Our Story

About us

The International RiverFoundation champions integrated river basin management for the restoration, protection and sustainable management of the world’s rivers. We do this by facilitating leadership, celebration and collaboration.

Water is crucial for all life—and we need healthy rivers, lakes and wetlands for sustainable development. We promote and support effective management of these resources by facilitating knowledge sharing, education and best practice river basin management, and by recognising and rewarding those making a difference.

Our goals

  • To recognise, reward and replicate exceptional efforts in the protection, restoration and sustainable management of the world’s rivers,
  • To facilitate global knowledge sharing in sustainable, integrated river basin management,
  • To raise awareness of environmental, economic, scientific, social and cultural aspects of rivers,
  • To facilitate multi-sector partnerships and alliances that further global action to protect and revive rivers, and
  • To empower and support individuals to make a positive contribution for the world’s river basins.

We draw upon our large networks, and seek to build new ones, to revive the world’s rivers through multi-sector partnerships around the world. We are committed to supporting positive ecological, economic and social outcomes through our programs, which aim to change the lives of individuals and communities.

Global network






Twinning Partnerships


River Recovery Projects

Who we are

Our Team

Our story – Eva Abal

Eva Abal

Carla Littlejohn

Carla Littlejohn

General Manager, Portfolio & Partnerships
Our Story – Natalie Baker

Natalie Baker

International Riversymposium Manager
Our Story – Kelly McMillan

Kelly McMillan

Event Coordinator
Marion Schembri

Marion Schembri

Finance Officer
Jacqui Atique

Jacqui Atique

Project Officer
Our Story – Chris Skelton

Chris Skelton

Financial Advisor
Our Story – Abdula Bansuan

Abdula Bansuan

Project Coordinator – Philippines
Our Story – Vanh Mixap

Vanh Mixap

Project Coordinator – Emerging Water Professionals Program
Our Story – Tara Davis

Tara Davis

Alumni  Network Officer
Our Story – Sylvia Liu

Sylvia Liu

Communications Officer

Our Board <a id=”board”></a>

Our story – Paul Greenfield

Prof Paul Greenfield (Chair)

Our Story – Craig Morton

Craig Morton

Our Story – Peter Rowley

Dr Peter Rowley

Our Story – Selina Ward

Dr Selina Ward

Our Story – John McCarthy

John McCarthy AO

Our Story – Martin Albrecht

Martin Albrecht AC

Our Story – Philip Weller

Philip Weller

Our Story – Bill Dennison

Prof Bill Dennison

Our Story – Wouter Arriens

Wouter T Lincklaen Arriëns

Our Story – Brian Kemp

Brian Kemp

Our Ambassadors

Melanie Ryan

Luc Hoffmann Institute, UK

Johnny Sundstrom

Siuslaw Institute, USA

Prof Alastair Driver

International Catchment Restoration Specialist

Amos Brandeis

Consultant, Israel

Shrikant Limaye

Groundwater Institute, India

Olita Ogonjo

  • Dr Abal joins the International River Foundation after years of experience with the University of Queensland, Great Barrier Reef Foundation, SEQ Healthy Waterways Partnership (now Healthy Land and Water) and more recently as Strategic Projects and Partnerships Adviser of the International WaterCentre. In these roles, Eva has demonstrated skills in leading and managing large-scale trans-disciplinary programs towards paths to impact, establishing and maintaining collaborative networks, strategic alliances and applied research initiatives.  Eva sits on a number of independent expert/advisory panels such as for the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Plan, Healthy Land and Water, Fitzroy Partnership for River Health, Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership, Greening Australia and Gold Coast Water.  Eva’s passion and commitment in integrated water resources management in the Asia Pacific region is evidenced in her being one of the authors of the Asian Development Outlook 2011 and 2016, which chart progress towards water security in the region.

    E: eva@riverfoundation.org.au
    CV: Eva Abal CV
    L: www.linkedin.com/in/eva-abal-85000915/

  • Carla joined the IRF as Riversymposium and Twinning Officer in May 2018. She will spend the coming months assisting the IRF team to manage and deliver the annual International Riversymposium. Carla will also liaise and work with our Alumni and other partners to manage our existing Twinning programs and to identify and develop new partnership opportunities.

