Alumni Online Seminars

Online seminars form part of lifelong learning resources we offer to the Institute's Alumni and Partners. The one-hour seminars feature webcast interactive lectures and discussions. Organized by IHE Delft in collaboration with The Water Channel, the seminars focus on topics selected to suit the interests of alumni and partners, but they are of interest also to a broader audience – feel free to invite colleagues and others who may be interested. Participation is free.

Upcoming seminar

Date: 9 December 2021 

Time: 11:45 to 12:45 CET (Click here for timing at your local timezone)

Topic: "Summary of IPCC AR6 WGI report: Sea level rise and Regional climate change"

Speaker: Dr. Roshanka RanasingheProfessor of Climate Change Impacts & Coastal Risk

The event is free. Please register here to receive a link to join the meeting platform.


The seminar by Prof. Roshanka Ranasinghe, Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC AR6 WGI report, will summarise the key findings on Sea level rise and how 33 different climatic hazards (i.e. climatic impact-drivers) are projected to change in 44 different sub-regions of the world. 


About the speaker

Prof. Dr. Roshanka (Rosh) Ranasinghe holds the AXA Chair in Climate Change Impacts and Coastal Risk at the Department of Coastal & Urban Risk & Resilience, IHE Delft and at the Department of Water Engineering and Management, University of Twente. He is also a Senior Specialist at Harbour, Coastal and Offshore department (Hydraulic Engineering Unit) at Deltares.
He actively contributes to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) process. Rosh is Coordinating Lead Author in Chapter 12, a lead author of the Summary for Policy Makers, and contributing author in Chapters 9, 11 and Atlas of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). He is also a Contributing Author in the IPCC Special report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC).
To date, Rosh has published over 200 peer reviewed articles and delivered numerous presentations around the world. He is regularly invited to provide expert advice on adaptation to climate change and coastal zone management by national and local governments and international agencies. Rosh is an advisor to the Marine Environment Protection Authority (Sri Lanka).


Previous seminars

Modelling human-flood interactions

Date: 11 November 2021 


The negative impacts of floods are attributed to the extent and magnitude of a flood hazard, and the vulnerability and exposure of natural and human elements. In flood risk management (FRM) studies, it is crucial to model the interaction between human and flood subsystems across multiple spatial, temporal and organizational scales. Models should address the heterogeneity that exists within the human subsystem, and incorporate social institutions that shape the behaviour of individuals.

This seminar provides an overview of the Coupled flood-Agent-Institution Modelling framework (CLAIM) and a methodology to build holistic FRM models that are capable of simulating coupled human-flood interactions. CLAIM integrates actors, institutions, the urban environment, hydrologic and hydrodynamic processes and external factors which affect FRM activities. The framework draws on the complex system perspective and conceptualizes the interaction of floods, humans and their environment as drivers of flood hazard, vulnerability and exposure. The human and flood subsystems are modelled using agent-based models and hydrodynamic models, respectively. The two models are dynamically coupled to understand human-flood interactions and to investigate the effect of social institutions on FRM policy analysis.

About the Speaker: 

Dr Yared Abayneh Abebe is a Researcher in the H2020 project RECONECT at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education. He is involved in developing models for planning and evaluating nature-based solutions that reduce hydro-meteorological risk.

Previously, Yared worked on a project that focused on flood risk reduction in Small Island Developing States. The project was part of the Regional Risk Reduction Initiative which was implemented by UNDP Barbados and the OECS. His main achievements include developing nearshore bathymetry using satellite and sonar data, modelling coastal and inland flooding, assessing flood hazard, vulnerability and risk and evaluating different structural and non-structural flood risk reduction measures.

Yared earned his PhD from TU Delft and IHE Delft in December 2020 with Cum Laude (Distinction). His thesis on modelling human-flood interactions was awarded the 2021 Technical Steven Hoogendijk Prize of the Batavian Society of Experimental Philosophy) after a jury selected the thesis as the best among 40 Cum Laude theses defended at TU Delft in the past two years. Profile link


"Nature-based solutions for disaster and climate resilience"

Date: 08 October 2021


The seminar, hosted by Dr. Zoran Vojinovic, focuses on hydro-meteorological risks such as severe floods, storm surges, landslides, avalanches, hail, windstorms, droughts, heat waves and forest fires – events that occur almost daily. Such events are expected become more frequent and severe due to climate change, degradation of ecosystems, population growth and urbanisation. Innovative solutions in which natural processes and ecosystems help solve different types of societal and environmental challenges – so-called Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) - have emerged as effective means to respond to such challenges. The seminar will focus on NBS and their application, using experience from one of the largest European Commission-funded NBS project RECONECT as examples.

Economic and other losses from natural disasters are increasing throughout the world. According to the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT), over the last 70 years, hydro-meteorological disasters have shown the fastest rate of increase of all disaster types. In parallel, technological capabilities to manage such disasters have advanced rapidly. This paradoxical situation can be viewed as a result of our disconnected developments underpinning broader global environmental and sustainability problems as well as our fragmented ways of dealing with natural disasters.
Using NBS for hydro-meteorological risk reduction and building climate-resilient landscapes offers the possibility to break away from traditional practices and enable to reconnect our land management practices and developments with nature in order to achieve multiple benefits to ecosystem services and functions of ecosystems. However, cost-effective design and implementation of NBS is only part of the answer – these solutions need to be adapted to diverse local and cultural contexts and integrated into broader land and risk management strategies. They require holistic perspectives and frameworks. At this time, there are no examples of successful NBS use to reduce hydro-meteorological risk and increase climate resilience that can be upscaled and replicated. There is a clear need for effective demonstration and evaluation of NBS to build an evidence base.

About the Speaker: 

Zoran Vojinovic is Associate Professor at IHE Delft with expertise in Urban Water Systems, Risk Assessment, Climate Change Adaptation and Hydroinformatics. He is the author/co-author of a  book series in Urban Hydroinformatics. He is Honorary Professor at the University of Exeter, Adjunct Professor at the National Cheng Kung University, Visiting Professor at the University of Belgrade and Guest Faculty at the Asian Institute of Technology. He serves as the Project leader for the RECONECT project.


