Written by Thusitha K. de Silva.

As part of its commitment to empowering youth for climate action, UNICEF Philippines, in collaboration with UNICEF Indonesia country office, recently hosted a Regional Youth Learning Exchange on Climate Change and WASH in Jakarta, Indonesia. The event, held on May 8th, brought together youth delegates from the Philippines and Indonesia to showcase their innovative solutions for WASH challenges.

Prof. Thammarat Kootatep, Co-Director of GWSC and a Professor of the Environmental Engineering Management program and a leading expert in sanitation served as the keynote speaker. His presentation focused on the complex relationship between climate risks and sanitation systems, particularly in urban and rural contexts.

Key areas explored in his keynote included:

  • Emerging challenges in sanitation, such as fecal sludge management.
  • The impact of climate change on WASH systems and the need for adaptation, resilience, and mitigation strategies.
  • The importance of inclusive planning that integrates low-income communities.
  • The potential of sustainable models and innovations, including life-cycle cost considerations and financing mechanisms.
  • Balancing advanced technological solutions with nature-based approaches.

Prof. Thammarat also presented a case study of Thongthawil Service Co., Ltd., a profitable fecal sludge management (FSM) company. This case study showed the youth on the concept of profitable yet Sustainable and efficient sanitation systems.

The keynote concluded with a thought-provoking points for the youths to ponder on the future of sanitation:

  • Should the focus be on achieving “sustainable” or “inclusive” sanitation?
  • Can sanitation systems create positive impacts beyond simply preventing negative ones?
  • Is there potential for “regenerative” sanitation systems that contribute to environmental restoration