Featured Speakers

Catarina de Albuquerque

Plenary Panel: Understanding Baselines, Indicators and Hurdles to Achieving the SDGs

Ms. de Albuquerque joined SWA in 2014 and her priorities include advocating for a pivotal role for SWA within the SDGs, political prioritization of WASH at a global high-level, helping build consensus between partners, establishing strategic partnerships with other initiatives and sectors and leading SWA’s Steering Committee.

Previously, she was the first UN Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Between 2004 and 2008 she presided over the negotiations of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which the UN General Assembly approved by consensus on 10 December 2008.

Ms. de Albuquerque is an invited Professor at the Law Faculties of the Universities of Braga and Coimbra (Portugal) and a Senior Legal Adviser at the Office for Documentation and Comparative Law, an independent institution under the Portuguese Prosecutor General’s Office. She was awarded the Human Rights Golden Medal by the Portuguese Parliament (10 December 2009) for outstanding work in the area of human rights. Her work in human rights was also honoured by the Portuguese President of the Republic (October 2009) with the Order of Merit, which is a recognition of an individual’s personal bravery, achievement, or service.

She holds a Law Degree from the Law Faculty of the University of Lisbon (Portugal) and a DES from the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales (Geneva, Switzerland).

Parameswaran Iyer

Plenary Panel: Understanding Baselines, Indicators and Hurdles to Achieving the SDGs

Parameswaran Iyer is the Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS), Government of India. MDWS is the nodal Ministry for the country’s national sanitation flagship program, the Swachh Bharat Mission, which is implementing the largest behaviour change program in the world, seeking to motivate about 550 million Indians in rural India to stop defecating in the open. The MDWS also manages the National Rural Drinking Water Program. Mr. Iyer has more than 20 years of experience in the Water and Sanitation sector, of which 14 years were spent in the World Bank, where he worked in many countries, including Vietnam, China, Egypt and Lebanon. In his last World Bank assignment, he managed the Global Water Practice’s South Asia Water program. Earlier, while working in the Government of Uttar Pradesh, India in 1994-98, he led the Swajal Rural Water and Sanitation project, pioneering a demand-responsive and community led approach which led to sector reforms at the national level.

Rick Johnston

Plenary Panel: Understanding Baselines, Indicators and Hurdles to Achieving the SDGs

Dr. Rick Johnston leads the WHO half of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, which monitors water, sanitation and hygiene at global, regional and country levels. Prior to joining WHO in 2013 he worked at Eawag: the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, and at UNICEF. He has over 20 years of experience on WASH in low- and middle-income countries, with a focus on monitoring and drinking water quality. He holds degrees in environmental engineering from the Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Wro Frenesh Mekuria

Plenary Panel: Understanding Baselines, Indicators and Hurdles to Achieving the SDGs

Her Excellency Wro Frenesh Mekuria is a member of the parliament has been State Minister for Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electric since Nov. 2016. Prior that, she was a State Minister of Agriculture & Natural Resources (2015 to Oct. 2016) and also she was a State Minister of women’s children’s and youth affairs (2008 to 2014). Since the start of her professional career she has accumulated experience in gender and youth mainstreaming, Natural Resources and agriculture projects, water supply and sanitation projects and sustainable irrigation system.

Prior to the state minister, she was a deputy bureau head and managed and kept close follow up of different kind of large and small scale of natural resource projects; such as:- conservation and use of forest and wildlife resources, food security, water use and small-scale irrigation, monitoring events affecting agricultural development and early warning system, promoting agricultural development, and establishing and providing agriculture and rural technology training.

She also organized and led teams of government experts and planners, community leaders, promoters and technicians in knowledge exchange in development and emergency response areas. Promoted improved knowledge  management  in  areas ranging from planning, management, monitoring & evaluation, gender, community and uniform costing and tariff systems, peri- urban water supply and community organization, municipal and district planning, community participation, water resource  management and environment, appropriate technologies, Public-Private Partnerships development, preparation of international agreements.