"Simple sewage treatment processes in low and middle-income countries"

Date 27 July 2021


The presentation will give an overview of simple sewage treatment processes that can be applied in warm-climate regions and also in low-and-middle-income countries. The processes covered are stabilization ponds, constructed wetlands, overland flow, UASB reactors and post-treatment of anaerobic effluents. A comparison is made between their typical performances and characteristics, including their capacity to remove the major macro-pollutants of interest in domestic wastewater: organic matter, nitrogen, phosphorus and pathogens.

About the Speaker: 

Marcos von Sperling is a civil engineer, working in the field of wastewater treatment for more than 40 years. He is a full professor at the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He is very proud of being an IHE Delft alumnus, following the course he took in 1980-1981. From 2013 he came back to IHE Delft as a guest lecturer, teaching natural wastewater treatment processes. His PhD is in Environmental Engineering from Imperial College London (1990). He is editor of the International Water Association (IWA) Journal on Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, and a former chair of the IWA Specialist Group on Wastewater Pond Technology. He is the author of seven English textbooks on wastewater treatment (open access by IWA Publishing), which were translated into Portuguese and Spanish. He has been nominated an IWA Fellow and an International Honorary Member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES), and is the recipient of the IWA Global Water Award 2021.


Questions & answers

Can quick long-term assessments of refugee impacts on the hosting natural environment be conducted from freely available remote sensing data?

Date 22 June 2021

Fewer studies exist in the use of freely available remote sensing data with significant temporal coverage to monitor refugee impact on the natural environment. Multiple studies on analyzing environmental impacts of refugee camps utilize sophisticated techniques that often require significant time input. Is there a quicker way to go about this? The use of indices with satellite imagery from 1984, has been explored in eight Ethiopian refugee camps from both wet and dry climatic contexts to monitor their impact on the natural environment (land cover, vegetation, and surface water areas). The research also assessed potential relationships between the identified impacts and the refugee numbers and surrounding community over time. The methodological pros and cons of using indices from open access remote sensing data to monitor refugee impact on the surrounding natural environment were also determined.

About the Speaker: 

Ms. Shivan Kebirungi recently graduated from the Water Science and Engineering programme with specialization in Hydraulic Engineering and River Basin Development at IHE Delft. She has a back ground in civil engineering and has been working as a civil engineer with Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment since 2016. Here, she is responsible for designing and supervising the construction of water for production infrastructure projects such as earth dams, valley tanks and irrigation schemes, while working together with various implementing partners. 

"COVID-19 and Floods in South and Southeast Asia"


Floods are a regular occurrence in South and Southeast Asia. Over the past years, they have been increasingly erratic and severe. In cities as well as rural areas, floods often create emergency situations which needs relief and rescue efforts to be rolled out. In the year 2020, floods have hit India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Myanmar (among other countries) at a time when health and relief systems are under stress due to the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Join us at this webinar on December 8, 2020 at 0900 Central European Time, where flood-risk/ disaster risk management experts from these countries will lead discussions around some key questions around linkages between floods and COVID. The webinar will be interactive; you will be invited to share your questions and comments.


Chris Zevenbergen, Professor of Flood Resilience of Urban Systems at IHE Delft

Representing Vietnam: Nguyen Hong Quan, Vietnam National University & Tran Nguyen Hai, Duy Tan University

Representing Bangladesh: M. Shah Alam Khan, Bangladesh University of Engineering & technology

Speakers representing India: C.S.P. Ojha, IIT Roorkee

Artificial Intelligence on Water Resources

Hydroinformatics applications in Machine Learning, trends and alumni experiences

Date: 6 & 13 November 2020 


In recent years the increase of machine learning applications to water resources have allowed us to propose new solutions to complex problems. Alumni from the Hydroinformatics program have explored new areas that in many cases have led to implementations at different places in the world, and have shown to be able to compete with ongoing traditional solutions. For this seminar we will make an overview of some of the most recent ideas of applications of machine learning in Hydroinformatics. These presentations will be divided into two sessions that will cover forecasting problems. An introduction in both sessions to a variety of machine learning basic concepts will be given to introduce the topics, limitations and a friendly way to see the theory. The first seminar focused on how to understand the problem of forecasting and how machine learning has been applied to increase accuracy, understand uncertainty and provide extended lead times.  

About the Speakers:


Dr Ir Gerald A. Corzo has extensive experience in modelling water resources using advanced ICT technology.  Since the last four year he has been working on the use of global hydrological models ensembles and their uncertainty for climate change analysis. In 2012 he won the Tison award as a young scientist from the IAHR association. His work covers extreme natural events like the research in forecasting and analyzing flood and drought by the development of hydroinformatics technologies. In general, Artificial intelligence, Machine learning and Pattern Recognition have been applied in his thesis to solve problems in the water resources area. He has worked on different international institutions like Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the Technologic of Monterrey in Mexico. He has coordinated the statistics of the Climate change inventory of adaptation and mitigation actions for Latin-America, presented at the WWF in 2012.  

He is the chair of the session in Geo-statistics at the EGU conference and reviewer of multiple journals like the Environmental Software and Modelling, the Journal of Hydrology and the Hydrology and Earth System Science, and some conferences like international joint conference in Neural Computation (IJCNN - IEEE). 


MSc Teo Kai Wen graduated from Environmental Engineering at Nanyang Technology University of Singapore in 2011. She started her career with Singapore’s National Water Agency (PUB),  as a drainage planning engineer.  She was subsequently rotated to the hydrodynamic modelling team where she carried out 1D/2D hydraulic simulations, assessed flood risks and identified flood mitigation measures for areas in Singapore. During her stint with the modelling team, Kai Wen also worked on PUB’s R&D initiatives such as implementation of x-band weather radars at PUB installations and the Smart Drainage Grid network system.  In 2017, Kai Wen left Singapore for her PUB-sponsored MSc at IHE Delft, specialising in Hydroinformatics. Kai Wen completed her MSc research work on deep learning models for radar rainfall casting and flood forecasting before returning to Singapore in 2019.  She now serves in the Policy Planning department of PUB.

