Published: May 12, 2015
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CU-Boulder’s third annual WASH Symposium gave nearly 100 attendees an insider’s look into the development of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), a proposed set of targets for international development that are set to replace the Millennium Development Goals when they expire at the end of 2015.

The event featured a keynote address by Clarissa Brocklehurst, a former chief of UNICEF’s WASH program who is currently serving on the committee to consider SDG proposals. Symposium lead coordinator and environmental engineering master’s student Choolwe Mandona said the policy-oriented presentation was engaging for the diverse symposium audience, which included both engineering and public health students, as well as representatives from local non-governmental organizations and other industry groups.

“SDGs are the basis of what we’re doing as engineers and affects the goals for the NGOs, so people had a lot of questions,” she said.

Speakers at the student-organized Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Symposium also included Ned Breslin, CEO of Water for People; George Washington University professor Jay Graham; and Jesse Shapio, WASH advisor for USAID.

“The speakers came because the next people who are going to be in their shoes are us,” Mandona said. “They wanted to talk to students.”

She added that the student organizers is looking to attract an even more diverse set of speakers for next year, while still maintaining the simplicity of the event.

“Most of the people are at the top and may not be on the ground as much as others,” Mandona said. “We really want genuine discussions that will bring out visible solutions.”

To keep the momentum going, the event’s student organizers have decided to form an official WASH Club that would be active throughout the year. They hope the group will attract students from CU-Boulder’s Sustainable Practices Program, as well as those who have an interest in public health. The club is still in the process of organizing, but you can visit their website at to find out the latest news.