Home > Projects > Water is life: young people as custodians of the Lakes of Vico and Bracciano

Water is life: young people as custodians of the Lakes of Vico and Bracciano, funded by the Waldensian Church (8 per 1000), is a local environmental project aimed at safeguarding and stewarding the waterways of Lakes Bracciano and Vico, based on the active participation of youth. The project was created to enable the development of youth agency and critical thinking towards significant issues around environmental sustainability, especially, local stewardship of water and food.

The project involves 50 young people between the ages of 11 and 14, and focuses on their propensity to become transformative agents of change. This initiative is rooted in a larger ongoing process, carried out by various other local stakeholders, of enhancing the area’s rich environmental heritage.

Key actions are divided between theoretical modules and experiential learning activities. At the end of this educational course, the work of the students would be highlighted through a final paper in the form of a journalistic investigation into the themes and their experiences of local stewardship. The paper is envisioned to be presented by the participants during a final meeting with all the local stakeholders. At the meeting, participants would share their experiences, learnings and reflections.

An important part of this project is to incite curiosity and inquiry through the guided experiential visits and workshops aimed to bring the youth in direct relationship with the Lakes of Vico and Bracciano along with the stakeholders of these waterways. These visits would involve local organic farmers with expertise on how to honour and be in the right relationship with these waterways, giving students the rich opportunity to have direct conversations with local stewards.

Project Presentation Workshop

Understanding Water and Agroecology

On March 22, 2024, an introductory meeting was held for the youth participants in the Water is Life project at Northlands International. The students were engaged in a presentation on water and its relationship with agroecology. Among the topics discussed were: the origin of water, the extent of freshwater availability on our planet and the importance of its conservation.

The session also outlined the widespread exploitation and pollution of water resources. Young participants acutely grasped the intricate links between food choices and environmental degradation-from deforestation caused by agricultural expansion to water pollution from industrial farming practices.

A key takeaway from the workshop was that people’s food choices have a profound impact on the environment and ecosystems. The students engaged with the potential solutions offered by organic agriculture to foster water and nutrient cycles and nourish the health of the ecosystem along with the health of humans.

The presentation also highlighted how agroecology is a farming method that mirrors natural ecosystems, fostering biodiversity and promoting long-term ecological balance. As opposed to conventional agriculture, which focuses on short-term profit maximisation, agroecology prioritises harmony with nature, producing benefits for both environmental and human health.

During the workshop, students were encouraged to think about their personal relationship with water reflected in their daily habits. They were nudged to critically think about which of their behaviours contributed positively to water conservation and environmental sustainability.

It was highlighted that by adopting conscious consumption practices, such as reducing meat consumption or choosing locally sourced products, they could play a key role in conserving water resources and promoting ecological resilience in their local context.

In conclusion, our workshop provided young students with a holistic understanding of water as a finite life giving resource intertwined with broader environmental issues. By illuminating the significance of dietary choices and introducing the principles of agroecology, we aimed to empower the next generation to become stewards of a more sustainable future, where water is cherished and ecosystems thrive.

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