Case study: The Application of Deep Learning Models in Flood Forecasting in Singapore

To cater to the imminent threats of changing weather patterns and increase urbanisation, Singapore’s national water agency, PUB, aims to improve its flood forecasting system. In light of the recent advancement in deep learning, many studies have cited promising results of deep learning model (ConvLSTM) on radar rainfall nowcasting. Thus, KaiWen’s research work is dedicated to pilot study of the application of deep learning models (ConvLSTM and its variants) in the area of radar rainfall nowcasting and flood forecasting, for the case of Singapore. The deep learning model adopts a hybrid combination of convolutional neural network which is commonly used in computer vision tasks such as face recognition and image classification; and the recurrent neural network which is typically used in language translation. The deep learning models were trained using past observed radar images from Meteorological Service Singapore to forecast future water levels at 5 locations in Bedok Catchment of Singapore. The results of this research would be useful for tropical countries with dynamic weather patterns and small flashy catchments like Singapore.

MSc Jose Valles is a civil engineer with a master’s degree in water science and Engineering specialization Hydroinformatics in IHE-Delft the Netherlands. He has 9-year experience in Hydrological models, Data-Driven Models, hydrological forecasting, drought analysis, and impact of climate change on water resources in El Salvador and Uruguay. Before joining the National Directorate of Water of Uruguay (DINAGUA, for its acronym in Spanish), he worked as hydrological forecast in El Salvador at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador. Currently, he is the manager of the Situation and Forecast Room of DINAGUA Uruguay.

Case study: Flood Early Warning System in the Grande de San Miguel Catchment

Flood Early Warning System (EWS) has been implemented in the Grande de San Miguel catchment in El Salvador with local inhabitants, governmental sector, and the National Hydro-meteorological Service since 1998. Nevertheless, a rainfall-runoff forecast model has not been implemented in this catchment to predict and anticipate to flood conditions. In Jose Valles’s research work at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador (MARN), he proposed the implementation of Multilayer Perceptron Artificial Neural Network (MLP-ANN) model as operational flood forecast model in Grande de San Miguel catchment to address the short-term flood forecast. The MLP-ANN is defined by Solomatine and Wagener (2011) as a device that consists of several layers of mutually interconnected neurons, which transform the inputs using a multiparameter nonlinear transformation, so the resulting model is capable of approximate complex input-output relationships. The MLP-ANN models were trained and validated using past observed rainfall and discharge values from MARN to predict future flood conditions with a forecast lead time of 12 hours. The trained MLP-ANN forecast model uses real time observations from the catchment and provides a real time flood guidance for stakeholders and decision makers in El Salvador. The forecast model output can be seen in the following web address:

MSc Ing Daniel Vazquez Bado. Undergraduate training in Civil Engineering at the Universidad Catolica Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion (UCA), Paraguay. MSc in Hydroinformatics Modeling and Information Systems for Water Management at the UNESCO-IHE Institute, Delft, The Netherlands.

Official of the Itaipu Binacional and Coordinator of the International Center for Hydroinformatics (CIH). CIH belongs to the UNESCO Water Family, directly linked to the International Hydrological Program (IHP). At CIH, work is carried out in the areas of Information and Communication Technology, Territorial Sustainability through Watershed Management, Modeling in the area of Hydrology and Hydraulics, and Promotion of Education in Water and Environmental Sciences.

Case Study: Information System for Flood Early Warning

In this seminar, he will comment on the process of building an Information System for Flood Early Warning. This experimental project was carried out in cooperation with the Universidad Catolica Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion. Due to the good results obtained, a proposal is being worked on for its formal implementation in the national hydrological service in Paraguay.

MSc Mostafa Farrag, from Egypt, MSc and Marie-Curie Early stage researcher, is a civil engineer specialized in hydrological & hydrodynamic models who worked on the large-scale flood risk assessment on river-dyke-floodplain interoperability in the EU project SYSTEM-RISK ETN. Currently Mostafa works in GFZ Helmholtz centre Potsdam, and doing his PhD at Potsdam University in Germany to develop a 1D-2D hydrodynamic modelling software for a large-scale flood risk modelling and apply it for all German basins. He also has worked as a water environmental engineer for an international company in Egypt and had experience in design and analysis of wet utilities infrastructure in big projects in Asia and Africa. Mostafa Holds a MSc in Hydroinformatics from UNESCO-IHE Delft (2016-2018), his Master thesis focused on improving the performance of Hydrological models for flood forecasting by exploring a spatiotemporal simulation of dynamic weighting of hydrological models.

Case Study: Benefits of using a modular approach “The fuzzy committee model”

In this seminar, he will take about the benefit of using a modular approach, “The fuzzy committee model” of building specialized models to reproduce specific responses of the catchment, and the applicability of using predicted runoff from specialized models with certain weights based on a fuzzy membership function to form a fuzzy committee model.

'Dynamics of private smallholder irrigation using sand river aquifers in semi-arid lands'

Tuesday 15 September 2020


In many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, smallholders are increasingly participating in irrigation development using their private capital with minimal government or donor support. This kind of farmer-led irrigation development is crucial in achieving food security and alleviating poverty for millions of smallholders who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. An important driver for farmers to invest in irrigation is the availability of water and seasonal rivers commonly found in semi-arid areas contain shallow alluvial aquifers that have the potential of supporting smallholder irrigation.

However, private smallholder irrigation takes place in informal settings and the derived benefits, challenges and failures of farmers which shape their development trajectories are not well understood.  Its continued and unchecked spread also raises concerns about sustainable management of land and water resources.

The objective of this research was to therefore assess the characteristics of private smallholder development along a seasonal sand river in Southern Kenya including the drivers, challenges and trajectories of farmers’ development over time. The webinar will present the methodology and findings of the research.  