    Carla has extensive experience in integrated catchment management, water quality and environmental policy and legislation, gained in Australia, Europe and the UK. She has worked for various government and statutory organisations and has been working as a private consultant for the last 16 years. Carla’s experience includes developing and implementing policy guidance, workshop facilitation, stakeholder engagement, international capacity building and cross-cultural program and project management.

  • Marion has a background and skillset toward small business in different roles. She joined the International RiverFoundation in July 2019, as a Bookkeeper. Marion works 2 days per week, her main role is to maintain the accounts of the company and assist the rest of our team with other administrative tasks.

  • Jacqui has a Bachelor of Aquatic Ecology and a Diploma in Project Management.  She has over 15 years of experience in project management and over 10 years’ experience in natural area management.  She comes to IRF after working in the not-for-profit, consulting and government sectors managing aquatic environment programs.

    E: jacqui@riverfoundation.org.au

  • Chris Skelton joined IRF one day a week in July as consultant accountant. Chris has over 35 years experience in professional services encompassing advisory, accounting and audit services to a diverse range of industries covering private business and public companies including not for profit entities.

  • Abdula spent 20 years of his professional career working among academia NGOs, research centers, and local and national authorities, with over 10 years focused in the environment sector. He manages the WE-BUILD river recovery project in the Addalam River Basin, Luzon, Philippines, working with a wide range of partners to deliver leadership capability advancement for communities and local governments. Abdula holds a Master of Integrated Water Management, Master of Science in Environmental and Resource Management, Bachelor of Arts and Master of Public Administration. He is a member of International Water Association (IWA), Secretary of the Philippine Watershed Management Coalition (PWMC), and Ambassador of the International Water Centre (IWC).

    E: abdula@riverfoundation.org.au

  • Tara Davis joins us from the Thiess International Riverprize winning Willamette river, USA. As the Alumni Coordinator, Tara has been busy reaching out to previous Riverprize winners and finalists to establish an IRF Alumni Network, better connecting our Alumni and mobilising a valuable international community of experts. Tara has extensive experience in river restoration, non-profit management and fundraising, network development, collaboration and strategy development.

    E: alumni@riverfoundation.org.au

  • Sylvia Liu commenced work at the IRF in September as an intern to provide support for communications and is in charge of digital and print content creation. Sylvia has recently been employed full time in the position of Communications Officer. Sylvia graduated from the Queensland University of Technology in 2018 with a dual degree in Business and Design. She is passionate about user experience design and woud like to further increase awareness of the IRF brand internationally.

    E: sylvia@riverfoundation.com.au

  • Prof Greenfield is a past Chair of the International WaterCentre and a Director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Australian Academy of Engineering & Technology and Russo Business School. He has extensive experience as a Board Director and works widely with industry, government and universities on a range of projects spanning the biotechnology, water and energy sectors

    E: vspgreen@me.com
    L: www.linkedin.com/in/paul-greenfield-9282a64a/

  • Craig is Thiess’ Executive General Manager – Assets, with more than 22 years’ experience in chartered accounting and contracting. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and holds a Bachelor of Business from the Queensland University of Technology. Over the past 15 years, he has held senior positions including the role of Finance Director, APAC and Africa for a global EPCM provider. During his time at Thiess, he has held senior finance, commercial and operational positions as well as the role of General Manager Finance and Commercial for Thiess’ Australian Mining operations. Craig is renowned for his strong leadership and ability to link both commercial and operational drivers to achieve improved business outcomes.

  • Peter is the London-based Director and Head of the Global Oil & Gas Services Sector with ERM, and was also a Fulbright  Fellow and Associate Professor of Environmental Chemistry at Colorado State University. Peter has worked in the environmental consulting industry and has been involved in a large range of extractive industry projects in Asia, the Middle East , North America, Europe and the former Soviet Union. He is the ERM Liaison Delegate to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. He has lectured at The Judge Institute of Management at Cambridge University in the UK on sustainability in the global mining industry and gave the keynote address at the Zurich Global Risk Managers Conference on emerging mega risks for the industry.

