Agenda setting thought leadership from the most 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 congress. Keynotes and supporting panels will frame the key discussions and topics that will be addressed during the week of the congress.

Keynotes of the 2015 Water and Development Congress & Exhibition edition

Meet the 2017 Keynotes

Léo Heller is the second Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. He was appointed by the Human Rights Council in November 2014, having started his mandate on 1 December that year. Heller is currently a researcher in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil. Previously, Heller was Professor of the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil from 1990 to 2014.  During his career in the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Heller held several positions including the Head of the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, Associate Provost of Graduate Studies, Dean of the School of Engineering and coordinator of the Graduate Program in Basic Sanitation, the Environment and Water Resources.

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Heller has extensive experience in formulating policies, teaching and researching in the field of public policy and management and of environmental health related to water and sanitation. He has been coordinating large interdisciplinary research groups and he is author of several books, book chapters and journal articles on technological, health and policy dimensions of water and sanitation. He has long tradition of working together with and taking part in social movements related to human rights to water and sanitation, especially in Latin America.

He holds a BA in civil engineering, MSc in water, sanitation and the environment and PhD in Epidemiology, with a thesis on the association between water and sanitation and health outcomes. He also carried out post-doctoral research at the University of Oxford (2005-2006), focusing on the theoretical aspects of public policy and management in the water and sanitation sector. Heller speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Benedito Braga is Secretary of State for Sanitation and Water Resources for the state of Sao Paulo and professor (on leave of absence) of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Escola Politecnica of University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil.

Prof. Braga was elected to his first three-year mandate as President of the World Water Council in November 2012 and was reelected for a second term in November 2015. Before this, from 2006 to 2012, he served as Vice-President of the World Water Council and chaired the International Steering Committee (ISC) of the 6th and 7th editions of the World Water Forum in Marseille (France) and Daegu-Gyeongbuk (Korea).

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He was a member of UNESCO – International Hydrologic Program committee that designed its phase V (1995 – 2000). At UNESCO, he was elected President of the Intergovernmental Council of the International Hydrologic Program (2008-2009). He served as senior advisor to the Secretary of Energy and Sanitation of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2010 and was a member of the Gulbenkian Think Tank for the future of water and humankind based in Lisbon, Portugal (2010 – 2012).He served on the Board of Directors of the Brazilian National Water Agency – ANA from 2001-2009. He was President of the International Water Resources Association (1998-2000)

Prof. Braga is the author of 25 books and chapters of books. He has edited several books on water resources development including Water Management of the Amazon Basin, Weather Radar Technology for Water Resources Management, Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Freshwaters of Brazil. He is the author of more than 200 scientific articles published in journals and proceedings of symposia and congresses worldwide.

He is the recipient of the 2002 Crystal Drop Award, given by the International Water Resources Association – IWRA in recognition for his lifetime achievements in the area of water resources management. In 2009, Prof. Braga was awarded the Honorary Membership of the American Water Resources Association – AWRA for his eminence in the field of water resources. In the same year he was awarded the Flavio Terra Barth Award of the Brazilian Water Resources Association for his contributions to the water resources policies of Brazil. In 2011 he was awarded the Honorary Diplomate from the American Society of Civil Engineers due to his long and distinguished career in the field of water resources.

Prof. Braga graduated from Escola Politecnica of University of Sao Paulo in 1972. He holds a M.Sc. in Hydraulic Engineering from USP (1975), a M.Sc. in Hydrology (1976) and Ph.D. (1979) in water resources from Stanford University, USA. His scientific interests are in the field of systems analysis modeling of hydrologic processes, integrated water resources management and water policy development.

Luis Alberto Moreno assumed the presidency of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in October 2005. As President of the Bank, Moreno also chairs the Board of Executive Directors of the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) and the Donors’ Committee of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).

Among the principal achievements under President Moreno’s leadership of the IDB is the Ninth General Capital Increase in 2010, which represented an expansion of financing and technical assistance to the region, and allowed for a historical financial program to Haiti of more than US$2 billion. This higher level of contribution to Latin American and the Caribbean economies was accompanied by an improved framework for the monitoring and evaluation of development effectiveness, the establishment of the first Environmental Safeguards Unit in a multilateral development bank, and the implementation of an operational policy for gender equality.

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During his tenure, the IDB has undergone a profound transformation of its organization, a significant generational change, and a record increase of women in leadership positions at the institution, along with a reinforcement of its transparency and accountability systems.