About the Speaker:

Mr. Benson Mutuma Karimba is a graduate engineer and researcher from Kenya. He recently graduated from IHE Delft with an MSc specialization in Land and Water Development for Food Security and won the WSE thesis Award 2020 under the theme of sustainability. Benson has an BSc in Soil, Water and Environmental Engineering from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and currently works in the Biosystems Engineering Department of Meru University of Science and Technology. He has also worked as a sales engineer in the private sector for 4 years dealing with the supply and installation of water pumps, drip irrigation systems and solar powered equipment. His research interest is in irrigation development and particularly strengthening of adaptability and resilience of smallholder farming systems.    

'Turning sea water into fresh water'

Thursday 16 July 2020


This webinar is a very first introduction to the field of desalination, which engineering professionals and students may use as a stepping stone in furthering their education in this topic. It discusses the drivers for desalination, the current desalination trends worldwide, the energy consumption and costs.

Learning outcomes:

•           Gain a knowledge base of what desalination entails

•           Understand the main drivers for desalination

•           Have an overview of the current world and regional desalination capacities

Webinar outline:

•           Why do we need desalination?

•           Desalination technologies: Distillation and Reverse osmosis

•           Desalination trends worldwide

•           Set-up of a desalination plant

•           Energy consumption and costs

•           IHE Delft in the field of desalination

About the Speaker:

Dr. Sergio Salinas is a desalination and water treatment technology professional and university lecturer, with experience in Latin America, Middle East, and Europe.

Sergio has a PhD in Desalination and Water Treatment from the Technical University of Delft, an MSc in Water Supply Engineering from UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, a Master’s in Irrigation and Drainage and a BSc in Civil Engineering from San Simon Major University. He also obtained the University Teaching Qualification in the Netherlands.

He has over 50 publications in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and conference proceedings in the areas of seawater and brackish water desalination, water treatment, water reuse, and natural organic matter characterization.

'The many meanings of menstruation: discussing menarche and womanhood with Zambian school girls'

19 June 2020


The strong link between African girls’ education and their menstruation became a taken-for-granted fact which prompted the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector to initiate the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) projects in schools. This has been done because barriers of access to menstrual hygiene (such as the unavailability of pads) have been identified as major obstacles to the educational advancement of adolescent girls in Africa (and the global south in general) resulting to poor health and economic insecurity. Therefore, MHM interventions are valued as important ways to “empower” global south women, by keeping them in school.

Research and interventions by the WASH sector and organisations conducting MHM have met with critiques from feminist scholars. These critiques have highlighted how MHM can reinforce imaginaries of superiority and “civilization” and that inequities aggravated by the lack of access to sanitation cannot be solved with technological fixes, such as the distribution of sanitary pads by MHM projects.

In order to contribute to these critical approaches, this research aimed to capture school girls’ own voices, thoughts, enthusiasms, and anxieties around menstruation and womanhood. It thus engaged with girls in two schools from urban Zambia, through photo-voice workshops. This webinar will present the findings of this research.

About the Speaker:

Ms. Amie Jammeh, is a scholar from the Gambia. She graduated from IHE Delft Institute for Water Education with an MSc in Sanitation. Amie have a BA degree in Plant Production from the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan. She also hold a Teacher Certificate in General Science and Social and Environmental Science from The Gambia College. For five years she worked as a graduate teacher, with a focus on delivering quality and innovative agricultural expertise, skills and knowledge. As a graduate teacher, she have worked to boost the removed ‘morals’ and interest of young people towards agriculture. Amie is interested in peri-urban livelihoods, Sub-Saharan Africa’s urbanization, sanitation, and gender.

'Open Education for water Professionals'

Date: 5 March 2020
Seven years ago, during the 2013 Open Education Week, IHE Delft launched the OpenCourseWare platform. Since then 82.533 people   have used our Open Educational Resources. In total they viewed over 933.000 pages. The number of Open Educational Resources IHE Delft offers is still growing. A good reason to celebrate that with this webinar during the Open Education Week 2020!
This webinar will look back at the lessons learnt and the achieved impact. We will also look ahead and discuss how Open Education fits within the broader range of educational products that IHE Delft and partner organisations offer, ranging from traditional face to face classes to blended learning and eLearning. We’ll look into how we can combine IHE Delft’s tradition of sharing knowledge for water professionals with responding to the changing needs of our learners and the increasing availability of internet-based tools.
Online and blended education substantially increases access to our educational offering because of lower costs and the flexibility it offers to study self-paced and combine it with work and family. This is especially relevant for our target group of (female) mid-career professionals from the Low and middle income countries in Africa, Middle East, Asia and Latin America & Caribe. In addition, traditional face-to-face education will benefit from the online courses, since learners will be able to study online and make better use of contact time with lecturers (“flip the classroom”). Furthermore, preparatory online courses allow participants to refresh knowledge of basic topics and learning skills, and obtain the required level to be able to fully benefit from. With eLearning we can offer graduates  the possibility to do one or more specialized courses in the years after graduation. Knowledge, insights and technologies relevant to the water sector are continuously evolving. Lifelong learning is an important element in the IHE Delft education programme. Online education and exchange of experience greatly facilitates continuous learning and upgrading of knowledge and skills. Finally, an optimal blend between face-to-face and online can substantially increase accessibility, economize air travel, time and money and reduce IHE Delft’s carbon footprint, an important part of our strategy of greening IHE Delft.
The webinar is great opportunity to exchange experiences on this topic and to learn from each other.
About the Speaker:

Dr. Hans van der Kwast is Senior Lecturer in Ecohydrological Modelling, Water Resources and Ecosystems Department at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education. He finished a Master in Physical Geography at Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 2002 with a specialization in GIS and Remote Sensing. In 2002 he was appointed at the Faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University as an junior lecturer in GIS, lecturing theory and concepts of GIS and Remote Sensing to MSc students. In 2009 he finished his PhD at Utrecht University on the integration of remote sensing in spatial dynamic modelling of soil moisture using open source software and open data. During his previous work at the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) in Belgium he participated in projects related to water quality, land-use change modelling and the use of remote sensing for urban applications. Since April 2012 he is appointed as a lecturer at IHE Delft. In his teaching and capacity-development projects he actively promotes the use of open source tools and open data by young professionals from the water sector in the Global South. For this purpose he has developed free and commercial educational products and is coordinating eLearning with partners of IHE Delft. He is a QGIS certified lecturer and co-authored the book QGIS for Hydrological Applications. Furthermore he is a board member of the Dutch QGIS User Group.