Tom Slaymaker

Plenary Panel: Understanding Baselines, Indicators and Hurdles to Achieving the SDGs

Tom Slaymaker is a Senior Statistics and Monitoring Specialist (WASH) in the Data and Analytics Section at UNICEF and has nearly 20 years of experience working on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in Africa and Asia. He currently manages the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP) and coordinates UNICEF’s technical inputs to the Inter-Agency and Expert Group responsible for developing indicators for global monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Peter Gleick

Plenary Panel: Climate Resilience and Governance

Dr. Peter Gleick is a world-renowned expert, innovator, and communicator on water and climate issues. In 1987 he co-founded the Pacific Institute, which he led as president until mid-2016, when he became president emeritus and chief scientist.

Peter developed one of the first analyses of climate change impacts on water resources, the earliest comprehensive work on water and conflict, and defined basic human need and right to water – work that has been used by the United Nations and in human rights court cases. Also, he pioneered and advanced the concepts of the “soft path for water” and “peak water”.

Peter received the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He serves on the boards of numerous journals and organizations, and is the author or co-author of many scientific papers and 11 books. Dr. Gleick holds a B.S. from Yale University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Tony Wong

Plenary Panel: Climate Resilience and Governance

Professor Tony Wong is Chief Executive of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, with research hubs in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Singapore. Tony is internationally recognised for his research and practice in sustainable urban water management, particularly Water Sensitive Urban Design. His expertise has been gained through consulting, research, and academia. He has led a large number of award-winning projects and received the prestigious Sir John Holland Award as Australia’s Civil Engineer of the Year in 2010, cited as having defined “a new paradigm for design of urban environments that blends creativity with technical and scientific rigour”.

Wong has pioneered a programme of work, referred herein as the Water Sensitive Cities approach, which takes a unique socio-technical approach for concurrently addressing the social, environmental and economic challenges of traditional urban water management. The development of this approach has encompassed a sequence of his significant achievements in research and development, technology, urban design and policy. His early work on Water Sensitive Urban Design has diffused globally, and his subsequent transformation of WSUD into the more holistic Water Sensitive Cities approach has been mainstreamed across Australia, and increasingly amongst developing nations.

Through this 20 plus year journey, Wong has advanced new understandings of the relationship between the societal and biophysical dimensions of water security and city waterscapes – enabling solutions to be underpinned by creative design, and technical and scientific rigour for delivering sustainable urban water outcomes. His recent work has focussed on improving human health in slum communities in the Asia-Pacific through a water sensitive approach to the revitalisation of slums and its adjoining environments.

Archana Patkar

Theme Keynote: WaSH & Gender

Ms. Archana Patkar is the Programme Manager for Networking & Knowledge Management at the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). WSSCC’s mission is to ensure sustainable sanitation, better hygiene and safe drinking water for all people in the world.

A native of Mumbai, India, Ms. Patkar is a leading development specialist and sanitation, hygiene and water supply expert. Her particular areas of expertise include health, education, water and sanitation, and gender and women’s rights in rural and urban contexts. She knows these issues intimately and, in particular, how they impact each other. For example, her long association with the water and sanitation sector began rather accidentally through an assignment in the education sector wherein poor sanitation for girls turned out to be the root cause of absenteeism and drop out.

At WSSCC, since 2010, she has helped steering the organization’s redevelopment as a sector leader in topics such as equity and inclusion in sanitation and hygiene, menstrual hygiene management, and sanitation as a business. She played a key authorship role in developing the organization’s new strategic work plan for 2012 to 2016, which includes indicators for measuring WSSCC’s impact in the years to come. She was the Task Force Chair for the 2011 Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene, and among her many honorary positions she is on the global board of directors for the Freshwater Action Network-South Asia. She also served on the organizing committee for path-breaking sector events such as the South Asian Conference on Sanitation and contributed to the development of related reports and monitoring mechanisms that held governments to account for their commitments on water and sanitation, and which gave voice to civil society.

