Leading voices and thought-leaders

Joan Rose
The water microbiome

Ben Schouten
Participative societies

Barbara Frost
Ending extreme poverty

John Thwaites
Water and the sustainable
development goals

Eva Abal
Water resources management

Gunter Pauli
The Blue Economy

Agenda setting thought leadership from the most prominent figures within the water sector and beyond. Keynote speakers are the top specialists in their field and will provide the overarching narrative for the congress. Keynotes and supporting panels will frame the key discussions and topics that will be addressed during the week of the congress.

Gunter Pauli

The Blue Economy


Gunter Pauli is the founder of the ZERI Think Tank which is ranked as one of the top in the world for innovative policy advise.
He started his career as an entrepreneur, but influenced by the work of the Club of Rome, he set out on a mission to ensure that business would become a vehicle in society’s capaicty to respond to its urgent needs. He published 15 books, wrote 220 fables (published mainly in China by the Government) and combines creative solutions with action on the ground. With over $4billion invested in +200 projects his teams have demonstrated a capacity to translate vision into reality. He is father of 6 and speaks 7 languages fluently.

John Thwaites

Water and the future we want – how water can contribute to achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals

MONDAY  09:00 – 09:45  Plenary

John Thwaites is a Professorial Fellow, Monash University, and Chair of ClimateWorks Australia and the Monash Sustainability Institute. John is also the Chair of Melbourne Water, which is responsible for Melbourne’s water supply and for the rivers and catchment around Melbourne. John chairs the Australian Building Codes Board, the body responsible for developing and managing Australia’s building regulations. He also chairs the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust and is a director of the Australian Green Building Council. John Thwaites is a Co-Chair of the Leadership Council of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (“SDSN”) launched by the Secretary General of the UN to provide expert advice and support to the development and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2013, John was named as one of the 100 Global Sustainability Leaders by ABC Carbon Express.

From 2012-2013, John was Chair of the National Sustainability Council, an independent Council appointed by the Australian Government, which produced the Sustainable Australia Report in 2013. John has provided extensive advice to the Australian, state and local governments on environmental and water issues and been appointed to many government advisory bodies. In 2008-2010, John was a special adviser to the Timor-Leste Minister for Infrastructure and helped develop an Infrastructure Plan for Timor-Leste and has been involved in a project to develop sewerage and drainage for the capital Dili.

John Thwaites was Deputy Premier of Victoria from 1999 until his retirement in 2007. During this period he was Minister for Health, Minister for Planning, Minister for Environment, Minister for Water, Minister for Victorian Communities and Victoria’s first Minister for Climate Change. In these portfolios he was responsible for major reforms in social policy, health, environment and water. As Minister for Water John initiated key reforms including an environmental right to water, an environmental contribution on water bills to fund environmental works and environmental flows, a water conservation campaign that led to water savings of over 40 per cent per head over a decade and major new infrastructure including the desalination plant and Victoria’s water grid. Prior to being elected to Parliament, he was a barrister and Mayor of South Melbourne. He has degrees in Law (Honours) and Science from Monash University.

Barbara Frost

Ending extreme poverty, what do the SDGs mean for access to water, sanitation and hygiene

MONDAY  17:15 – 18:00  Plenary

Barbara Frost has been Chief Executive of WaterAid UK since September 2005. During this time the global organisation has expanded into 37 countries and substantially increased its income from £27 million a year to over £90 million in 2014/15. Barbara believes that WaterAid’s success is due to retaining a clear focus on safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation as essential to poverty eradication and an emphasis on everyone’s right to these most basic of services.

WaterAid’s Global Strategy “Everyone Everywhere by 2030” links the work of teams across the globe  – Australia, sub Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Asia Pacific, the Americas, the UK, India, Sweden, Canada and Japan. Barbara oversaw the development of the strategy linked to the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals and also played a pivotal role in creating WaterAid international. In 2011 Barbara was awarded two honorary doctorates from Exeter and Cranfield Universities and in 2015 the Daniel Phelan Award for Outstanding Achievement at the UK Charity Awards.