GROUNDWATER: Making the invisible visible

Date 12 December 2019

Groundwater provides almost half of all drinking water worldwide, about 40% of water for irrigated agriculture and about 1/3 of water required for industry. It sustains ecosystems, maintains the baseflow of rivers and prevents land subsidence and seawater intrusion. Groundwater is an important part of climate change adaptation process and is often a solution for people without access to safe water. Despite these impressive facts and figures, invisible groundwater is out of sight and out of mind for most people.

Human activities (including growth of population and wealth) and climate variability are increasing the pressure on groundwater resources; serious pollution and depletion problems are reported for many parts of the world. Nevertheless, we still do not know sufficient about the state of groundwater resources (aquifers) globally and we do not manage them well enough.

How can we improve visibility, knowledge of and the state of our groundwaters? Do we need to turn invisible in visible… or perhaps use some other magic to increase awareness about this precious resource? Talk about this with Neno in our webinar, he will share 15 years of experience of IGRAC (UN-affiliated global groundwater center), you might have a fresh view.  


About the speaker
r. Neno Kukuric is a hydrogeologist with about 30 years of experience gained in more than 20 countries worldwide. His professional interest is international water cooperation and application of informed management, encompassing technical, socio-economical, institutional and political aspects of water-related issues. Neno Kukuric is particularly involved in a global groundwater monitoring and assessment of transboundary aquifers. Since 2011, he’s served as a director of IGRAC, the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre of UNESCO.
Read more:

Note: It was an eventful online seminar, which was unfortunately ended quite abruptly due to a fire alarm. 

‘Coastal evolution and management: a new tool to understand the past and future'

4 July 2019


Sandy beaches are extremely valuable natural resources, providing a first line of defence against coastal storm impacts, as well as other ecosystem services such as ecological habitats and recreation areas. They often are an important part of nations’ heritage.  However, many of the world’s coastlines suffer erosion, due to interruption of sand flows from upstream and alongshore, sand mining and sea-level rise effects, especially in the vicinity of tidal inlets. As a result, the safety of ever-increasing populations against hazards such as overtopping, inundation and erosion is seriously undermined. A lack of reliable, widely usable models makes it difficult to develop sound, science-based strategies for managing complex sandy coasts. While the physics of beaches have been studied extensively and Delft has a strong reputation in developing useful models that are use worldwide, these are often too complex and time-expensive to use for engineering application at larger scales; other models are too simple to represent interesting cases such as sandy barriers, spits, spiral beaches and migrating tidal inlets and river mouths.

At IHE Delft, in collaboration with Deltares, we have recently developed a radically new method, ShorelineS, to hindcast and forecast coastline evolution. Though it is based on a relatively simple representation of wave-driven transport, the representation of the coastline as strings of coastline points that can freely develop and move about gives is a powerful behaviour that allows us to rapidly model coastal planform evolution, for cases ranging from the development of the Sand Engine to development of spits and from a moving river mouth in Senegal to moving barrier islands in Portugal and Alaska.

Input and calibration data for such modelling are available at an unprecedented scale (e.g. satellite imagery-derived coastlines) alongside ever more detailed global models and datasets of forcing conditions (wave climate, tides). This allows you to develop and calibrate a model of your own situation based on past observations, and then to simulate the future given a range of scenarios.

Though still under development, we believe a system can be developed where engaged citizens can analyse and simulate the coastal development in their areas, can see how human impact has altered their coast and what are sensible strategies to cope with increasing population pressure and climate change.

In the webinar I will first take you on a little tour along typical coasts, where we’ll see how even before climate change is kicking in we are facing serious problems, and how this may be exacerbated by sea level rise and changes in wind and wave climate. But, being engineers, we will not rest there, but try to work with a mix of solutions, hard and soft, nature-based where possible. I’ll show how a model like ShorelineS can play an important role in the evaluation of the problem and of possible solutions and I’d like to pick your brain on how you envisage tools like this being used, and what ideas you have for directions they could develop towards.

About the speaker
Prof. Dano Roelvink has 33 years of experience in coastal engineering and research. He has participated as team member and as project manager in a number of major consultancy projects related to coastal morphology. He has managed the development of the Delft3D model system for two- and three-dimensional simulation of waves, currents, water quality, ecology and morphodynamics, and has heavily contributed to development of the morphological part of this system. He has been actively involved in the EU-sponsored MaST-G6M and MaST-G8M, SASME, COAST3D, DELOS and MICORE research projects on coastal morphodynamics and currently participates in Risc-KIT. His field of expertise is in coastal hydrodynamics and morphodynamics modelling, in one, two or three dimensions. In 1993 he obtained a PhD-degree at Delft University of Technology, based on a thesis on the effect of surf beats on coastal profiles.
He has published over 100 articles on coastal hydraulics and morphodynamics in international journals and conference proceedings (Scopus h-index 28), and he has been a part-time Associate Professor at Delft University of Technology from 1990-2005 and presently holds an honorary Professorship there. Since 2005 he has been Head of the Chairgroup Coastal Systems & Engineering and Port Development at UNESCO-IHE, now IHE Delft; since then this group has grown quickly in staff, students, research and societal impact. He is a strong proponent of international scientific cooperation with various parties in order to further the state-of-the-art in morphodynamic modelling and has set up collaborative projects with the US Geological Survey, the US Office of Naval Research, the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as with numerous institutes in France, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Brazil and West-Africa.
Dano Roelvink has initiated and currently leads the development of XBeach, an open-source model for storm impacts on beaches, dunes, barriers and reef coasts. In 2011 he published a bestselling 'Guide to modeling coastal morphology' with World Scientific. In 2017 he received the International Coastal Engineering Award from the Coasts, Oceans, Ports and Rivers Institute (COPRI) of the American Society of Civil Egineers for ''his tremendous contributions in leadership and development of the theory and modeling of coastal morphodynamics, and for his role as an international educator in the field of coastal dynamics.

