Shaminder Puri serves for a second term as Secretary General of the International Association of Hydrogeologists. His scientific, technical & policy experience on groundwater resource management comes from nearly four decades of work. His scope of practical experience derives from responsibility for the world’s largest water well drilling programme in the transboundary Rum-Saq Aquifer, restructuring of the coal sector in Ukraine and as global co coordinator of the Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management Programme (ISARM) under which an atlas of 273 aquifers was published.
He was also one of the prime technical contributors to the UN’s International Law Commission’s activities the issued Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers, adopted by the UN General Assembly. He has held senior advisory position with UNEP, UNESCO, the EU’s EuropeAid programmes and the Asian Development Bank. His current assignment includes establishing the African Groundwater Commission and advising the Governments of Lesotho and Swaziland on their transboundary water resources management.
Gabriel Eckstein is Professor of Law at Texas A&M University where he focuses on water, natural resources, and environmental law and policy issues at the local, national, and international levels. In addition to the law faculty, he also serves on the Graduate Faculties of the Texas A&M Water Management & Hydrological Science program and the Texas A&M Energy Institute.
Professor Eckstein has extensive experience internationally. He currently serves as chair of the International Scientific Committee and Bureau of the XVIth World Water Congress, which will be held in Cancun, Mexico, in May 2017. He has also served as an expert advisor and consultant for various UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other groups on US and international water and environmental issues. From 2003-2008, he served as an advisor to the UNILC and UNESCO in the development of the Draft Articles on Transboundary Aquifers. In addition, Professor Eckstein directs the consultancy International H2O Solutions, LLC, as well as the non-profit International Water Law Project, and serves as Of Counsel with the law firm of Sullivan & Worcester. He also participates as an Associate Editor for Brill Research Perspectives: International Water Law and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Water Law, and is an executive board member of the International Association for Water Law.
Along with his Juris Doctor degree, Professor Eckstein holds an LL.M. in International Environmental Law, an M.S. in International Affairs, and a B.A. in Geology.
Geert-Jan Nijsten works as a senior researcher at International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC). He works in projects on assessment and governance of transboundary aquifers. He is also engaged in advocacy for groundwater inclusion in IWRM and for sustainable groundwater management in general.
Geert-Jan is a hydrogeologist with over 20 years of experience in groundwater exploration, management and governance. His experience includes research, consultancy, policy development and implementation. Early on in his career, he worked in Mauritania and Botswana in groundwater exploration and research. In the Netherlands he worked in applied research, consultancy and as a policy advisor. His engagement developed from specialised groundwater studies to multi-disciplinary projects and groundwater governance. Before joining IGRAC in 2012, he worked nearly 10 years as project manager and policy advisor for a regional government. He joined IGRAC to use his knowledge and experience to help advance sustainable management of groundwater resources in countries where groundwater is crucial for further development. “I like to interact on the interface of science and policy: Technical people are not always able to answer questions relevant to policy makers, and policy makers sometimes don’t understand the relevance of technical studies. With my experience I can be a useful intermediary in those situations.”
Geert-Jan holds an MSC in Hydrogeology from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Karen G. Villholth
Karen G. Villholth has more than 25 years of experience in groundwater resources assessment and management. She deals with research, policy advice, and capacity development related to groundwater irrigation for smallholders, transboundary aquifers, groundwater resources assessment, climate change impact assessment on groundwater resources, adaptation through underground solutions, role of depleting aquifers in global food production, groundwater and ecosystem services, and groundwater management and governance for institutions at various levels, from local to global. She engages with multidisciplinary teams and stakeholders in co-developing tools, approaches, and policies to inform and implement a more sustainable use of groundwater for livelihoods, food security, and environmental integrity.
Karen is a Principal Researcher and a sub-Theme Leader on Groundwater and Subsurface Solutions, working with International Water Management Institute (IWMI), from the Southern Africa regional office in Pretoria, South Africa. She is leading the global IWMI-led partnership initiative on Groundwater Solutions for Policy and Practice (GRIPP) that aims to enhance attention to and improvement in groundwater management in countries heavily reliant on groundwater for irrigation and food production.
Karen holds a PhD in Groundwater Assessment and a MSc in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark and a MSc in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington. She previously worked for DHI-Water and Environment, Denmark and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. She worked on groundwater issues in the South Asia region during her three year assignment with IWMI in Sri Lanka 2004-2007.