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18 January 2021 - 21 January 2021
Brussels, Belgium
Water and Beyond

Thursday, 21 January 2021

List of speakers

Tseguereda Abraham

Water Aid Ethiopia
Advocacy Expert

As Policy Advocacy Expert, Tseguereda Abraham has with long-standing experience on advocacy strategy development, WASH Campaigns delivery, programme management, and leading country programme Leadership. More than 12 years, she covered the issues WASH, Nutrition and Livelihood in international NGOs including WaterAid, OXFAM, CARE, FHI 360, and World Vision. Currently, she focuses on WaterAid’s Global Water and Climate Campaign. Her role also involves delivering sector analysis and designing local and national strategies to strengthen the deliver the sector. As policy expert Tseguereda Abraham is generating critical analysis on the national, regional and global level political economy which will inform and shape government and donor investments to accelerating access to WASH.

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Ben Ampomah

Water Resources Commission (WRC) of Ghana
Executive Secretary

Mr. Ben Ampomah is the Executive Secretary of the Water Resources Commission (WRC) of Ghana. He is an active practitioner in the water sector, with over 25 years in regulation, management, institutional, planning and policy development, and transboundary water governance. He is  the national focal point for the UNECE Watercourses Convention. He is also the national focal point for the ECOWAS Technical Advisory Committee on Water Resources Management and the Technical Experts Committee of the Volta Basin Authority.

Sophie Aujean

EU Representative

Sophie joined WaterAid as EU Representative in September 2018. She engages with the EU institutions to raise the profile of water, sanitation and hygiene in EU policies and programmes on global health and climate change adaptation. Previously, she worked for seven years for the European NGO ILGA-Europe, as Senior Policy and Programmes Officer, and for the European Commission (former DG Enlargement) and the European Parliament. She studied political and economic sciences in Sciences-Po Lille and holds a Master degree in human rights from the Facultés Saint Louis (Brussels).

Pedro Arrojo-Agudo

Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights
to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

From 2016-2019, Pedro Arrojo-Agudo served as an elected member (MP) of the Spanish Parliament. Prior, Arrojo-Agudo was Professor in the Area of Fundamentals of Economic Analysis at the University of Zaragoza (1989-2011), and has been professor emeritus since 2011. In 2002, Arrojo-Agudo co-founded the New Water Culture Foundation (NWCF), an Iberian non-profit organization, which aims to promote a change towards a new water culture. He is also the co-founder of the Public Water Network (RAP) as part of Aqua Pública Europea (the European association of public water operators), that promotes the human right to water and sanitation in the EU with initiatives such as the Right2Water.

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(Lesha) Boleslawa M. Witmer

Women for Water Partnership 
Steering Committee Member 

Lesha is founding- and Steering Committee member of Women for Water Partnership (WfWP). She serves as board and steering committee member of the European Pact for Water, the Butterfly Effect NGO coalition and the #ClimateIsWater campaign. She is a permanent representative to the UN for IFBPW (Business and Professional Women international) and WfWP and representative to the EU Parliament. Lesha is a former chair of the sustainable development committee of the Netherlands women’s council and a former advisor of the Netherlands government to the commission on sustainable development. Since 1991, Lesha works as independent senior advisor and facilitator. Her expertise: empowerment, equity, equality and participation (strategies), human resources, project- and process management; Sustainable Development policies; vocational training and mentoring, water stewardship, water diplomacy, water governance and management, advocacy, and capacity development. She holds degrees in Human Resource and General Management (Sittard & Nijenrode), studied western sociology (Erasmus) and (international and labor) law (University of Amsterdam).

Chris Burns

Journalist and Moderator

Chris Burns is a Franco-American journalist and media expert with more than 30 years' reporting experience in Europe, the U.S., Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. He's covered armed conflicts, election battles, financial crises, natural and human disasters as well as film festivals. For Euronews he’s been globetrotting to shoot magazine shows and was host of the hard talk show “The Network”. He was a Bloomberg TV reporter based in Brussels and Berlin, and a CNN correspondent based in Germany and the White House. He reported for the Associated Press from Paris, New York and Nashville. He's also a media consultant, media trainer and video producer, and has moderated panels, including for the World Economic Forum, OECD, OSCE, United Nations, World Bank and EU institutions. He graduated in political economy at the University of California, Berkeley, and did post-grad studies in Europe. Chris speaks five languages and has dual US-French nationality.

Sonja Koeppel


Sonja Koeppel currently leads the water team at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and serves as secretary to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) and co-secretary to the UNECE/ WHO-Europe Protocol on Water and Health. She has worked for more than 10 years in the secretariat, for example, coordinating the activities on climate change adaptation. Before joining UNECE, she worked for UNEP in Nairobi and studied environmental sciences, policy and management as well as social sciences.

Chantal Marijnissen

Directorate-General for International Partnership (DG INTPA), European Commission
Head of Unit Environment, Sustainable Natural Resources

Chantal Marijnissen is the Head of Unit for Environment and Sustainable Natural Resources in DG INTPA at the European Commission. Prior to this posting, she was the Acting Head of Unit for Effectiveness and Financing, where she negotiated the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on behalf of the EU and its Member States and Development Effectiveness Agenda (2014-2016). Chantal was also responsible for the multiannual programming of the European Development Fund and methodological aspects of EU development cooperation (2007-2014). She was the economic advisor to the EU Delegation in Chad (2004-2007). Before working in the Commission, she worked for an environmental NGO, FERN, on trade and Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) (1998 -2004) and for the International Institute on Environment and Development on forest certification (1996-1998). 

