S-B1 Innovations in Managing Water

The World Economic Forum identified water crises as two of the top-10 global risks in 2015. Having too little, or too much, water leads to devastating impacts, and while these are often local, water security is now recognized as a systemic global risk. This session will explore innovative water stewardship strategies which integrate food and energy demands and prices, environmental and social impacts. It will also explore tools to help understand the implications of different solutions under different socio-economic, energy, and climate change scenarios in diverse countries.

Moderator: Jerad Bales, Chief Scientist for Water, U.S. Geological Survey


  • Astrid Hillers, Senior Environmental Specialist, Program Manager, Global Initiatives and Africa International Waters, Global Environment Facility
  • William Sarni, Enterprise Water Strategy Consulting Leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Joshua Viers, Director, Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and Associate Professor, Water Resources Engineering, University of California, Merced
  • Paul Faeth, Director, Energy, Water and Climate, Institute for Public Research, CNA

Jerad Bales is responsible for the planning and development of national basic and applied research programs related to the hydrologic environment at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). He also oversees and evaluates the results of research efforts conducted by universities under the mandates of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984; coordinates the USGS Hydrologic Research and Development Program and the Water Resources Research Institutes Program; and assists other USGS leaders with external national and international programs. Bales represents the USGS on a number of external committees, including as co-chair of the Subcommittee on Water Availability of the National Science and Technology Council. He was Water Sector lead for the U.S. 2013 National Climate Assessment and is a member of many research coordinating and synthesis groups. (703-648-5044; jdbales@usgs.gov)

Joshua Viers is an expert in water resource management and environmental decision making. He has over 20 years of professional experience in agroecology, landscape ecology, and watershed science. By leveraging geospatial technologies and informatics, he has developed innovative solutions in conservation, restoration, and sustainability. He has managed over $30M in applied research, and authored or co‐authored over 120 scientific publications. 209-591-8423, jviers@ucmerced.edu

Astrid Hillers joined the GEF in 2012, coming from the World Bank where she has worked since 2000. She led the International Water Focal Area for two years and is now coordinator for Strategic Global Initiatives at the GEF while continuing to lead the GEF IW Program in Africa. The Nexus between water-food-energy and ecosystems is underlying both conflict and cooperation potential in many basins. Catalyzing transboundary cooperation to balance such competing uses of water is underlying the GEF’s core strategic objectives in the IW Focal Area. GEF is one of the largest funder in this field with experience in basins and regions across the globe.Prior to joining the GEF, Astrid has been engaged in cooperation on river basins in Africa, especially the Nile, most of her time at the World Bank and previous work at UNDP. Astrid is a German national and an environmental engineer by training and before coming to the U.S. in 1989, she worked for the German EPA in the water quality compliance program of the city/state of Hamburg.202-458-8173 ahillers@thegef.org

Will Sarni is a director with Deloitte Consulting LLP and leader of its Enterprise Water Strategy practice. For more than three decades he has been providing environmental and sustainability services to private and public-sector enterprises. Will is also an internationally recognized thought leader in developing and implementing corporate-wide water stewardship and sustainability strategies. 303-294-4217 wsarni@deloitte.com
For more:
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Paul Faeth is Director, Energy, Water and Climate in the Institute for Public Research at CNA, where he is leading work exploring the policy synergies between these themes. Prior to joining CNA, Faeth was the President of Global Water Challenge, a coalition working on WASH in developing countries. Faeth worked for 18 years at WRI, where he led the Economics Program and then became the institute’s Managing Director. Faeth also worked at the International Institute for Environment and Development and the USDA’s Economic Research Service. He holds degrees in Agricultural Engineering and Resource Systems and Policy Design. (202-294-5471, faethp@cna.org)