Before joining WSSCC, Ms. Patkar worked intensively on the design and monitoring and evaluation systems of several large water and sanitation programmes for WaterAid, DFID, UNICEF and the government in Asia and Africa. She also helped found Junction Social, a development consulting firm offering advisory services in social development across sectors.

John Matthews

Theme Keynote: Climate Resillience

John H. Matthews is the Coordinator for the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation. His work integrates climate change adaptation policy and science into sustainable natural resource management, infrastructure operations, and economic development. John has worked on five continents and some twenty-five countries. He has authored or co-authored recent books, papers, and reports on decision-making frameworks for adapting water infrastructure and ecosystems to climate impacts, resilient approaches to environmental flows, integrating ecological and engineering approaches to robust water management, and using new economic tools to support long-term sustainable planning. He has an ongoing research program on climate adaptation strategies for resource management in the North American Great Basin, funded by the USGS as well as an US NSF grant to merge ecological and engineering approaches to long-term sustainable water management and water infrastructure. He is a Senior Water Fellow at Colorado State University.

Previously, John directed the global WWF freshwater climate adaptation program and the Freshwater Climate Change program at Conservation International for four years each. He has PhD in ecology from the University of Texas and held a postdoctoral research position in conservation biology with the US Geological Survey. His undergraduate degree is in cultural anthropology, and he worked as a book editor in the publishing industry for 12 years before entering a PhD program.

Loune Viaud

Theme Keynote: WaSH in Non-Household Settings

Loune Viaud was born in Port-Salut, Haiti.  Currently she serves as the Co-Executive Director of Zanmi Lasante, Partner in Health’s sister organization in Haiti. She works to provide healthcare and social services to the country’s poorest communities throughout the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite regions. Started as a small clinic for a squatter settlement in Central Haiti, Zanmi Lasante now operates Central Haiti’s largest hospital and a dozen outpatient clinics. Under Viaud’s leadership, Zanmi Lasante has grown to become the largest non-government health care provider in Haiti with a team of over 6,000.  Her expertise in the field of public health informed a grant proposal to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculous and Malaria which resulted in a $67 million grant to Haiti and Zanmi Lasante.  In 2010, shortly after the earthquake Loune and Paul Farmer, PIH’s founder, established a children’s home for 64 abandoned children. Named Zamni Beni, meaning “Blessed Friends”, the home is staffed by over 150 personnel providing 24 hour care to children and young adults, many of whom have physical challenges.

In 2002, Loune was a key supporter of health and human rights in practice article on the rights to water in Haiti. The article, wòch nan soley: the denial of the right to water in Haiti speaks to the greater challenges accessing water to the poorest of the poor throughout Haiti. Also in 2002 Viaud received the RFK Human Rights Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice& Human Rights. This award was in recognition of her innovative human rights-based approach to establishing health care systems in Haiti. Viaud was honored not only for her groundbreaking work in effective, rights-based HIV/AIDS treatment, but for advocating that health, access to medicine, and clean water are all fundamental rights. In 2003 she was named one of Ms. Magazine’s “Women of the Year”.  Today she continues to work relentlessly with local government and citizens to build the government’s capacity to advocate and ensure these critical human rights.

James Temte

Plenary Panel: Merging Science and Technology with Culture and Tradition

James Temte is a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and grew up in the Rocky Mountains living in Wyoming and Colorado. James joined the National Tribal Water Center (NTWC) in 2014 and now serves as the Director of the NTWC. James received his undergraduate degree in molecular biology and a minor in chemistry from Fort Lewis College and Masters of Science at the University of Alaska Anchorage in Applied Environmental Science and Technology. James has served as the Director of the Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Management, the Vice Chair of the National Tribal Air Association and on the Board of Directors of the Climate Registry.  James’ interest in water and sanitation work focuses on human health, including affordable access to adequate and sustainable water and sanitation services. He loves to work with communities on multi-disciplinary teams to incorporate innovative health education techniques to inspire positive actions.

