15-year-old Johannes van der Poel has been installed as chairman of the national youth water board on 17 February. He is the youngest chairman ever.

In his maiden speech Van der Poel mentioned the importance to involve young people in water management.

The national youth water board is a group of young people between 14 and 18 years, representing all regional water authorities in the Netherlands for a maximum period of two years.

dws-uvw-youth-chair-van-der-poel-speech5-350pxRegional governance
Johannes van der Poel is a student and since 2015 he represented the regional water authority Vallei and Veluwe.

In November he was elected as the new chairman. Now he was officially installed.

"I applied because the administrative side interested me," Van der Poel said. "After being appointed, I really got interested in the water aspects of the regional governance."

One of his election promises is to keep the water taxes as low as possible.

dws-uvw-youth-chairman-poel-visit-schultz-350pxjpgThe Youth water board visiting Dutch minister Schultz van Haegen (left) of Infrastructure and environment.

Autonomous regional water management
The Netherlands has 23 autonomous regional water authorities that are responsible for the regional flood defences, quality and quantity of the regional water system and treatment of municipal waste water.

Their boards are elected, making them democratic governmental bodies, independent from the national government and other local authorities like provinces and municipalities.

Dutch regional water authorities levy their own taxes to maintain the local flood defences and to treat the waste water.

Each board is headed by a chair, in English called dike warden, an ancient office that dates back to the medieval period.

This independent status within a national water governance structure is unique in the world.

Raising awareness
The Youth water board was initiated in 2011 and every two year, young people between 14 and 18 years, are elected to represent their local regional water authority.

The main purpose of the Youth water board is to raise awareness for regional water management among the young generation.

The young board members give lectures at schools and are active on social media.

(photos of installation ceremony: Rianne van de Heuvel / Waterschap Vallei en Veluwe)

More information
Jeugdwaterschap (in Dutch only)
Dutch water authorities
The Hague, the Netherlands
+31 70 351 97 51