Leading voices and thought-leaders

Agenda setting thought leadership from the 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 conference.

Gustaf Olsson
Tuesday: 8:30

Gustaf Olsson

Making Water Systems Smarter and Available for All

“What do the development in renewable energy mean for water supply and treatment? It will probably have a profound impact on Africa. I think that the YWPs should be very much aware of this perspective!”

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A smart water system operates to fulfil the basic requirements of producing an acceptable product while keeping the energy and resource requirements at a minimum. Such a system should respond fast and in an adequate way to disturbances and recover quickly after a major upset. A key approach to a smarter system is found via instrumentation, control and automation. The basis for the information flow is the simple framework that a control engineer calls the feedback loop. It is here named the “MAD” approach to enable smart water management. The acronym stands for ‘measure’ (M), ‘analytics’ (A) and ‘decision-making’ (D).

Two parallel developments have the potential to significantly transform water supply and wastewater treatment systems. Renewable energy, primarily solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power, is already dramatically revolutionizing the availability of clean electrical energy at affordable cost. The development towards decentralized water systems is growing, not only in remote areas but also in rapidly expanding peri-urban areas. Both of these trends will rely on smart solutions using adequate sensors, control and automation.

Available electrical energy is a critical factor to pump and treat water. Access to electrical energy can be enjoyed by 84% of the global population implying that almost 1.2 billion people are still without it. The world now adds more renewable power capacity annually than it adds (net) capacity from all fossil fuels combined. In many regions with energy poverty there are abundant renewable energy sources. Particularly in Africa and Asia a lot of rural areas are not connected to any grid infrastructure. Here solar and wind power offer huge opportunities, providing energy for pumping and for water re-use and purification using different technologies. Solar power in small-scale installations have already delivered electrical power and lifted millions of people out of poverty.

A smart water supply and treatment will take advantage of affordable renewable energy in combination with adequate automation. This gives the potential to satisfy two of the key UN Sustainable Development Goals: clean water and energy for all.

Gustaf Olsson, Lund University, Sweden, has devoted his research to applications of Industrial Automation. This includes control and automation of water systems, power production, electrical power systems and industrial processes. In recent years he has focused on the water-energy nexus, trying to comprehend how energy exploration, generation and use are related to water operations and consumption.

Gustaf has been involved in IWA activities since 1973. He has served as the editor-in-chief of Water Science and Technology, in the IWA Strategic Council, and in the IWA Board of Directors. He has received the IWA Publication Award and is an Honorary Member of IWA as well as an IWA Distinguished Fellow.  During the last six years he has been mentoring IWA Young Water Professionals from all continents to develop their scientific writing skills.

Recent publications:

Smart water utilities: complexity made simple

Water and Energy: Threats and Opportunities

Tuesday  08:30

Faith Matshidiso Hashatse

Good Governance and Good Performance of Water Utilities: Building Water-wise Cities.

“Good governance will enable utilities to become leaders in reaching a water-wise city. It is important for young water professionals to understand the increasing importance of utilities in cities”

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What are features that make a public water utility a good performer that is able to contribute to the journey of building water-wise cities? Good governance is instrumental to good performance, and aspects of good governance we will touch on will include:

• Policy and Regulatory environment • Autonomy and Accountability • Directors and Management • Organisational Culture and Performance Objectives • Business Planning and Operational Environment • Customer Orientation and Stakeholder Engagement • Financial Viability •

Faith Matshidiso Hashatse was first appointed to the Board of Rand Water 1 April 2009, and currently serves as Chairperson of the Board of Rand Water.

Advocate Hashatse has over 25 years’ working experience during which time she has worked in various sectors including Telecommunications Regulation, Higher Education Management, Local Government Executive Leadership, and in the areas of Fundamental Human Rights and Gender Equity. She has over 16 years’ experience and involvement as a Non-Executive Director in several institutions and companies; in sectors that include water utilities, economic and small business development, tourism promotion and national park management.  She currently works as a Consultant with a particular focus on Organisational Change, Organisational Efficiency and Governance.

