Alumni Online Seminars

IHE Delft Alumni Online Seminars are designed as a means of providing lifelong learning to the Institute alumni community. Since the topics will be of interest to a broader audience, they are open to all interested persons. The Online Seminars are like interactive lectures transmitted over the web, with a duration of one hour including time for discussion.

An overview of our recent Alumni Online Seminars

Seminar: Panama Canal Expansion: Building the future, honoring the past

Date 23 May 2017

The expanded Panama Canal was opened to maritime traffic on 26 June 2016. There are many documentaries and presentations available featuring both the global impact on seaborne trade and the engineering challenges inherent to the construction of this brand new mega-structure.

Nevertheless, this presentation “Panama Canal Expansion: Building the future, honouring the past seeks to share knowledge and add value by showing also: the paramount importance of Chagres River basin development; the engineering solutions for the original Panama Canal; insights from the actual construction of the new set of locks and an illustrative, yet brief and concise comparison between  the main technical features of both the original and the new Panama Canal.

About the Speaker

Mr. Oscar Soto Reyes is a civil engineer graduated from the Technological University of Panama who holds an MSc degree in Management of Logistics and Transportation from Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg Sweden. Has very recently obtained his second MSc degree, in Coastal Engineering and Port Development, from UNESCO-IHE Delft, now IHE Delft. Oscar has 15 years of experience in both the governmental and private sectors, as well as in the fields of inspection, consultancy and management of construction contracts.Oscar has worked for the Panama Canal Authority since year 2009, firstly as Resident Civil Engineer, Quality Assurance Engineer and Site Coordinator for the construction of the 'Third Set of Locks of the Panama Canal' and later as Supervisor Civil Engineer for the construction of the 'Third Bridge over the Panama Canal',  both projects on the Atlantic side of the Canal.

Watch the video here.

’Water Accounting+, democratizing data for better decision making´ Description

Date 21 March 2017

Water Accounting + aims to provide water managers with accurate and timely data about water availability and accessibility. By democratizing the information, this approach institutes transparent and accountable decision making, and so further empowers all stakeholders.

Water connects people. According to the United Nations, there are 263 transboundary lake and river basins covering almost half of the earth's land surface, which amounts to 40% of its population. 145 countries have some territory within international basins. While most of these are shared between two countries, for many the number is much higher. Given the degree to which water sources are shared, it has acted as a catalyst for both cooperation and conflict, within and across borders. Transboundary water challenges are ever-present. Perhaps the biggest flashpoint is water scarcity, where demand exceeds supply, often because of allocation decisions upstream. It can equally be due to political and institutional dynamics, such as poor governance. Increasingly, regions around the world are at risk from water security. On current population growth trends, the United Nations estimates that by 2025, around 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions facing water scarcity. Additionally, climate change is also making its mark on the water cycle, with increased variability of flooding, rainfall and droughts. The social and economic consequences are profound. Livelihoods are affected when industries and agriculture which rely on water for production, are deprived access to a supply.

At times of water challenges, diagnosing the root cause of the problem, and so being able to implement an effective solution is problematic. Water Accounting was an approach developed more than 20 years ago, which set out to aid decision making by measuring how much water goes into and out of a basin, monitoring how the water is used during that journey. It sought to standardize terminology and introduce accurate data. As well as looking at the hydrological aspects of the water cycle, it also takes into account more broadly the resulting benefits and services. However, it has faced a number of hurdles.

Examples abound of Ministries of water and agriculture not collaborating; agencies maintaining their own databases fed by their own network of field sensors; and national governmental data not being shared with provincial entities responsible for operational water management such as irrigation districts, and vice versa. Across national borders this secrecy can be even more pronounced with data often jealously guarded, as water is viewed as a vulnerable asset. Two important consequences of this state of affairs for Water Accounting have been that data was often, by necessity, based on ‘best estimates’ and decisions about water allocation were often taken in isolation from stakeholders, behind closed doors.  

Remote sensing technologies are offering powerful tools to address shortfalls in the WA methodology. Professor Wim Bastiaanssen will explain the advantages of Water Accounting + and how it provides a solid basis for unbiased information which does not require widespread collaboration across organizations, with agreed means of collection, and to known quality standards. The data is crucially also often already in the public domain through dedicated centres. You will have the opportunity of asking him questions by Twitter - read instructions below.

About the Speaker

Wim G.M. Bastiaanssen (Ph.D) is a senior remote sensing expert with a specialization in agricultural water management. He has a background in agro-hydrology from Wageningen University. Wim Bastiaanssen holds the UNESCO Chair for Global Water Accounting and is a Senior Fellow to the Robert Daugherty Water for Food Institute of the University of Nebraska (Lincoln). Wim Bastiaanssen is a Professor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at the Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) in the topic Water Resources Management and Remote Sensing and is a professor of global water accounting at IHE Delft. With Ph.D. students, he conducts research on determining earth surface hydrological and water management processes from satellite measurements including rainfall, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, biomass production, crop water productivity, surface runoff, withdrawals for irrigation and wetlands and groundwater interactions. This forms the basis for regional scale water accounting studies. Wim Bastiaanssen is the lead developer of Water Accounting Plus (WA+). Through the repository, Wim produces open access water accounts for river basins, that can be used by all stakeholders involved in the strategic planning of scarce water resources.