  • Dr Selina Ward is a senior lecturer at The University of Queensland. For the past ten years, Selina has concentrated on the effects of climate change on corals, including the effects of bleaching on coral reproduction and the sub-bleaching effects of small changes in temperature. Currently Selina is examining the effects of ocean acidification. Selina has also worked on the uptake of symbiotic dinoflagellates and endolithic algae by newly settled corals.

  • Born in Washington, D.C., John McCarthy is a barrister-at-law and practised in London from 1965 to 1966. He worked with the New York Law Firm of Shearman & Sterling from 1966 to 1967 and joined the then-Australian Foreign Service in 1968. McCarthy has served as Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam (1981–83), Ambassador to Mexico (1985–87), Ambassador to Thailand (1992–94), Ambassador to the United States from 1995 to 1997, Ambassador to Indonesia (1997-2001), Ambassador to Japan (2001 – 2004), and High Commissioner to India (2004-2009). He has also served in diplomatic posts in Damascus, Baghdad and Vientiane. McCarthy was appointed an Officer of the Order for Australia in 1999 for service to the enhancement of Australia’s international reputation and to the development of Australian regional policy.

  • Martin was the inaugural Chair of the International RiverFoundation in 2003 and retired from the position in December 2010. He now remains involved as a Director. Martin was CEO of Thiess for over 15 years from 1985 and Chair of the Thiess Board and a Director of Leighton Holdings from 2001 – 2008. He maintains an active interest in a wide range of government, community, and cultural activities. He is a former member of the Board of Governors for CEDA and recently retired as Chairman of Wesley Research Institute. He was awarded Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2002, and also the Centenary Medal in 2003. Martin is also a recipient of Honorary Doctorates from University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, University of South Australia and Griffith University.

  • Philip Weller is an environmental planner, consultant in Canada and Austria, and the Danube Water Program Coordinator for the International Association of Danube Water Companies (IAWD). He was previously Director irector of Great Lakes United, Executive Secretary of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), and Programme Director of WWF International (Danube Carpathian Programme, 1995-2002), driving the ‘Lower Danube Green Corridor’, an agreement between Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine for the largest wetland protection and restoration initiative in Europe. Philip has considerable experience in the restoration of natural ecosystems and public involvement in environmental decision-making, and is the author of three books on environmental topics including ‘Freshwater Seas’, an environmental history of the Great Lakes of North America.

  • Bill leads the Integration and Application Network, a collection of scientists interested in solving, not just studying, environmental problems. He is actively involved in the Chesapeake Bay Program, USA and had an active role in the Healthy Waterways Campaign of South-East Queensland, Australia. Bill has a marine science background, and has published books and papers on a wide range of marine topics. In his current role as Vice-President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, his focus is on developing ways to effectively communicate science and to create credible and rigorous environmental report cards.

  • Founder and CEO of TransformationFirst.Asia Pte Ltd in Singapore, Coach Wouter as he is fondly known, is a brilliant leadership coach and trainer who brings out the best in people, breaks down barriers, and builds trust with all levels of the business. A former monk and banker who bridges East and West, he is called The Unlearning Coach because of how he helps executives and Millennial leaders to collaborate for innovation. An international thought leader, author, speaker, facilitator, trainer and mentor, Wouter has worked with local communities, professionals, entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, journalists, ministers, executives, and royalty. Working at the Asian Development Bank for two decades, he led many change initiatives in Asia, including a doubling of the bank’s water investments to $2 billion annually. Wouter is an engineer and scientist by training with a master’s degree from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

  • Brian is the General Manager -Conservation lands at Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) (Canada). Brian joined LSRCA in 1989 and has held positions in forestry and stewardship, public awareness/community relations, park management planning, conservation area development and maintenance, land securement and outdoor education. Brian is also LSRCA’s lead for the international twinning program with colleagues from the Ayuquila-Armeria Watershed in central Mexico. Outside of work Brian enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, exploring the great outdoors, and taking part in a variety of sports.