RiverForum: Rivers and Covid-19

28 September 2020 |  Zoom

How is the COVID-19 pandemic impacting our rivers and their communities and what are the implications for a post-pandemic world on these valuable assets?

RiverForum: Rivers and COVID-19

To celebrate World Rivers Day, join the International RiverFoundation for our next RiverForum.

The online event will bring together eleven international experts to discuss social, environmental, cultural, economic and management impacts on our world’s rivers throughout this time of unprecedented change. The presentations will highlight the many values of rivers and talk about what the future may hold for these ecosystems and communities post the pandemic.

Rivers around the world face an array of threats and challenges. This RiverForum provides a vehicle to share knowledge, increase awareness, showcase commitments, and inspire stewardship to ensure the health of our rivers for future generations.

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RiverForum Program

28 September 2020

AEST | Australia
14.00 – 17.30

NZST | New Zealand
16 .00 – 19.30

SGT | Singapore
12 .00 – 15.30

IST | India
09 .30 – 13.00

CAT | South Africa
06 .00 – 09.30

GMT+1 | UK
5 .00 – 8.30

AEST 28 September
14:00 Welcome
14.10 Chi Mun Woo (Australia)
From Covid Disruption to Resilient Recovery, a promise too good to be true?
Question and Answer
14.45 Tarika Gulati (India)
India pandemic lockdown provides hope for rejuvenating rivers
Question and Answer
15.20 Break
15.30 Crispino Lobo (India)
The call of the pandemic: Resetting Relationships with nature and society

Question and Answer
16.05 Dr Steven Kenway (Australia)
Environmental gains from COVID-19: Potential impact on greenhouse gas emisssions
Question and Answer
16.40 Emerging Water Professionals Panel
No sustainability without inclusiveness: the voice of emerging professionals
17.15 Synthesis, Thank you & Close

RiverDialogue Speakers

Click on photos for speaker bio.

Chi Mun Woo

Chi Mun Woo

Partner, Sustainability and Climate Change
Deloitte, Australia

From Covid Disruption to Resilient Recovery, a promise too good to be true?

There has been much international discourse about the need for a green recovery, including those of our rivers and waterways, however very little is understood about how the private sector’s response is aligned with climate and sustainability considerations – is COVID an accelerator or a distraction? Leveraging research conducted globally,  Chi will share some insights on how Covid-19 is impacting on corporate sustainability and climate change activity including:

  • Business and sustainability priorities
  • Sustainability strategies and ability to execute
  • Stakeholder and investor considerations
  • Purpose making and reviews of corporate values

Chi will also outline some lessons learnt from businesses that have enhanced sustainability commitment and action during this crisis and their implications to achieving environmental resilience.

Tarika Gulati

Tarika Gulati

Environmental Scientist
Alluvium International

India pandemic lockdown provides hope for rejuvenating rivers

Within just 14 days of the India’s COVID-19 lockdown halting industries and factories, the quality of water flowing down the Yamuna River through Delhi improved by up to a third. This presentation explores the rapid recovery of India’s rivers during the COVID-19 lockdown, with a focus on the Yamuna River, and explores the implications for future river rejuvenation initiatives in the country.

Crispino Lobo

Crispino Lobo

Managing Trustee and Co-Founder
Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR), India

The call of the pandemic: Resetting Relationships with nature and society

The talk will describe how COVID has impacted communities, nature and the environment in rural India. It will explore the underlying vulnerabilities which the pandemic has exacerbated and the new challenges it has thrown up. Lessons learnt and measures that build social and ecological resilience will be discussed.

Steven Kenway

Dr Steven Kenway

Associate Professor, Water-Energy-Carbon Group Leader
University of Queensland, Australia

Environmental gains from COVID-19: Potential impact on greenhouse gas emissions

Social, environmental and economic aspects of society have been profoundly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.  But what are the spill-over consequences from lockdowns and world-wide reductions in production and consumption and impacts through international supply chains?  Our research shows that there has been considerable reductions in greenhouse emissions, but what does this mean for long-term mitigation strategies, and what options do we have to reduce emissions further?  Is Net Zero Energy use possible to improve water security especially in light of economic hardships?

Emerging Water Professionals Panel

No sustainability without inclusiveness: the voice of emerging professionals

We are all feeling and experiencing the impact from COVID-19 one way or another. Insecurity and uncertainty especially around jobs are the thoughts that linger in our minds. Listen to and share your stories with our emerging water professionals around the world on how their resilience helps them manage and thrive amid uncertainties, and how they continue to look after themselves while looking after the rivers and water resources they care for.

Daru Setyorini (Indonesia)

Daru is a river biologist that developed Biotilik River Biomonitoring Tool through a citizen science program to promote community participation in watershed conservation. Daru is also creating a bioengineering model for fish habitat restoration, floodplain protection, and prevention of plastic pollution in Brantas River Basin Indonesia.

Rajan Subedi (Nepal)

Rajan is the River Basin Manager for the Transboundary Rivers of South Asia project in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar. He has initiated a Citizen Science approach for transboundary water cooperation in Mahakali basin, a shared basin between Nepal and India.

Minh Nguyen (Vietnam)

Minh Nguyen is a Youth Project Designer in the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Youth for Asia team, designing meaningful youth-led elements into ADB projects to enhance inclusion and innovations in ADB’s Water and Urban operations.

Florencio Venté (Brazil)

Florencio Venté is a young professional base in Brazil working at ZM PUMPS as Business development to promote sustainable water supply for agriculture in South America and Africa using renewable energy.

