The Marvelous Experience of a Myanmar Young Water Professional at the OzWater’19
Written by Pyae Phyo Kyaw
It was around mid-march when I saw a post on the Myanmar Water Portal website that scholarships were available for international young water professionals from the Indo-Pacific region to attend Ozwater'19 this May. Ozwater is Australia's international water conference and exhibition, which is run annually by the Australian Water Association.
As an active young water professional in the urban water sector, I was thrilled to apply for the scholarship. Before applying for it, I thoroughly researched the event and I found out that the topics covered in the conference were relevant to my current work. With the utmost enthusiasm, I applied for the scholarship. Fortunately, I was selected to represent Myanmar as one of the young water professionals.
This year, the Ozwater theme was "Transforming our World". To fulfill that vision, 16 young water professionals received grants from the Australian Water Partnership to partake in the Ozwater'19. From 6th to 10th May, we had the opportunity to join the Young Water Professional Program, and attend the networking events, conference sessions and site tours. I will briefly highlight my 5-day experience at this event.
My first day kicked off with the Young Water Professionals Program. The program covered a range of subjects: communication, collaboration, diversity, inclusion, cultural values in water management, participatory decision-making, and unconscious biases.
Young Water Professionals Program (Photo Credit: Australian Water Association)
One of the speakers from the program, Troy Brockbank (New Zealand Young Water Professional of the Year 2018) shared about successful culturally-enhanced water co-management approaches with examples based on his own experiences. Being aware of the complexity of Myanmar water issues, his talk was a great input to reflect on. I realized how Myanmar, a birthplace of many culturally rich indigenous people, can only incorporate long-term integrated water management solutions by combining modernity and cultural values together.One of the workshops in the program, "Unconscious Bias", was facilitated by Duncan Smith, Principal of ADC Associates. He thoroughly explained about the types of unconscious biases and how they can affect our day-to-day decision-making. He used a remarkable quote from Robert Davies in his presentation – "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend". Being only human, we tend to judge and stereotype people based on their race, gender, skin color and age. He carefully explained the importance of diversity and inclusion and how we can manage our own unconscious biases. It was an intriguing session. Many thoughts came into my mind as the root of most problems in our country is correlated to our unconscious biases.
Over the next three days, I joined multiple conference sessions focused on water quality and health, water sensitive urban design, asset management, project community engagement, social inclusion, city-scale planning, and many more. The exhibition hall was also filled with numerous water enterprises displaying their cutting-edge technologies. Most of their products were fascinating.
Networking event organized by the Government of Victoria (Photo Credit: Dara Chea)
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