Watch the video here.

Seminar: Sharing our Water: Water justice issues in the Anthropocene

Date 26 November 2016

In the context of the Anthropocene, the newest geological era in the history of the Earth, there is limited water for human use and human use must stay within ecosystemic limits. Such water use needs to be equitably shared between uses and users.

However, past to present patterns of water ownership, water pricing and financialization, water pollution and the impacts of climate change are such that they exacerbate water related injustices at local through to global level.  If these patterns continue into the future, water will have become completely privatized and/or securitized and water pricing will reach monopoly levels; while the impacts of water pollution and climate change will be externalized.

This presentation illustrates this story through examples of water conflicts from local through to global level (e.g. from transboundary water disputes on the Nile vs Mekong to the role of Coca Cola in India and Nestle in the US).

About the Speaker

Joyeeta Gupta is Professor of Environment and Development in the Global South at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research of the University of Amsterdam and Professor of Law and Policy in Water Resources and Environment at UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft. She is also a member of the Amsterdam Global Change Institute.

She is editor-in-chief of International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics (IF 2.0) and is on the editorial board of journals like Carbon and Law Review, International Journal on Sustainable Development, Environmental Science and Policy, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Catalan Environmental Law Journal, Review of European Community and International Environmental Law and the new International Journal of Water Governance.

She was, and continues to be, lead author in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which recently shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore and of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment which won the Zaved Second Prize. She has published extensively. She is on the scientific steering committees of many different international programmes including the Global Water Systems Project and Earth System Governance.

Please visit Joyeeta Gupta's profile pages on the websites of:

Watch the video here.

Seminar: ‘Water and the SDGs - A Vision on Water for Healthy People and a Healthy Environment’ Description

Date 24 October 2016

In September last year, the United Nations adopted the new post-2015 development agenda “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. Agenda 2030, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, is a historic plan to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and move towards a sustainable development path over the next 15 years. SDG 6, which aims to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’, is central to the success of this transformative agenda. SDG 6 not only addresses the issues relating to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, but also the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide. Water is also key in ensuring success for all other SDGs.  

Many regions all over the world are facing tremendous challenges in managing water. With rapid urbanization, cities leave a considerable ‘footprint’ on their catchments, not only due to unbalanced water abstractions and wastewater discharges, but also due to disturbances in the local hydrological cycle. Many regions are therefore experiencing serious limitations related to water quality (water pollution, increased treatment costs) and quantity (droughts/floods, over-abstraction of ground and surface water), and are vulnerable to extreme weather events.

With rapidly growing water consumption and increasing frequency of extreme weather events, we need to change current ad-hoc water management practices (problem/incident driven) towards coherent, integrated and consolidated approaches (sustainability driven). To achieve that, transformational changes in water management and infrastructure approaches are needed. Besides, it requires revisiting current water use practices, in particular our food production systems, which account for about 70% of fresh water use globally.

This presentation will review the role of water in Agenda 2030, and focus in particular on the water-energy-food nexus. These three sectors are at the heart of sustainable development and present the key building blocks for sustainable cities and a green economy. The presentation therefore will argue that transformational shifts will be needed in these three sectors to be able to balance people and planet. The transformation towards ‘New Water’, ‘New Food’, and ‘New Energy’, will lead the way towards a sustainable future.

About the Speaker

Prof. Hubert Gijzen holds a PhD in Environmental Biotechnology, and has an established career of over 34 years in both academics and in international cooperation. He has worked in academic institutions and universities, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Institutes, and the United Nations. Throughout his career, he has lived and worked in various countries and regions in Africa, South America and Caribbean, South Asia, South-East Asia and Europe, in a range of senior functions as Full Professor and Chair in Universities, as a diplomat, Regional Representative, Team leader, and currently as UNESCO Regional Director and Representative. He has implemented short missions to over 100 countries, and has developed and managed large capacity building, research and cooperation programmes and projects, including the EU funded R&D project SWITCH on “Water in the City of the Future”, for which he served as Project Director, and which earned the IWA Sustainability Award.

Besides his current work as UNESCO Regional Director and Representative, he continues to hold positions as full Professor at UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education (since 1995) and at Wageningen University. Hubert has published over 400 articles and books, and presented numerous keynotes in the fields of water management, microbiology, environmental sciences, biotechnology, and sanitary and environmental engineering. He also covered topics on international cooperation, sustainable development, the MDGs, SDGs and climate change. He serves in various international advisory functions and on Boards of prestigious Institutes and programmes.

Hubert Gijzen joined UNESCO in 2006 as Director of the UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, based in Jakarta. In addition, he was the UNESCO Representative for Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Timor Leste. Since 1 January 2015, Hubert was appointed as the Regional Director of the newly established UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa in Harare and UNESCO Representative to Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and to SADC.  He also serves on the UN Regional Directors team in Africa (UNDG-ESA).

Watch the video here.