IWA Young Leadership Award

The IWA Young Leadership Award is granted to an exceptional water professional under the age of 35 years who has demonstrated significant achievements in their career to date and who signify outstanding leadership potential, and the ability to play a large and influential role in the water industry in the future.

Throughout their two-year tenure, the award winner will hold the position of Young Leadership Ambassador for IWA and the IWA Young Water Professionals Community.

Key dates

15 April
First-round submissions: bio + 500 word motivation

24 April
Top 5 candidates

13 May
Second Round Nominations

11 June
Nominees informed

15 – 20 September
Awards at World Water Congress 2018

Nominations open!

Nominations are open to everyone, but the nominee must meet the Eligibility Criteria. All applications are made on a confidential basis. Nominations must be submitted via IWA’s dedicated awards platform at iwa.awardsplatform.com.


The YLA is open to water (related) sector professionals who are 35 years or younger and is open for public nominations*. Nominees can both be members and non-members of the IWA.


*Self-nomination is not allowed.


First Round Nominations – Deadline 15 April
First-round submissions will comprise a biography and 500 word motivation on why you think this young water professional needs to win the award

Top 5 Candidates Selection – 24 April
The judges will assess all submissions and pick the top 5 candidates for full submission.

Second Round Nominations – Deadline 13 May
Requireing a more detailed motivation, along with supporting documentation and images form selected candicdates. Submissions for this round are open from 24 April to 13 May 2018

Winner will be informed by 11 June 2018.

Hand out of Award at World Water Congress 2018 – 15 – 20 September
Award winners will be announced at the President’s dinner during the IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan on 15 September 2018 and be announced during the Congress.


For the Young Leadership Award the following Judging criteria apply:


  • Vision (20%) – The individual works towards contributing to the water sector and sustainable development and sets goals that are beyond him/herself.


  • Initiative (20%) – The individual has taken initiative and responsibility to contribute to sustainable water management and practices by developing new ideas and or opening new possibilities and opportunities


  • Motivator (20%) – There is evidence of (voluntary) work/ projects that demonstrates how the individual has motivated (a broad group of) professionals within or beyond the water sector and across disciplines to act towards achieving a common goal and positions the individual as a role model among peers and the wider community.


  • Impact to water sector (20%) – The individual has made an impact with his/her work to influence the water (related) sector – professionals, practices, solutions


Submissions must be made online via the dedicated IWA Awards portal at iwa.awardsplatform.com


  • Preliminary Submissions – (Deadline 15 April 2018)
    • Name, organisation contact details of nominator
    • Name, organisation, and contact details of nominee
    • Biography – 150 words
    • Motivation – 500 word limit describing reason for the nomination


The judges will assess all preliminary submissions, and advise all nominators on whether they proceed to the second round of the submission (by 24 April 2018).


  • Full Submission – 13 May 2018
    • Detailed description – 1200 word limit addressing the judging criteria (as sections)
    • Attach documents (max 3) that proof the achievement of the criteria (newspaper, an article, a link to a website, a project report, one letter of reference focusing on addressing judging criteria)
    • Two photos (high Resolution)


The Young Leadership Award receives a trophy and certificate at The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition – in front of an audience of water leaders from around the world. She or he will be introduced to IWA Leadership Committees (IWA Board, Strategic Council, Governing Member Committees, Emerging Water Leaders Steering Committee) during the President’s Dinner before the start of the World Water Congress & Exhibition.

It is an extraordinary opportunity to be profiled and introduced to the IWA network and being known as the IWA Young Leadership Award Winner 2018 forever. The position of IWA Young Leader Ambassador, throughout a tenure of 2 years. encourages more young water professionals to get to know the IWA, and understand its opportunities. A personalised IWA induction, invitations as Inspirational Speaker during the opening of the International Young Water Professionals Conference, the option of joinning the Emerging Water Leaders Committee meetings and represent IWA YWP community at (IWA) Water related events worldwide are some of the highlights that are part of the IWA Young Leadership Award.


2016 IWA Young Leadership Award

rianna-gonzales-photo-cropRianna Gonzales is the recipient of the 2016 IWA Young Leadership Award. Rianna is a passionate and committed young woman in the field of natural resources management with a focus on water resources management, environmental awareness and youth empowerment. She is a young citizen of the Caribbean, hailing from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. She has her first degree in Environmental and Natural Resources Management and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Coastal Engineering and Management.

Professionally she is a Senior Water Planning Officer at the Water Resources Agency of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) in her country. She has shown exceptional initiative and dedication in the area of water management and environmental consciousness. One of her most notable achievements has been the championing of the international best practice of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Trinidad and Tobago for the past seven (7) years which has now become a priority initiative under government policy.

Outside of her professional duties she has been an active advocate for youth empowerment through education and lobbying for over the past nine (9) years with the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN), a regional youth led organisation, and is currently the National Coordinator of the Trinidad and Tobago Chapter.

In 2015, Rianna was selected to be one of the Lead Coordinating authors for the UNEP Global Environment Outlook 6 Regional Assessment on Latin America and the Caribbean specifically on the chapters on freshwater and oceans and seas. Rianna was also highlighted as one of the Commonwealth’s Young Achievers for 2015.

IWA Young Professionals Awardees

2014 ▩ Inga Jacobs, South Africa

2012 ▩ Norhayati Binti Abdullah, Malaysia

2010 ▩ Rita Henderson, Australia

2008 Enrique Cabrera, Spain

2006 ▩ How Yong Ng, Singapore

2004 ▩ Till Merkel, Germany

2002 ▩ Daniel Deere, Australia

2001 ▩ Lin Wang, China

2000 ▩ Matthias Maier, Germany

1999 ▩ Urs von Gutten, Switzerland


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