Prior to joining WaterAid, Barbara was Chief Executive of Action on Disability and Development based in the UK; an international development organisation working with disabled people’s organisations in Africa and Asia to assist them to claim their rights and improvements in their living standards. Barbara has worked for the international NGOs ActionAid, Save the Children and Oxfam Australia. She was based in Southern Africa; Mozambique for four years and then three in Malawi responsible for managing and leading country programmes addressing a broad spectrum of development needs. In her early career Barbara worked in Australia with the Federal and State governments, as well as with the voluntary and community sector, before moving to Africa and then back to the UK.

Eva Abal

Simplifying the complexities of water resources management

WEDNESDAY  09:00 – 09:45 Plenary

Eva Abal is the Director of the recently-established University of Queensland (UQ) Water, which aims to coordinate research activities in water across UQ’s faculties, institutes and centres, to enhance UQ’s profile in this multi-disciplinary field of growing global importance. Eva is also the Strategic Science Director for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation in a part-time capacity and works very closely with the CEO to develop and package research projects into a portfolio, which aims to understand and promote resilient reef ecosystems adapting to climate change, for investor funding.

Eva previously directed the Science/Innovation Program and Ecosystem Health Monitoring activities of the South East Queensland Healthy Waterways Partnership (SEQHWP) in Australia, a unique partnership that pioneered the development and release of the Ecosystem Health Report Card in 1998. Eva renders professional advise on water and land resources in the Asia Pacific Region. Through the International Water Centre, Eva works with the Asian Development Bank (Manila) as one of the lead authors in the Asia Water Development Outlook (key dimension on water for liveable cities and water for the environment).

Eva’s scientific expertise and research interests include strategic research framework development towards a clear path to impact; building partnerships amongst research, government and industry; science leadership and coordination of multidisciplinary projects; and effective science communication through Ecosystem Report Cards.

Ben Schouten

Participative societies creating new challenges for the water sector

WEDNESDAY  17:15 – 18:00 Plenary

Ben Schouten is an advisor for the European Commission on the ‘Internet of Things’ as well as for the Dutch Cultural Media Fund, responsible for E-culture. He graduated from the Rietveld Art Academy in 1983 and found himself interested in patterns and iconography, and discovered his fascination for mathematics. In August 1995 he received a Master’s degree in mathematics, specializing in chaos theory. In 1996 Ben Schouten founded Desk.nl, providing innovative internet related solutions. Together with the Dutch Design Institute (Vormgevings Instituut), Desk was internationally acknowledged with a webby award in gaming.

In 2001 he received his PhD for his thesis on content based image retrieval and interfaces that allow browsing & searching for images in an intuitive way, according to human perception. His thesis was acknowledged with a Bronze World Medal for Design in the New Media category, sub-category Information and Education, in New York, USA.

In the following years Ben Schouten started a group in Biometrics and Human Behavior Analysis in Smart Environments at the Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI, Amsterdam) as well as teaching at the Utrecht School of Art & Technology (HKU) in Interaction Design and Gaming. In 2010 he was appointed Full Professor Playful Interactions in Smart Environments at Eindhoven University of Technology and in 2013 Lector of Play & Civic Media Research at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. His group focuses on play for social innovations, citizen empowerment and culture.

Joan Rose

Can the Water Microbiome Save the Biohealth of the Planet?

THURSDAY 09:00 – 09:45 Plenary

Joan Rose is currently a Professor at Michigan State University, and holds the Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research. She serves as the Co-Director of the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment which addresses evidence based risk assessments for management of waterborne pathogens. Dr. Rose is an international expert in water microbiology, water quality and public health safety, and has published more than 300 manuscripts. For more than 20 years she has been involved in drinking water investigations of water-borne outbreaks and is well known for her work on the waterborne outbreak of Cryptosporidium in Milwaukee. Her work addresses the monitoring of bacteria, protozoa and viruses in polluted recreational and drinking water using conventional and advanced techniques.

Dr. Rose recently won the Stockholm Water Prize and is a member of the National Academy of Engineers. She is a member of the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board for the EPA. She is currently a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Environmental Sciences and Toxicology. She is a Fellow of the IWA and Vice Chair of the US National Committee for IWA.

Dr. Rose earned her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Arizona, Tucson.

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