Scientific Steering Committee

The Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) provides scientific guidance, fine-tune the broader research themes defined by the Executive Committee and translate them into cutting-edge research questions and projects.

The membership of the Scientific Steering Committee encompasses the nominated Chair (or Co-Chair) of the individual Working Groups.

This committee is currently being formulated and we expect the first meeting to be held in January 2017.

The primary functions of the members of the Scientific Committee will be to:

  • Develop a Science Plan and Implementation Strategy for the Working Groups;
  • Execute plans on behalf of the designated Working Groups;
  • Encourage collaboration between the Working Groups and any other relevant research activities, both within and outside of the programme;
  • Work closely with the Executive Director and support staff in implementing the objectives of the programme; and
  • Report annually the development and implementation of the Working Groups.

Dietrich Borchardt

Chair of the Scientific Steering Committee and Chair of the Water Quality Working Group

Dietrich Borchardt is a biologist by training, full Professor for Aquatic Ecosystem Analysis and Management at TU Dresden (Germany) and Head of Department at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ (Germany). He is Speaker of the Topic “Sustainable Water Resources Management” in the “Earth and Environment” Research Program of the Helmholtz Association running from 2014 -2018.

His research focuses on the functional ecology of aquatic systems, advanced monitoring schemes and innovative modelling tools in order to mechanistically understand anthropogenic pressures and impacts in relation to trajectories of degradation and recovery of aquatic ecosystems. This work is complemented with concepts for hydro-ecological synthesis and the advancement of Integrated Water Resources Management. His research projects cover national, European and global contexts with a strong emphasis on the science-policy- interface.

Water Future Is Important To Me Because…

The availability and provision of adequate amounts of water to satisfy both human and environmental needs is under increasing pressure worldwide. The simple fact is: water is and will continue to be the essential resource for life and survival on our planet. As a consequence modern societies and economies can only develop in sustainable ways with water sensitive policies in all sectors interfering with water. Water Futures is an initiative at the right time to address this grand challenge and work towards solutions, especially with the background of the 2030 Agenda and SDG goals.

Rabi Mohtar

Member of the Scientific Steering Committee and Co-Chair of the Sustainable W-E-F Nexus Working Group

Professor Mohtar leads the W-E-F Nexus Research Group and the W-E-F Nexus Initiative at Texas A&M University. His research addresses global resource challenges: developing the Water-Energy-Food Nexus framework linking science to policy, characterising soil-water medium using thermodynamic modelling, non-traditional water applications for sustainable integrated water management. 

Water Future Is Important To Me Because…

Water Future is important to me because it works toward achieving water, energy and food security; harmonising humans and nature; and feasible implementation of integrated mechanisms into a holistic, system level platform.

Peter Scales

Member of the Scientific Steering Committee and Co-Chair of the Urban Water Systems Working Group

Peter Scales is a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Deputy Dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Melbourne.  He is Director of the Particulate Fluids Processing Centre and has just completed a Directorship of the Joint Australia-China Research Centre on River Basin Management.  He has seven years of industrial experience in particle and fluid processing as well as over twenty years experience in academia.

His research interests are in the area of process and systems optimization and productivity with an emphasis on systems involving fluid and slurry flow, particle flocculation and dispersion, and molecular and particle separations technologies including thickening, sedimentation and membrane filtration.  The application space for his research is in water recycle to productive use, breaking the pollution cycle in waste-water processing, biomass dewatering, water re-use in mining and the competition for water between agriculture, mining, energy, cities and the environment. His current research is in the area of direct potable recycle of water, the water productivity of cities, algal cell dewatering for biofuels and the prediction of thickener and water re-cycle performance for the minerals industry.

Water Future is Important To Me Because…

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal six (water and sanitation) is one of the world’s biggest challenges.  Bringing expertise from across the world to focus on integrated solutions is a great starting point to making a real difference.  The majority of the effort for water and sanitation needs to focus on the significant trend towards urbanization in the world, including a lack of integrated water supply and sewage services for nearly half of the global population and the vulnerability of people to disease and social stigmas associated with inadequate services in this area.

David Groenfeldt

Member of the Scientific Steering Committee and Chair of the Water Ethics Working Group

An anthropologist, David Groenfeldt received his PhD in 1984 from the University of Arizona, based on field research on irrigation development in India. His career has focused on water, including five years with the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka and 13 years in Washington, DC working with consulting firms, and the World Bank, on water and natural resources policies in developing countries. More recently, David has focused on environmental and cultural aspects of water policies.  He helped establish the Indigenous Water Initiative to coordinate inputs from Indigenous Peoples in the World Water Forum in Kyoto (2003) and Mexico City (2006).  His work as director of the Santa Fe Watershed Association, in Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA) from 2006 to 2009 highlighted the role of community values in driving water policies.  He established the Water-Culture Institute in 2009 to promote the integration of traditional cultural values and ethics into water policies and practices.  He coordinates the Water Ethics Network  and is involved in developing a global charter on water ethics, as well as local water ethics charters at the level of cities and watersheds.   His ideas are outlined in two recent books, Water Ethics: A Values Approach to Solving the Water Crisis (2013), and Global Water Ethics: Towards a Global Ethics Charter (2017, co-edited with Rafael Ziegler).  David is also an Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Water Future Is Important To Me Because…

Future water decisions will be increasingly critical to get right, yet with changing circumstances from climate change, population growth and environmental degradation, we cannot simply apply lessons from the past.  We need to develop new future-oriented water strategies for our ever changing world.