Prof. Roelvink was elected as this year's Coastal Award recipient for his relentless efforts to develop, publish and promote the use of open-source models for coastal hydrodynamics and morphology, several of which have become worldwide standards. Read more.

Why is fetching water considered as a women’s (or children’s) job?

Date 24 May 2019
Why is fetching water considered as a women’s (or children’s) job?
 In a tribal village in Zambia, fetching water has always been women’s (and children’s) job. This assignment of the role has its roots to the cultural norms of the place. These cultural norms affect the access to water. Access to water is understood as the ability to derive benefits from water for a given condition and in a particular situation. However, the benefits (or lack thereof) are reaped differently by men, women and children. The gendered norms thereby play a critical role in division of labour. Therefore, the objective of this research was to examine the role of gender to access water for domestic consumption, specifically within the existing institutional arrangements of Kapau, Western Province in Zambia. The research dissects these very institutions which affects meaningful participation of individuals in regards to access to water.
The webinar will present an overview of how the research was conducted and the findings.

About the speaker
Ms. Neha Mungekar recently graduated from IHE Delft from Water Management and Governance programme. Prior coming to the Netherlands, Neha worked as an urban designer with World Resources Institute (WRI) India, and before that, as an architect in various private organizations. As an urban designer, she was responsible for coordinating sustainable urban-planning projects while liaising with local municipalities, donors and project partners. Neha is also actively engaged in environmental photo-journalism and is a published documentary photographer where she aims to sensitize the readers on environment-related issues.

Towards better cities: with water, nature, and YOU: My learning moments during ten years of rubbing shoulders with stakeholders.

Date: 12 March 2019 

The domain of water is complex. It is the territory of many wicked problems where often there is no clarity of a simple solutions or consensus on the definitions of the problem for that matter. In such a context that involves multiple stakeholders with often conflicting agendas, it is crucial for the water experts to learn the art of effectively engaging with diverse stakeholders. This is no longer the challenge of social-scientists, but that of all of us so-called water experts. Engineers, modellers, ecologists, economists, whoever is engaged in addressing water problems need to deal with an increasingly complex and multifaceted groups of stakeholders to be effective. 
One of the unique opportunities of working at IHE is the near impossibility of avoiding working with different type of stakeholders! During our missions to different countries in the world, we encounter experts of different fields, bureaucrats, community members, business people, the list goes on. My adventures of stakeholder engagement are just that – what I learned, I learned not from formal learning, but on the job. While these encounters challenged me to move off from my comfort zone – that mainly consisted of the things we do with computers like modelling – they ultimately helped me to learn. In this short talk I would share some of the informative and hopefully interesting encounters was fortunate enough to participate in.

About the Speaker

Assela Pathirana is a Civil Engineer and hydrologist originating from Sri Lanka. He holds Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering, B.Sc.Eng. (First Class Honours) (1995) from University of Peradeniya Sri Lanka and Masters (1998) and Doctoral (2001) degrees in Civil Engineering, specializing in hydrology and water resources engineering, from Tokyo University. Next he worked as a senior research fellow of the Environment and Sustainable Development programme of United Nations University and later as a research scientist of the International Centre for Water Hazard Risk Management (UNESCO-ICHARM), before joining IHE Delft in year 2006. Currently he works as Associate Professor of Integrated Urban Water Cycle Management in the department of Water Science and Engineering in the core group of Flood Resilience.

'Communicating without words'

Date: 22 November 2018

Did you know that...

Of all land that is irrigated, 20% has become too salinized to farm. This means 1.6 million hectares are lost every year. In just over a decade we lost groundwater equivalent to 40 million Olympic-size swimming pools. Due to human activity, many deltas are sinking 5 times faster than sea levels are rising. There is a need to communicate the global water crises more widely. Not enough is being done in this direction. Water management happens across different regions, different sectors, and involves professionals of different specialization. In order that they all learn from each other’s work, it is important that they capture and communicate their experiences effectively. 

Communication tools are now available to all. Everyone can film, record, write, and publish online.  Scientists, researchers, project managers--- everyone is potentially a communicator. This is an opportunity for water professionals to use communication tools not just to disseminate, but also to collaborate, and source information. And to learn from peers a process known as horizontal learning. In this webinar, Lenneke Knoop and Abraham Abhishek from TheWaterChannel will present a framework of Communication for collaboration, research, and horizontal learning; and how tools like video and infographics can help implement it in water management. 


About the Speakers:

Ms. Lenneke Knoop (TheWaterChannel) has experience is in Natural Resource Management and Communications, with over 12 years’ experience working in the areas of NRM such as spate irrigation, water supply & sanitation and groundwater management. Over that time, she has also designed and delivered communication trainings for water sector professionals, educational institutions, and community-based organisations – in The Netherlands, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Bangladesh.


Mr. Abraham Abhishek (TheWaterChannel) has worked as a broadcast journalist, a researcher, and a communications expert for over 12 years; most recently in the field of water management. Over that time, he has produced several videos; and designed/managed projects applying videos and photography as tools for research and learning.     

‘Chasing the mosquitos in the Urban South, Aedes aegypti, water, and households’

Date 4 September 2018


In 2014 and 2015 various outbreaks of dengue were reported in Mozambique. In countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, such as Colombia, there have also been outbreaks of dengue, zika and chikungunya.

High percentages of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that most effectively transmits these diseases, were found in cities such as Pemba, Maputo, Barranquilla, and Buenaventura. Dengue, zika and chikungunya, and their transmission vector, mosquito Aedes aegypti are tied to water as this mosquito lays eggs in stored water in or around households.