Wednesday 08:30

Richard Ashley

Economics, so called nature based solutions and uncertainty

“Sustainability has been reduced to one element of the triple bottom line: Economics. Does it stack up? Are the benefits more than the costs? and are our decisions made on shaky foundations of financial value? or does that even matter”

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It used to be called ‘sustainability’, and ‘sustainable development’ was the goal of everyone in the utility, service and infrastructure provision policy and professional worlds. These words are still used, but in a neoliberal economy world, sustainability has been reduced to one element of the triple bottom line: Economics. Does it stack up? Are the benefits more than the costs? Of course, lip service is paid to the triple bottom line, but the reality is that if it cannot be shown to be cheaper then it is not a viable option. Because of this there have been many attempts to assess the value of the environmental and social elements. Perhaps the most useful of these is the development of ecosystem services valuation approaches and tools to value the ‘natural’ environment.  Accompanying this has been a plethora of terms: blue or green infrastructure (BGI), and nature based solutions (NBS) being currently very popular amongst those dealing with water systems. Several tools have been developed that purport to provide the monetary and other value of using BGI and NBS. All professionals know that the financial bottom line obtained from these analyses is seriously flawed, but this does not matter as long as policy and decision makers believe it justifies their choice of schemes. How uncertain then are these approaches and tools? How do they compare with the uncertainties in the ‘precise’ hydraulic and physical system analyses we use to underpin the economics? In developing new tools for surface water management valuations and reviewing extant tools, insights into these comparative uncertainties has illustrated how decisions about water systems have always been made on shaky foundations; so maybe the latest myopic perspective on financial value is not a problem.

A Professional Chartered UK Civil Engineer and former MD of the Pennine Water Group (PWG) at the University of Sheffield. He is Director of EcoFutures Ltd. [www.ecofutures.eu]; researcher in flood resilience at IHE in Delft, Netherlands; and Adjunct Professor at Lulea Technical University, Sweden. Richard is the recipient of the IWA/IAHR Joint Committee on Urban Drainage 2014 triennial Career achievement award.


Richard has worked in practice and has a research career spanning 50 years in the design and science of urban drainage systems. In the last 20 years he has worked extensively in cross-disciplinary activities covering governance, sustainability and resilience of urban water systems. With more than 500 publications, and significant research findings mainly for urban drainage and flooding.

Thought Leaders

Additional thought leading plenary sessions will support setting the scene, build the energy and motivation of the young professionals, and inspire development of the young water professionals water career.

Diane d'Arras_@IWA - Copy
Monday 08:30
Part of the Opening Plenary

Diane D’Arras, IWA

Top Ten Trends in the Global Water Sector 

Learn more about Diane D'Arras

Diane Diane d’Arras relationship with IWA started in 1984 when she submitted a paper to the XV International Water Supply Association Congress in Tunisia. Since she has been active individually and by promoting and pushing her teams (CIRSEE and Degremont R&D) in the different IWA task groups, workshops and congresses. She is a member of the IWA Strategic Committee since 2008 and board member since 2010.

In 2014, Diane d’Arras was elected one of two IWA vice-presidents by the IWA’s General Assembly in Lisbon. In 2015 she became IWA’s Future President, which she exercises from October 2016 onwards. Diane d’Arras is graduated from the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, Institut des Sciences Politiques de Paris, Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale, and was awarded the «Légion d’Honneur» for her involvement in research.

She started her career in 1977 in a French Public Water Authority – Seine Normandie. As engineer, she worked at the department in charge of the financial support to research on drinking water. She joined Lyonnaise des Eaux, a French Water Company in 1981 taking in charge the corporate office for water subsidiaries. Then from 1984 to April 1993, she turned to water operations in the Western Parisian Region.

After that first operational experience, Diane D’Arras had the great opportunity to join, in 1993, Aguas Argentinas in Buenos Aires, first as the Manager of the Water Production and Wastewater Treatment and later as Operations Manager – a great experience that provided her with the opportunity to discover other ways of thinking, professionally and personally. Later on, in 1998, she was appointed Technology and Research Senior Vice President at Degrémont, an engineering company specializing in water and wastewater treatment.

In 2003 she became Technology and Research Senior Vice President for Suez Environnement, where she developed a structured international network of research centres. Diane d’Arras was appointed in January 2011 Senior Executive Vice President Water Western Europe. She is in charge of operational management, strategy and partnerships in Western Europe.

Monday 08:30
Part of the Opening Plenary

Lester Goldman, WISA

Water sector from Regional Perspective

Learn More about Lester Goldman

Chief Executive Officer Water Institute of Southern Africa. Lester is an Executive leader with over 20 years multi industry experience.