William Lucht (USA)

William Lucht is a Youth Project Designer in the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Youth for Asia team designing meaningful youth elements into ADB projects to enhance inclusion and innovations in ADB’s Agriculture and environment operations.

Sayanangshu Modak (India)

Sayanangshu Modak is a Research Assistant at the Observer Research Foundation, Kolkata and his current research focus is on transboundary water governance. He also tracks issues related to natural resource management and environmental sustainability.

Sophie Erfurth (UK)

Sophie Erfurth is a hydrologist with professional experience in the field of International and Transboundary Water Management. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford conducting research at the intersection between water science and governance.

Abu Bakar Kamara (Sierra Leone)

Abu Bakar Kamara is a Water Resources Engineer with seven years’ experience in water supply systems operations and management. He has completed his master’s degree in Integrated Water Resources Management at the Technical University of Cologne, Germany.


Anne-Marie Albrecht

Water Youth Network

Anne-Marie Albrecht is a water science engineer specialized in flood risk management. She is currently working on the mitigation of flash floods in the southern part of Germany.


Vanh Mixap

EWPP Coordinator

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  • Chi Mun Woo is a partner in Sustainability and Climate Change at Deloitte Australia. He has over 20 years’ experience in advising organisations in the private and public sectors in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Australia on sustainability strategy, implementation and disclosure matters. Chi is an expert panel member of The International RiverFoundation’s Resilient Rivers Blueprint initiative.

  • Tarika works on research and business development for integrated water resources management including river basin management and water sensitive approaches in Indian context. With her work, she applies Australian best practice to the Indian context on themes on water management. Based in India, Tarika is a Water Management specialist with a background and expertise in integrated urban water resources management. She has applied water sensitive approaches locally in her academic work. She has worked with several NGOs in India and internationally, on various aspects of water and river management issues. During her career she has worked on desktop research, field studies and conducted several capacity building programs with a range of stakeholders from government to end users in various cities in India.

    • Has over 30 years of engagement in rural development issues at all levels, from ground level implementation, program management to policy engagement.
    • Areas of expertise include natural resource management, watershed development, integrated water resources management, sustainable agriculture, climate change adaptation, institutional and policy development.
    • Co-founded 4 non-profit institutions – Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR), the Sampada Trust (ST), Sanjeevani Institute of Empowerment and Development (SIED) and Sampada Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Foundation (SELF).
    • These institutions collectively have impacted the lives of over 3.7 million people in 8 states in India; trained over 475,000 people from 27 states and 63 countries and supported development works in over 4,800 villages.
    • Was the first Program Coordinator of the large-scale and well acclaimed bilateral Indo-German Watershed Development Program (IGWDP) in Maharashtra for 13 years.
    • Initiated, together with NABARD in 1999, the establishment of the Watershed Development Fund by the Government of India, which has supported watershed development activities in various states through NGOs.
    • In 2014 initiated, together with NABARD, the establishment of the National Adaptation Fund (NAF) by the Government of India, now managed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change, Govt. of India.
    • Alumnus of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune; has 5 academic degrees – 3 under-graduate degrees (BA) in philosophy, theology, and psychology and 2 graduate degrees (MA) in economics and public administration.
    • Has authored/ co-authored/ helmed several articles and 7 books, 3 of which have been published internationally.
    • Has been a regular participant in the Pre-Budget Consultations on Agriculture since the last 22 years
    • In September 2017, he was appointed to the Expert Working Group on Water Resources Management of the NITI Aayog (successor to India’s Planning Commission) and the Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Water Governance by the Govt. of Maharashtra.
  • Steven is a scientist and manager with senior experience in research, industry, and government developed through roles with The University of Queensland, CSIRO, Brisbane Water, Sydney Water, and private consulting. He has worked with urban water, wastewater and stormwater, and related energy and greenhouse gas issues since 1990.

    Steven’s work spans multiple disciplines including natural resources management and engineering and wider urban design, planning, economics, and governance. He has developed urban metabolism theory, including its links to integrated water management, circular economy and industrial ecology.

    Steven’s work is enhancing performance benchmarking of cities, shaping development, guiding policy and infrastructure investment locally and internationally. He has authored over 115 peer-reviewed articles (over 200 total articles), including over 50 Scopus-listed articles to 2020.

    Steven is a regular funded plenary and invited keynote presenter to peak international forums including: World Water Forum, World Water Congress, and World Water Week. He has secured over $7.2 million for his research area and delivered a range of significant international projects of high impact for the Water Research Foundation, Asian Development Bank, and CRC Water Sensitive Cities

  • Michael has over 30 years’ experience across the resources & industrial industries in Australia, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Prior to being appointed to the joint role of Executive Chair and CEO of Thiess, Michael was the CEO of ASX listed CIMIC Group, responsible for leading Sedgman, UGL, CPB Contractors, Leighton Asia and Thiess. He joined Thiess in 1998, starting as a Project Manager, and has held leadership and operational roles in the mining, construction and services sector, giving him expertise across operations, technical, commercial and strategy.

    Michael is a highly regarded and innovative leader focused on delivering value to clients and inspiring operational excellence by building strong, safe and performance-driven teams. He serves as a Director of the Minerals Council of Australia and the Sustainable Minerals Institute.

    He holds a Bachelor of Engineering Civil from the University of Sydney and a Master of Engineering Science from the University of New South Wales.