The expansion of the EarthEcho Water Challenge Ambassador program to Spain for a new Water Challenge Ambassador Catalonia cohort was made possible through the incredible support of the Xylem Watermark volunteers based in Spain. This team of Watermark volunteers championed by Roberto de Paco included Juan Manuel Deffis, Lidia Carpi, David Cerdà, Giulio Canegallo, Rafael Álvarez and Elena Aguilera. The group supported the EarthEcho International team in recruiting and mentoring a new cohort of young people ages 14-22 to serve as Water Challenge Ambassadors, a network of youth with the tools and training to lead community science and watershed protection projects leveraging the EarthEcho Water Challenge. Xylem volunteers implemented a mentorship model to support the Ambassadors to conduct water quality monitoring throughout Catalonia adding to the 1.7 million community scientists activated across 150 countries. 

Roberto de Paco, who serves as a lead Watermark Champion for the Xylem team in Barcelona, led the effort to host the first in-person training for the new Water Challenge Ambassadors Catalonia at Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona. Roberto provided enthusiastic support for the program, making lasting connections with Ambassadors and facilitating ongoing communication with them and the EarthEcho team. With the support of Xylem Watermark, this unique experience equipped the 15 new Ambassadors with the tools they need to conduct monthly water monitoring efforts in their communities and implement water improvement projects such as education events, presentations, and beach cleanups by the Summer of 2022. The Ambassadors left this training feeling empowered to lead events that will educate their communities about the importance of waterway conservation.

Roberto took the lead in scheduling calls, generating group discussions, and following up with the Ambassadors to build toward a culminating event for World Water Day 2022. On Tuesday, March 22, 2022, EarthEcho’s Philippe Cousteau teamed up with Xylem President and CEO Patrick Decker and (Barcelona) hometown hero and Guardiola Sala Foundation Board member Pep Guardiola to deliver inspirational opening and closing remarks for local students at the CosmoCaixa science museum in Barcelona, Spain. Over 140 students from local schools participated in unique activities led by Watermark volunteers, Water Challenge Ambassadors, and local partners connecting to the health of local water resources through water quality testing, sustainability demonstrations and local water conservation education. Roberto and his team were key to assuring that everything ran smoothly for World Water Day.

“It has been a great pleasure and very engaging for me, and the rest of the Xylem volunteers, to work together with EarthEcho and the Guardiola Sala Foundation this year. We, at Xylem, are passionate about solving water challenges. Unfortunately, more and more often, we face some of these challenges in Catalonia. With this collaboration, we were able to share our passion with young people and actively contribute to building a better future towards cleaner water.”
-Roberto de Paco, Business Development Director, Building Services and Industry, South West Europe

The depth of the Water Challenge Ambassador Catalonia program is due to the active support of the Xylem volunteer team, a group of people deeply invested in water conservation in their community, and mentoring the next generation of water advocates through the Water Challenge Ambassadors. 

The impact of the partnership among EarthEcho International, the Guardiola Sala Foundation, and Xylem Inc. is best expressed by the youth, like Ariadna, a Water Challenge Catalonia Ambassador, who stated:

“I have really enjoyed the role as an Ambassador, preparing and organizing activities and, above all, teamwork”.

EarthEcho looks forward to continued collaboration with Roberto and all of the amazing Watermark volunteers in Spain as we continue to mobilize young people in Catalonia. We are deeply grateful for Roberto’s partnership in building a model of intergenerational support for groups of Water Challenge Ambassadors worldwide. We look forward to working with Xylem volunteers to implement this model in their local communities with new Water Challenge Ambassador cohorts.