Credit Kat Grudko
Monday 08:30
Part of the Opening Plenary

Adriana Marais, SAP Africa

Panelist : What will our world look like in 2050?

“The   reason   I   want   to   go   to   Mars   is   simple:    The   allure   of   the   unknown   is   far   more   powerful   than   the   comfort   of   the   known.”

Learn More about Adriana Marais

Dr   Adriana   Marais,   theoretical   physicist,   Head   of   Innovation   at   SAP   Africa      and   aspiring   extraterrestrial,   believes   that   we   are   living   at   a unique   point   in   the      history   of   life   on   Earth.

Adriana   studied   theoretical   physics   and   philosophy   at   the   University   of   Cape   Town,   South   Africa    (SA).   She   completed   her   MSc   summa   cum   laude   in   quantum   cryptography   at   the   University   of    KwaZulu-­‐Natal   (UKZN),   and   was   awarded   her   PhD   in   quantum   biology   at   the   same   institute   in    2015.   She   continued   as   a   postdoctoral   researcher   in   the   Quantum   Research   Group   established   by    Prof   Francesco   Petruccione   at   UKZN,   doing   research   in   quantum   biology,   studying   quantum    effects   in   photosynthesis   as   well   as   the   origins   of   prebiotic   molecules   and   life   itself.   Since   the    beginning   of   2017,   she   has   left   academia   for   the   corporate   world,   in   the   role   of   Head   of    Innovation   at   SAP   Africa,   driving   digitisation   and   innovation   on   the   continent.

Adriana   has   been   recognised   by   the   Mail   &   Guardian   as   one   of   200   Young   SA   achievers   (2014),    she   was   one   of   15   recipients   worldwide   of   a   L’Oreal-­‐UNESCO   International   Rising   Talent   Grant    for   Women   in   Science   (2015)   and   she   is   the   2016   Royal   Society   of SA   Meiring   Naude   Medal    awardee   for   a   young   researcher.

Also   during   2016   she   attended   the   prestigious   66th   Lindau    Nobel   Laureate   Meeting   as   one   of   400   most   qualified   young physicists   selected   worldwide,   as    well   as   the   International   Astronautical   Congress   in   Mexico,   to   present   her   research   on   quantum    astrobiology,   and   hear   Elon   Musk’s   keynote   “Making   Humans   a   Multiplanetary   Species”.    Since   childhood,   Adriana   has   dreamed   of   living   on   another   planet,   and   is   currently   one   of   the   100    Mars   One   Project   astronaut   candidates   in   the   running   to   move   to   the   red   planet   in   the   next    decade.   She   hopes   one   day   to   continue   her   research   on   Mars.   She   believes   that   education   comes    with   the   responsibility   to   share   knowledge,   and   while   still   on   Earth,   is   actively   involved   in   the    promotion   of   science   and   space   exploration   as   Special   Project   Coordinator   for   the   Foundation   for    Space   Development   SA,   an   exciting   initiative   of   which   is   the   Africa2Moon   project.   She   is   grateful    for   the   platform   she   has   as   a   Mars   One   candidate   to   inspire   school   children,   teenagers   and   adults   around   South   Africa   and   abroad   to   get   excited   about   science,   believe   in   their dreams and remember Nelson Mandela’s words: “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.



james cullis
Monday 08:30
Part of the Opening Plenary

James Cullis, Aurecon Group

Panelist : What will our world look like in 2050?

Learn more about James Cullis

Dr James Cullis is a specialist in the field of water resources, the water-energy-food nexus as well as climate change impacts and adaptation. He has a broad range of experience including technical engineering aspects, as well as social, political, environmental and economic impacts of water resources development and management with a particular focus on water resources in Africa. He has experience as an engineer, project manager and primary researcher in a range of water related projects in Africa; from feasibility studies and engineering design of water related infrastructure to strategic planning, policy development, water and economics, and capacity building. James’ research interests include water resources management and decision making, hydrology, the impacts of invasive alien plants, environmental flows and eco-hydraulics, climate change impacts and adaptation, integrated assessment modelling, and modelling the water-energy-food nexus. As a scientist, James has research experience in South Africa, United Kingdom, United States of America and Antarctica. James is an honorary research associate with the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and external examiner for the Department of Civil Engineering.

Monday 08:30
Part of the Opening Plenary

IWA South Africa

The National Water sector Perspective.

Join us in Cape Town!