The changes promoted by Moreno have also strengthened the multi-sectoral work of the Bank through the launching of platforms, programs, and cross-cutting thematic initiatives of global recognition, including the initiatives of Sustainable Energy and Climate Change, of Emerging and Sustainable Cities, the Opportunities for the Majority and ConnectAmericas. He has also led the organization of more than 30 international summits, including the CEO Summits of the Americas in 2012 and 2015.

Moreno holds a degree in Business Administration and Economics from Florida Atlantic University in 1975 and an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in 1977. For his achievements in the field of journalism, in 1990 Harvard University awarded him a Neiman Fellowship to pursue specialized studies and research at that institution. Moreno also holds the honorary degrees of Humaniorum Litterarum Doctorem, and Doctorem in Letters from Georgetown University and Baruch College, respectively, and a Honoris Causa in Business Administration from Icesi University.

Guangzhe Chen assumed the role of Senior Director for the Water Global Practice (GP) within the Sustainable Development Vice-Presidency at the World Bank Group in October 2016. In this position, he oversees the formulation and implementation of strategy and programs working internally with agriculture, energy, environment, urban and other GPs and regions, as well as with external clients and partners. He supports the development and delivery of knowledge and financing programs to country clients, overseeing a total portfolio of roughly $35 billion in 170 projects globally. He leads a team of over 300 specialists from 78 nationalities based in nearly 60 countries around the world.

Prior to this position, Mr. Chen served as a two-term country director for the World Bank during 2011-2016, first in Ethiopia, and then in Southern Africa covering Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, based in Pretoria. As country director, he was responsible for the development and implementation of the Bank’s lending and knowledge programs in those countries.

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An economist by training, Mr. Chen has over 20 years of international experience in the field of sustainable development, infrastructure finance and management with the World Bank Group and the Asian Development Bank.  From 2001-2011, he held various managerial positions in the Latin America and Caribbean and South Asia regions of the World Bank, including transport, water supply and sanitation, urban development and disaster risk management. Prior to this, Mr. Chen led on the preparation, implementation, and economic policy work and technical assistance activities for infrastructure projects as a task team leader, having joined the World Bank initially as a transport economist in 1997.

Before joining the World Bank, Mr. Chen worked as a project economist at the Asian Development Bank from 1992-1997. In addition, from 2011-2013 Mr. Chen served as a member of the high-level expert group appointed by the Government of Guangdong Province, China, advising the provincial government in the implementation of its Development Vision 2020 for the Pearl River Delta Area. Moreover, Mr. Chen has frequently participated in major international conferences on infrastructure, finance and development as key note speaker over the last 15 years.

A Chinese national, Mr. Chen holds a graduate degree in Economics from Harvard University, USA, and B.A. in Economics from Zhongshan (Sun Yat-Sen) University, Guangzhou, China.

Dhesigen Naidoo is Chief Executive Officer of the South African Water Resources Commission. He was appointment after spending several years working for, among others, the Departments of Water Affairs and Forestry, Science and Technology, and Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

At the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Naidoo held the position of Deputy Director-General: International Co-operation and Resources, and was responsible for Government initiatives to mobilise and secure a net flow of scientific knowledge and resources into South Africa for the benefit of the South African science and technology community and society as a whole. While at the DST, Naidoo also worked as a Project Leader for the development of the Technology Innovation Agency.  This was a special task assigned by the Minister to co-ordinate DST’s efforts to establish a public entity to bridge the innovation chasm and stimulate the development of a significant technology portfolio in the South African economy.

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From 2001 to 2003 Naidoo occupied the position of Chief Director: Environmental Planning and Co-ordination, at the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Here he served as a head of planning and co-ordination for environmental management at national level. This role included dealing with issues of legislative reform, capacity building, environmental impact assessment and environmental information systems – including the compiling of national reports for international organisations such as the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development (UNCSD).

In his most recent role before joining the Water Research Commission, Naidoo worked at the University of Pretoria (UP) as Director: Research and Innovation Support. At UP he was involved in managing the overall research portfolio of the University, providing strategic direction and support to the various faculties, schools and centres. Naidoo’s portfolio at UP also involved the establishment of the UP Technology Transfer Office and the UP Commercialization Office.

Naidoo has served on various Boards including the Board of the Water Research Commission, the SANBI Board Committee on Research and Development, the Board of the Africa Institute of South Africa, and the Board of Governors of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

Naidoo holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry and Biochemistry and B.Sc. Honours in Biochemistry from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, and an M.Sc. in Medicine from the University of Cape Town. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Management from the University of Cape Town.

World Water Congress & Exhibition Keynotes

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