Heidi Asbjornsen

Co-Chair of the Economic Instruments of Water Security Working Group

Heidi is an Ecosystem Ecologist, with expertise in Ecohydrology, Plant Physiology, and Forestry.  Her research focuses on understanding the underlying ecological processes that determine the capacity of temperate and tropical ecosystems to sustainably provide diverse benefits to society while maintaining resilience to land use and climate change, and how to apply this knowledge to developing approaches for the sustainable management of watershed for hydrologic and other ecosystem services. Her work is inherently highly interdisciplinary and collaborative, and in recent years has focused on integrating biophysical and social science research with broad stakeholder engagement to enhance Payment for Hydrologic Service programs.

Water Future Is Important To Me Because…

The Water Futures initiative represents an exciting and timely opportunity to build the international and transdisciplinary partnerships that are critical to developing effective local, regional, and global approaches for achieving sustainable watersheds and societies.

Karen Villholth

Co-Chair of the Groundwater Management Working Group

Karen G. Villholth has more than 25 years of experience in groundwater resources assessment and management. She deals with research, policy advice, and capacity development related to groundwater irrigation for smallholders, transboundary aquifers, groundwater resources and recharge assessment, climate change impact assessment on groundwater resources, adaptation through underground solutions, role of depleting aquifers in global food production, groundwater and eco-system services, and groundwater management and governance for institutions at various levels, from local to global. She engages with multidisciplinary teams and stakeholders in co-developing tools, approaches, and policies to a more sustainable use of groundwater for livelihoods, food security, and environmental integrity.

Karen is a Principal Researcher and a Sub-Theme Leader, working with IWMI, International Water Management Institute, from the Southern Africa regional office in Pretoria, South Africa. She is leading the global IWMI-led partnership initiative on Groundwater Solutions for Policy and Practice (GRIPP) that aims to enhance attention to and improvement in groundwater management in countries heavily reliant on groundwater for irrigation and food production.

Karen holds a PhD in Groundwater Assessment and a MSc in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark and a MSc in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington, USA. She previously worked for DHI-Water and Environment and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. She is co-Manager on two Commissions within IAH, the International Association of Hydrogeologists: the one on Groundwater for Decision Makers and the one on Governance of Transboundary Aquifers.

Water Future Is Important To Me Because …

Further information will be provided in due course.

Ian Harrison

Member of the Scientific Steering Committee and Chair of the Freshwater Biodiversity Working Group

Dr. Ian Harrison is the Technical Officer for the IUCN SSC/Wetlands International Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, co-chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Freshwater Specialist Group, and part of the Steering Committee of the IUCN SSC Freshwater Conservation Sub-Committee, and part of the Belmont Forum funded research team on Sustainable Deltas. He is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Fish Biology, a Research Associate in the Department of Ichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. He has published over 50 scientific papers and book/report chapters on the conservation of freshwater ecosystems.

Water Future Is Important To Me Because …

Freshwater ecosystems are recognised as among the most threatened and degraded on Earth, in terms of loss of habitats, threats to species. These are not just threats to the ecosystems, they are threats to the people who rely on these ecosystems and the water they deliver. Sustainable development means a sustainable water future, which means healthy, well managed, freshwater ecosystems.

Jason Kelly

Member of the Scientific Steering Committee and Chair of the Memory, Place, and Community in Global Water Systems Working Group

Dr. Jason Kelly is the inaugural Director of the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute (IAHI) and an Associate Professor of History. His research focuses on the intersections of art, science, and philosophy.  He is the author of The Society of Dilettanti (Yale University Press, 2010) and articles in Journal of British Studies, the British Art Journal, the Walpole Society, and more. He currently leads a major collaborative project, Rivers of the Anthropocene, which brings together an international team of scientists, humanists, and policy makers to study global river systems since 1750. He teaches courses on eighteenth-century Europe; history of science; digital humanities; and environmental history. Dr. Kelly is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London; the 2013 recipient of IUPUI's Research Trailblazer Award; and a two-time recipient of the IU Trustees Teaching Award (2011, 2008).

Water Future Is Important To Me Because…

Human culture and water are inextricably tied together. Understanding them together can offer deep insights into our pasts and our future.

Rebecca Tharme

Member of the Scientific Steering Committee and Chair of the Environmental Flows Working Group

Dr Rebecca Tharme is the Director of Riverfutures, a company she founded in 2015 to help develop policy-appropriate solutions and technical capacity for environmental water management. She is also an Adjunct Principal Research Fellow of the Australian Rivers Institute. She has 25 years of experience as a leader and member of interdisciplinary, multicultural teams on projects in 40 developing countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia. Rebecca holds a Ph.D. in Zoology (Aquatic Ecology). She is a jury member for Swiss Re Foundation’s International ReSource Award for resilience in water management, and served on the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands’ Scientific and Technical Review Panel for two terms, from 2002 to 2008. She has held the positions of Director of Partnerships, Great Rivers Program, and Senior Freshwater Scientist in The Nature Conservancy’s Global Water team, and Water and Environment Theme Leader at the International Water Management Institute. She began her career as a researcher in Cape Town University’s Freshwater Research Unit. Rebecca has contributed to several global initiatives on water, environment and sustainability, including the UNEP-led draft framework for international water quality guidelines for freshwater ecosystems, the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture, and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. She has co-authored over 90 publications, many on environmental flow policy, science and practice, river ecohydrology, and human water, food and energy security. Rebecca has led numerous capacity development initiatives on river ecology, water management and environment flows, and has given more than 40 invited conference presentations.

Water Future Is Important To Me Because …

I expect Water Future to help set the agenda and path towards truly environmentally and socially sustainable management of our water resources – by bridging social-cultural divides, dissolving the boundaries among institutions, fostering interdisciplinary, and encouraging the sharing of knowledge and best practice, all at scales that will have lasting global impact.