Carla Montesi

European Commission
Director of Green Deal and Digital Agenda Directorate, Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) 

Carla Montesi is currently Director at the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Partnership. She has been responsible for the Directorate “Green Deal and Digital Agenda” since September 2018 also in charge of the investment facilities and of the implementation of the external dimension of the EU’s Digital agenda and the Green Deal. Before that (2014-2018), she was Director for Western and Central Africa. Prior to 2014, she was Director at the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. Initially responsible for fisheries conservation, control and structural actions for the Mediterranean and Black Sea, she has piloted maritime policy as well as fisheries and funding for the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Landlocked Member States. Mrs Montesi's earlier career encompassed diverse responsibilities in the field of EU external policy for development and cooperation both at Headquarters and in EU Delegations in Africa, as well as experience in the Cabinet of EU Commissioner Emma Bonino for External Policy and Humanitarian Affairs. Formerly a lawyer in Italy, she specialised in European affairs at the College of Europe in Bruges.

Ana Novak

Permanent Representation of Slovenia to the EU
Development Cooperation Counsellor 

Ana Novak is Development Cooperation Counsellor at the Permanent Representation of Slovenia to the EU. After having graduated in Ethnology and Sociology of Culture and working some years in journalism, she focused the majority of her diplomatic work on Africa, development cooperation, and global challenges.

Luisa Ragher

European External Action Service (EEAS)
Head of Human Rights Division

A national of Italy, Luisa Ragher holds a degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Trieste, and a Master Degree in European Studies from the College of Europe in Bruges.

She started her career in the private sector as European and Governmental Affairs Manager for Ford Motor Company Europe. In 2001 she joined the European Commission External Relations Directorate General with responsibilities for relations with the US. During her time in headquarters, she has also been responsible for relations with Japan and worked for two years in the office of the Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service.

Between 2006 and 2010 she served at the EU Delegation to the United States as head of section for transport, energy and environment. Between 2014 and 2018 she served as deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Thailand. She is currently Head of the Human Rights Division of the European External Action Service.

Celine Robert

Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
Head of the Water and Sanitation Division

Céline Robert is Head of AFD’sWater and Sanitation Division, whose mission is to help AFD’s partner countries to achieve Sustainable Development Goal number 6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” Céline Robert took over as Head of the Water and Sanitation Division in 2019, where she had been working since 2010. She was initially in charge of developing and monitoring infrastructure and capacity-building projects in various countries including PalestineCôte d’Ivoire and Cambodia. She then took on the role of Deputy Head of the division in 2016. Celine Robert had previously gained experience working in the field. After obtaining a Master's degree in management of basic urban services, she worked for several years as a consultant in Cambodia for a subsidiary of the Burgeap environmental engineering office. She also worked for the AFD field office in Ghana.

Arnaud de Vanssay

European Commission
European Commission, Team Leader for Water, Environment, Sustainable Natural Resources Unit, Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA)

Arnaud is Team Leader for Water at the European Commission where he is tasked with providing global support for international partnerships and financial investments on water-related issues, ranging from WASH to conservation and management of the resource. Up to September 2020, Arnaud was Head of Section for Rural Development at European Delegation to Rwanda working on the country’s transformational path towards a sustainable and inclusive agriculture. From 2011 to 2015, Arnaud covered additional roles at the European Commission, including Capacity Development Manager for Europeaid, Policy Officer Nutrition and International Affairs, and Programme Manager Biomass and Household Energy. He also worked for more than five years in Madagascar, first as Programme Manager for Environmental Programme at Fidesco, and later on as Director at Confiturerie Saint Joseph. From 2004 to 2007, he worked at the United Nations Convention to Combat Divesification (UNCCD) in Bonn as Associate Programme Manager. Arnaud has a master of science on agronomy and crop science and a master of science in natural resource management and policy from the Agro-Paris Tech Institute.

Mariet Verhoef-Cohen

Women for Water Partnership

Since 2014, Mariet Verhoef-Cohen acts as President of Women for Water Partnership (WfWP). Recognised as an expert on the topic of water and how it impacts the lives of women and girls globally, Mariet was invited by the Dutch government to take part in the economic and water mission to South Africa. She has also represented WfWP at the World Water Council; at UN Water; in the Dushanbe International Advisory Committee for the Decade of Water and Sustainable development. Until August 2018, Mariet was the co-chair of WASAG, the Global Framework on Water Security and Agriculture. In her capacity as President of Soroptimist International, a global women’s volunteer movement, in 2017-2019 Mariet chose as her International President’s Appeal to focus on Women, Water and Leadership. Mariet has attended the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and other sessions at the UN several times and actively participated in four World Water Forums as an official representative. Mariet was granted the award ‘Women of the Decade Creating a Better World for All’ at the Women Economic Forum 2017; she received the Royal distinction of Officer in the Order of Orange Nassau in recognition of her ground-breaking voluntary work for SI and WfWP and in January 2020, she was honoured with the Evolutionary Business Council Global Impact Award 2019.

Closed since 18 January 2021
Brussels, Belgium
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France 35
Slovenia 32
Switzerland 23
Portugal 22
Italy 20
Netherlands 19
Germany 18
Sweden 18
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Chad 2
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Hungary 1
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Rwanda 1
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Syrian Arab Republic 1
Pakistan 1
Burkina Faso 1
Malawi 1
Swaziland 1
Togo 1
Croatia 1
China 1
Guinea 1
Peru 1
Iraq 1
Sudan 1
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Aruba 1
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Estonia 1
Japan 1
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Total 549
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Other 146
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Total 459
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