Steve Terry

Plenary Panel: Merging Science and Technology with Culture and Tradition

Steve graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree from Texas A&M University in 1974.  He then worked as a Research Biologist for the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources & Conservation for 11 years, doing research studies and assisting in publishing the results with 30 papers and presentations to his credit.  He received a Master of Science Degree from the University of Florida in 1985.  He was the Land Resources Manager for the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida for over 25 years, where he administered the Real Estate Services Department and oversaw EPA and other grants.  USET acquired his services in 2011, where he now assists the USET Certification Board for Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators and Laboratory Analysts by overseeing applications for Certification by the USET Operator Certification Program.  Through his efforts, USET became an EPA Approved Provider for Drinking Water Certification for Indian Tribes nationwide. Steve has over 32 years of working with Tribes and Federal and State Agencies. He has been involved with Tribal drinking water and wastewater facilities for over 25 years. He has served on the USET Peer Review team for sanitary surveys of Tribal drinking water systems. He has received numerous awards and attended many conferences, training sessions, etc. The major awards he has received includes the Michal A. Frost Award from the National Tribal Environmental Council for environmental leadership, the National Partnership for Reinventing Government from Vice-President Al Gore for the Peer Review Team, and Honors from Harvard University’s Honoring Contributions in the Governance of American Indian Natives for the Miccosukee Section 404 Permitting Program.

Laurel Firestone

Theme Keynote: Disparities in WaSH

Laurel Firestone co-founded and co-directs the Community Water Center (CWC).

In January 2016, she was listed as one of nine most influential people in California water policy by Environment & Energy Publishing. Laurel has received a variety of awards and recognitions, including the Gary Bellow Public Service Award by the Harvard Law School in 2013, and is regularly asked to testify and speak on a variety of water equity topics. She served on the Tulare County Water Commission from 2007‐12, and Co‐Chaired the Governor’s Drinking Water Stakeholder Group from 2012‐14. She continues to serve on a variety of state policy advisory committees, as well as partner with universities to develop research and clinical programs to ensure the human right to water. In 2009, Laurel authored the comprehensive Guide to Community Drinking Water Advocacy and continues to author both scholarly and practical publications related to equitable, transparent and effective water policy topics.

Laurel graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and holds a B.A. magna cum laude in Environmental Studies from Brown University.

gelting_37c-9Rick Gelting

Theme Keynote: Evidence to Action

CAPT Rick Gelting, PhD, MS, has worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for over 15 years on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), recently with a special focus on these issues in Haiti. He has done research and provided technical assistance on issues related to the sustainability and health impact of WASH interventions, and has been closely involved in implementing and evaluating Water Safety Plans in Latin America and the Caribbean. Dr. Gelting has also been involved in environmental investigations related to numerous waterborne disease outbreaks, both in the US and other countries. He holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in environmental engineering from Stanford University, is a registered professional engineer, and was the 2013 Federal Engineer of the Year in the United States. Beyond his work with CDC, Dr. Gelting is also an Adjunct Professor of Global Health for Emory University.


David Gute

Theme Keynote: Evidence to Action

David M. Gute is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tufts University. He holds a joint appointment with the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine as well as at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. He directs a M.S./Ph.D. program in Environmental Health and has served as the Academic Director of the Tufts in Talloires program located in the Haute Savoie, France. Prior to joining the Tufts faculty Dr. Gute served as an Assistant Commissioner responsible for personal and environmental disease risk factor reductions with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and as an Epidemiologist with the Rhode Island Department of Health. He has served as a consultant for a number of organizations including the World Health Organization and AcademyHealth. He is interested and committed to offering environmental and public health training in a variety of settings including international venues, having lead and co-directed training programs in Brazil and the Philippines. Dr. Gute received his Ph.D. and M.P.H. from Yale University. Dr. Gute is a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology.