Elon Musk among attendees at water forum Mississauga youth joins in Bali


Published June 12, 2024 at 2:58 pm

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A Mississauga youth was among hundreds of scholars, world leaders and business people including Elon Musk at the World Water Forum in Bali last month.

Alyssa D’Addio, 24, who grew up in Mississauga and graduated from Erindale Secondary School, attended the World Water Forum in Bali.

D’Addio studied international development at the University of Ottawa and will attend the University of Toronto Mississauga for a Master of Science in sustainability management this fall.

She was selected to attend the World Water Forum after taking a course at the International Institute for Sustainable Development with Emily Kroft, an award-winning youth engagement and water policy officer. D’Addio applied for the opportunity and was chosen.

Kroft and D’Addio attended pre-forum events and the forum from May 15 to 24 thanks to sponsorship from Wawanesa Insurance.

D’Addio said she wanted to learn more about water sustainability and possibly incorporate it into her future studies.

“Funnily enough, I didn’t know much about water, just that in Canada, we really take it for granted,” D’Addio told insauga.com.

The forum is the biggest water event in the world. Attendees discuss sustainable development projects, and people come together to discuss solutions to water challenges occurring around the world.

D’Addio attended the World Youth Parliament for water, a youth leadership and advocacy event with preparatory sessions and a general assembly leading up to the forum. She learned about the Indonesian water context and went on a field trips.

In one trip, she joined other youth in picking up plastic pollution in a mangrove forest. The group reflected on the different brands of water bottles they found during the clean-up and noted one was a main sponsor of the World Water Forum.

“So it was really ironic to see they had a pavilion and were talking about everything that they’re doing about for water, but they weren’t talking about plastics and how their plastics are ending up in and polluting the waterways,” D’Addio said.

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D’Addio participates in a plastic clean-up in Bali.

The forum included several sessions and talks from water experts in the field from both the private and non-profit sectors. The experts shared ideas and research on how water resources can be made available to everyone.

In one session, she heard from women in different countries where human rights to safe water are threatened. A Palestinian woman spoke about how the water utility company is under Israel’s control. Another woman spoke about advocating for community-driven and participatory approaches to implementing water projects.

Overall, D’Addio said she learned how increased demand for water could impact the future. New technology, industries and agriculture need water for production, cooling and other uses.

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“Water is severely undervalued. It’s both the most important and most poorly managed resource on Earth,” she said.

Demand could put a huge strain on this resource.

“And I’m afraid that it’s going to come down to certain kind of more privileged, rich countries having control over those resources, and then less developed countries getting left out, which we’re already seeing,” she said.

D’Addio said among the leaders, experts and other officials, billionaire businessman Elon Musk attended as the opening speaker. Musk suggested the water crisis is solvable due to movements in desalination. He also fielded questions from the audience.

D’Addio said she did not make it to Musk’s talk or see him.

The experience at the forum will likely carry over to D’Addio’s future. She hopes to bring the topic into her future studies.

“I could definitely see it having a huge influence on the research that I undertake in my second-year Master’s paper,” she said. “It’s not talked about as much as other areas in sustainability, like carbon emissions or sustainable buildings, for instance. But I’d say it’s equally important.”

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