This seminar describes the use of an ethnographic approach to study households, water supply availability, intermittence and distribution, and document politics and everyday community strategies to obtain and store water. It focuses on the interdependence between intermittent water supply, deficient solid waste collection, and the Aedes aegypti. It also takes into account the different legacies left by civil wars and rural crises on processes of unequal urbanization.

About the Speaker

Dr. Tatiana Acevedo Guerrero is a geographer with a background in political studies. She holds the position of Lecturer and Researcher in Politics of Sanitation and Wastewater Governance at the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education. The research of Tatiana focuses on the interactions between urban water flows, infrastructure, and communities, in the context of rapid unplanned growth and uneven development in cities of the global South.

She is concerned with the different relationships and histories that are reflected in access to (and exclusion from) water supply, sanitation, and drainage. Her research documents the ways in which residents of different neighbourhoods make water flow – not only to access (or store) drinkable water, but also to make other waters (human excreta, household wastewater and storm water) leave.

Her work also recognizes the entanglements between different infrastructures such as drainage, water supply, sanitation, solid waste collection, and electricity. For in the context of southern cities, where many infrastructures are characterized by long term breakdown and poor maintenance, infrastructures tend to be deeply intertwined because if one breakdowns the others will probably follow.

Tatiana’s most recent research has a comparative approach and is ongoing in Maputo and Pemba (Mozambique) and Barranquilla (Colombia). It investigates the connections between intermittent water supply, water storage practices, and Aedes aegypti. Through ethnographic and archival work, the project aims to describe the historical legacies and daily routines that link communities, stored water, and mosquitoes and understand what they might tell us about cities in the South. While her work comes under the sub-disciplines of political ecology and urban studies, it also examines a broad range of questions related to socio-technical networks, state formation, and citizenship.

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'Managing flood risk in semi-arid data scarce regions'

Date 7 June 2018

Globally, incidents of flooding have been on the rise over the last century. In semi arid regions such as the North African and Middle Eastern (MENA),  the World Bank has predicted an increase in flood vulnerability for the region over the next 20 years. The hydrological characteristics of these areas make them prone to flash floods due to short duration events, small area extent, high flood peaks and rapid flows. Combined with increased urbanisation and exposure these areas are subjected to increased flood risk resulting in loss of life and property. As a consequence there is the need for increased risk knowledge towards the implementation of resilient strategies. This seminar presents a brief introduction to the concepts of flood risk management and an overview of some suitable strategies applicable to coping with flash floods in semi arid regions. 

About the Speaker

Adele Young is a recent graduate of IHE Delft having just completed an MSc in Water Science and Engineering with a specialisation in Hydraulic Engineering and River Basin Development. At present, she is a participant in the advanced classes at IHE Delft where she is working towards the publication of her thesis research focused on using hydrological data for the characterisation and early warning of urban flooding in Alexandria, Egypt. Hailing from the island of Trinidad and Tobago, Adele has eight  years experience as a civil engineer, most recently working in the area of land and infrastructure development of greenfield and squatter upgrade projects in her home country. Coming from the Caribbean, she has a keen interest in disaster risk reduction, flood risk management and early warning systems especially in regions where data unavailability is seen as a major challenge to understanding and mitigating risk.

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'Water Cooperation & Diplomacy'

Date 6 March 2018

Water management *is* conflict management. Regardless of the scale, ensuring that the needs of the people and ecosystems that rely on this critical resource are met effectively requires comprehensive understanding of both water science and water cooperation & diplomacy, including dispute mitigation, management, and resolution.  his online seminar will investigate trends in water conflict management worldwide, and survey some skills necessary to address and transform water conflict at different scales, such as between users, sectors, states, and nations. 

About the Speakers: 
Dr. Aaron T. Wolf is a professor at Oregon State University and visiting professor in Water Diplomacy at IHE Delft.  He has an M.S. in water resources management and a Ph.D. in environmental policy analysis. His research focuses on issues relating transboundary water resources to political conflict and cooperation, where his training combining environmental science with dispute resolution theory and practice have been particularly appropriate.

Dr. Wolf has acted as consultant to the US Department of State, the US Agency for International Development, and the World Bank, and several governments on various aspects of international water resources and dispute resolution.  He has been involved in developing the strategies for resolving water aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including co-authoring a State Department reference text, and participating in both official and "track II" meetings between co-riparians.  He is author of Hydropolitics Along the Jordan River: The Impact of Scarce Water Resources on the Arab-Israeli Conflict (United Nations University Press, 1995); co-author of Core and Periphery: A Comprehensive Approach to Middle Eastern Water (Oxford University Press, 1997), Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Resolution: Theory, Practice and Annotated References (United Nations University Press, 2000), and Managing and Transforming Water Conflicts (Cambridge University Press, 2009); and editor of Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Water Systems (Elgar, 2002). All told, he is (co-) author or (co-) editor of seven books, and close to fifty journal articles, book chapters, and professional reports on various aspects of transboundary waters.
Dr. Wolf, a trained mediator/facilitator, directs the Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation, through which he has offered workshops, facilitations, and mediation in basins throughout the world.  He developed and coordinates the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database, which includes a computer compilation of 400 water-related treaties, negotiating notes and background material on fourteen case-studies of conflict resolution, news files on cases of acute water-related conflict, and assessments of indigenous/traditional methods of water conflict resolution (  He was also a member of UNESCO’s task force for the development of the Sixth Phase of the International Hydrology Program (2002-2007), the UNESCO/ADC Third Millennium Program on International Waters, and IWRA’s Committee for International Collaboration, and is a co-director of the Universities Partnership on Transboundary Waters. 

Ms. Zaki Shubber is UNESCO-IHE alumna and lecturer in law and water diplomacy at the IHE Delft. She holds an LLM in Water Governance and Conflict Resolution from the University of Dundee and an LLM in Public International Law from the University of London. Prior to joining IHE Delft, she worked as a lawyer in London. She now focuses on water law at a national and international level as well as on the judicial and non-judicial settlement of water disputes.

