Otago Polytechnic is proud to be involved in the Untouched World Foundation’s Waterwise Leadership and Global Citizenship Programme, an intensive, week-long programme that features an “intergenerational korero” at its Cromwell Campus on Friday 14 December.

Students and teachers predominantly from Otago secondary schools and tertiary institutions have been joined by students and representatives from the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) and partners of its YESPeace Youth Network in Asia.

This week’s activities include visits to lakes and rivers, vineyards and orchards, as well as discussions with water and land use experts, insights into tourism and irrigation pressures, and interviews with locals.

The collaborative programme aims to establish a New Zealand-India youth leadership exchange programme with a focus on fostering youth leadership, which is a key aspect of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Global Action Programme.

“Otago Polytechnic believes educating youth on key issues facing society, unlocking their unique leadership potential and inspiring them to become active change-makers is vital,” says Marc Doesburg, Director: Globalisation, Otago Polytechnic.

“Initiatives such as this Leadership and Global Citizenship Programme positively impact on our world.”

Other key partners include Otago Regional Council, Otago Community Trust and Contact Energy, with further support from Education New Zealand, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Ngai Tahu.

“We want the next generation to have the knowledge and capabilities to live, work and learn globally,” says John Goulter, Education New Zealand General Manager Stakeholders and Communications.

“Helping young people develop into global citizens is a focus of the cross-government International Education Strategy launched in August of this year, and initiatives like this are an excellent example of how we can support this goal. We look forward to seeing how those involved apply what they learn – we’ll be following their progress.”

Untouched World’s Waterwise programme enables youth to interact with all players in the water resource chain, from primary energy players, through to farming, recreation, cultural and conservation interests, all of whom are involved in sustainable water management.

“Leadership with young (18-28) is firstly about agency – understanding the many facets of the issue, developing the transferable skills to collaborate with others, act responsibly and then finding a clear path to actively and positively model their own views and behaviour – which are often challenging to those of us a generation removed. But it is vital we all, listen and engage with an international perspective on these issues,” say Mark Prain, Executive Director, and Barry Law, Education Director UWF.

Deepika Joon, Youth Mobilizing Specialist, UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP):

“It is important for youth to develop social and emotional skills to achieve and understand the multicultural context of realities of water use in New Zealand and India.

This week’s activities are just one in a range of ongoing initiatives.

An “Acts of Kindness’” Campaign is also being developed and will involve MGIEP and Untouched World Foundation mobilising youth in partner institutions to foster meaningful exchange of ideas, knowledge and action towards the achievement of UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“This understanding, combined with action, will help achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 4.7(Global Citizenship and Education for Sustainable Development), and SDG 14 (Life Under Water),” says Deepika.