1 Our Story - International RiverFoundation

Our Story

About us

The International RiverFoundation champions integrated river basin management for the restoration, protection, sustainable management and resilience 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

Claire Hanratty

Claire Hanratty

Interim CEO
Our story – Eva Abal

Eva Abal

Strategic Advisor – Resilient Rivers
Olivia Wallace

Olivia Wallace

Marketing and Branding Officer
Marion Schembri

Marion Schembri

Finance Officer

Our Board <a id=”board”></a>

Our story – Paul Greenfield

Prof Paul Greenfield (Chair)

Our Story – Peter Rowley

Dr Peter Rowley

Our Story – Selina Ward

Dr Selina Ward

Our Story – John McCarthy

John McCarthy AO

Our Story – Bill Dennison

Prof Bill Dennison

Michael Wright

Michael Wright

Our Story – Jo Kelly

Jo Kelly

Our Story – Philip Weller

Philip Weller

Our Story – Wouter Arriens

Wouter T Lincklaen Arriëns

  • Claire is an internationally experienced CEO and director in the environment and for-purpose sectors with a deep commitment to delivering positive social and environmental outcomes. Drawing on her global leadership and strong commercial experience, she helps for-purpose organisation design, deliver and measure their impact through her role with [goodwolf.com.au]GoodWolf.

    Claire recently spent 5 years in the UK, during which she was CEO and Director of the Leapfrog Group, helping to create an equitable and socially sustainable climate transition in the UK. Prior to going to England, Claire was CEO and Managing Director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation with a focus on investing in a resilient reef in the face of climate change. Before becoming CEO and joining the Board, Claire was the Foundation’s General Manager for 3 years. Earlier in her career, she spent eight years with Rio Tinto in global strategy and process improvement roles – designing, scaling and improving central service functions, having begun her working life in finance with BP, working in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and Europe.

    Claire’s qualifications include MA, International Relationships & Development – MA Environmental Impact Investing (Oxford Brookes University), MBA (INSEAD, France), BComm & Admin (1st Class, Victoria University, Wellington, NZ)

    E: Claire@riverfoundation.com.au

  • 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/

  • Olivia is completing her final year in Digital Media Communications at the Queensland University of Technology. She comes to IRF with experience in delivering communication strategies across a range of platforms, industries and audiences.

    E: olivia@riverfoundation.com.au

  • 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.

  • 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/

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Executive Chairman and CEO of Thiess, Michael has over 30 years’ experience across the resources & industrial industries in Australia, Asia, Africa and the Americas. 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 also serves as a Director of the Minerals Council of Australia and the Sustainable Minerals Institute.

  • Jo is strategy and sustainability leader, experienced in defining and implementing strategies to evolve and grow businesses with over 20 years of experience across a variety of sectors including: Aquaculture, Food, Financial Services, Responsible Investment, Water & Environment, Transport, Defence and Health. Jo is the CEO of the Australian Seaweed Institute – an impact business to establish seaweed ocean farms and biotech innovation for Australian native seaweed products. Jo was recently awarded the Myer Foundation Innovation Fellow 2019 which acknowledges her mission to build a world class seaweed industry in Australia.

  • 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.

  • 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.