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'Climate Change and Water Scarcity'

Date 14 February 2018

The latest global risk report of the World Economic Forum again shows extreme weather events, natural disasters and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the top of the global crises as far as impact and likelihood are concerned. This demonstrates the urgent need for action. Effective action requires a thorough understanding of the both the bio-physical as well as of the socio economic system.

This seminar presents an overview on the present knowledge of climate change and related sectors. What is our present situation as far as our mitigation efforts are concerned? What is the impact of climate change on water? On the impact side special focus will be on dry extremes. Research gaps and possible ways forward will be discussed.

About the Speaker: 
Prof. Dr. Eddy J. Moors is Rector of IHE Delft Institute for Water Education. He also holds the position of professor “Water and Climate” at VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Moors started his career at the World Meteorological Organization working in the Africa and the Caribbean. Before coming to Delft, he worked at Wageningen Environmental Research – Alterra of Wageningen UR in the research programmes Climate Adaptive Society and Sustainable Water. Keywords in his work are: water, drought, climate change, adaptation, primary production, green-house gas emissions, stakeholder interaction.

His background in hydrology and climate change research on mitigation and on adaptation topics makes him a key player in the field of integration of mitigation and adaptation challenges. The present focus of his research is on the occurrence of trends and extremes as well as on measures to mitigate these extremes using a systems approach.
He has been coordinator of numerous national and international projects ranging from Europe, Africa, India, Bangladesh, East-Siberia to USA and Brazil. The last ten years his work has concentrated on Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal) as well as North America.

Moors is among others chair of the IGRAC foundation, member of the board of trustees of the Just Digit Foundation, member of the SENSE research school. He is associated editor of the Elsevier journal “Environmental Science and Policy” as well as member of the editorial board of “Climate Services” also of Elsevier.

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'Engaging with the Politics of Water Governance'

Date 05 December 2017

In the last decades the term water governance has increasingly appeared in academic publications, from basically zero in 1980 to more than forty-five thousand articles published on water governance by the year 2016. Since the start of this millennium, water governance also has gained momentum within global policy networks and the narrative of understanding the global water crisis as mainly ‘a crisis of governance’ has become predominant. Water governance seems to have replaced the 1980s-1990s paradigm of integrated water resources management, with ‘good’ water governance’ embraced as a panacea to solve the world’s water shortages and conflicts. This proliferation and popularity of the concept water governance has led to numerous initiatives and even sparked new organizations into being. The Water Governance Chair Group at IHE Delft, which was established in 2012, is one of them.

The widespread use of the term water governance suggests that there is agreement on its definition. This is erroneous: there exist many different interpretations on what the concept entails, depending on the perspective and context in which it is used. Its predominant use to date, however, has been to normatively prescribe or help design particular institutional, organizational and financial arrangements for making water decisions and regulating water. The scientific foundations for such prescriptive governance recipes often come from ideologically informed speculations about what society or development should be, rather than from in-depth empirical understandings of how water governance actually occurs.

About the Speaker
Margreet Zwarteveen is an irrigation engineer and social scientist, who joined IHE Delft in 2014 to become its professor of Water Governance, within the Integrated Water Systems and Water Governance Department. Her professorial affiliation is with the Governance and Inclusive Development Group at the UvA, see

Zwarteveen studies water allocation policies and practices, focusing on questions of equity and justice. Her research includes the study of different institutional and technical modalities for allocating water and regulating water flows, and of different ways to understand or legitimize these. Zwarteveen uses an interdisciplinary approach, seeing water allocation as the outcome of interactions between nature, technologies and society.

The relation between power and water is central in the work of Zwarteveen, with explicit attention to gender. Her current research looks at re-allocations of water from agriculture and rural areas to cities and industries: how do these re-allocations happen, with what effects, and how are they legitimized in policies and knowledge? She for instance studies how the introduction of supposedly water efficient technologies (drip irrigation) goes accompanied with, and causes, changes in water tenure relations that favour some people more than others. Zwarteveen is also interested in questions emerging at the interface between science and policy when governing water, especially in relation to the challenges of dealing with complexities and uncertainties.

Zwarteveen coordinates a CGIAR Water, Land and Ecosystem project called Inclusive Water Accounting, and is the Dutch coordinator of an Open Research Area project, called Delta's dealings with uncertainties (DOUBT) (see or

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'Open Source Software and Open Data for Integrated Water Resources Management'

Date 20 September 2017

Geo-information is of essential importance for water management. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), Delta planning and asset management for water utilities need knowledge on GIS and management of spatial data. In the education at IHE Delft and in our capacity development and research projects open source software and open data are increasingly used.

This seminar presents different activities of IHE Delft related to open source software and open data. Important open data resources (remote sensing and GIS data) that exist for IWRM will be discussed. During the seminar it will be demonstrated how water sector organisations and knowledge institutes can share data using spatial data infrastructures (SDIs). Challenges and opportunities related to sharing of GIS data will be discussed.

About the Speaker: 
Dr. Johannes van der Kwast is Senior Lecturer in Ecohydrological Modelling, Water Science and Engineering Department at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education.He finished a Master in Physical Geography at Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 2002 with a specialization in GIS and Remote Sensing. In 2002 he was appointed at the Faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University as an junior lecturer in GIS, lecturing theory and concepts of GIS and Remote Sensing to MSc students. Furthermore, he developed and supervised computer-assisted courses on image processing and GIS. In 2009 he finished his PhD at Utrecht University on the integration of remote sensing in spatial dynamic modelling of soil moisture using data-assimilation techniques implemented in the PCRaster Python framework.

From 2007 to 2012 he worked at the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) where he was appointed as a researcher in spatial dynamical environmental modelling. He participated in projects related to water quality modelling, land-use change modelling and the use of remote sensing data for urban applications. Since April 2012 he is appointed as lecturer in ecohydrological modelling at IHE Delft. He teaches in Open Source GIS and modelling and is involved capacity development and research projects.

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'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.

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

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.

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'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:

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

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).

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