Technical Programme Committee

Technical Programme Committee

Alfonso Rivera

Co-Chair of Scientific Committee

Alfonso Rivera is the former Chief Hydrogeologist of the Geological Survey of Canada. Alfonso is the author and editor of the book “Canada’s Groundwater Resources” published in 2014. He is adjunct professor at the University of Quebec-INRS, Canada, and member of the Académie de l’eau, France.

He has a vast international experience having practiced hydrogeology for 40 years in Mexico, France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and has established permanently in Canada since 1999. Alfonso collaborates with research institutions and universities in Canada, the United States, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Spain and Argentina. He led the ISARM-Americas group of 24 countries for UNESCO in the preparation of the Regional Strategy for the Evaluation and Management of Transboundary Aquifers in the Americas, and produced a Special Issue on the Transboundary Aquifers of the World. He provides scientific and technical advice to various Canadian and international institutions and governments – UNESCO, RAMSAR, IAEA, IAH, and others.

Alfonso holds a PhD in Quantitative Hydrogeology from the École des Mines de Paris and Université Pierre & Marie Curie, France.

Alice Aureli

Chief of Section Groundwater Systems and Settlements Section - UNESCO

Alice Aureli is a Water Resources expert, she holds a PhD in Hydrogeology.  She has over 30 years of experience in groundwater resources management and governance. In addition to her many years of research and teaching, she is the Chief of the UNESCO’s Groundwater Systems and Water for Human Settlements Section. As member of the Secretariat of the UNESCO's intergovernmental International Hydrological Programme (IHP) she is responsible for, amongst others, the International Shared Aquifers Resources Management (ISARM) initiative. This role has led her to supervise the work of the UNESCO’s expert team that supported the UN International Law Commission in the preparation of the Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers. An important aspect of her work has been on scientific and policy-related issues surrounding groundwater governance. Recipient of several international awards she continues to lecture regularly on a variety of postgraduate courses and coordinate masters studies and PhD in the field of transboundary waters, hydrogeology and groundwater resources management. Ms Aureli is the author of a large number of publications and served as editor of various international journals.  

Gabriel Eckstein

Professor of Law, Texas A&M University

Gabriel Eckstein is Professor of Law at Texas A&M University and Director of the law school’s Program in Energy, Environmental & Natural Resources Systems. He specializes on water, natural resources, and environmental law and policy issues at the local, national, and international levels, and is especially recognized for his work on the international law for transboundary aquifers. Eckstein regularly advises UN agencies, national and sub-national governments, NGOs, and other groups on international and US water and environmental issues. He currently serves as President of the International Water Resources Association, Executive Council member of the International Association for Water Law, Associate Editor for Brill Research Perspectives: International Water Law, and Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Water Law.

Karen G. Villholth

Principal Researcher, Coordinator – Groundwater, International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

Dr. Karen Villholth heads up the Groundwater Program at IWMI and coordinates the Groundwater Solutions Initiative for Policy and Practice (GRIPP), a global partnership of 30 international organizations supporting sustainable development, use and management of groundwater. She has worked extensively on groundwater and co-pioneered the transboundary aquifer agenda in the Southern Africa region along with regional, national and international partners. Her portfolio embraces significant interdisciplinary approaches to enhance the understanding, uptake and attention to groundwater at local to global scales. She contributes to the World Water Development Reports, AMCOW, UNECE, UNEP, World Bank, SuSanA, UNESCO, FAO, and RAMSAR documents related to groundwater solutions and transboundary aquifers.

Kevin Pietersen

IAH TBA Commission

Dr Kevin Pietersen has 25+ years’ experience in the water, environment, geosciences and energy sectors. He is an Associate of the UNESCO Chair of Geohydrology, Extraordinary Senior Lecturer in the Institute for Water Studies at the University of the Western Cape, and a director of L2K2 Consultants (Pty) Ltd. He was the team leader for the for the Consultancy Services for Water Resources Management Research in the Eastern Kalahari Karoo Basin Transboundary Aquifer funded by the SADC-GMI. He also conducted a capacity needs assessment for groundwater management throughout SADC-region. He was also the Team Leader for the compilation of the SADC Hydrogeology Map. He is currently developing the Strategic Action Plan for the Stampriet Transboundary Aquifer System on behalf of UNESCO.


Neno Kukuric

IGRAC Director

Dr Neno Kukurić is a groundwater specialist with over 30 years of experience gained worldwide as a field hydrogeologist, consultant, scientific researcher and manager. His professional interest is international water cooperation and multi-disciplinary approach to water-related issues. He obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in hydrogeology from the University of Belgrade, M.Sc. in hydrology from IHE-Delft and PhD in hydrogeology/informatics from the Free University in Amsterdam. During the last 15 years, Neno Kukurić has particularly been involved in assessment and management of transboundary groundwaters worldwide and groundwater monitoring. Previously, he was responsible, among others, for a development of the Integrated Hydrological Model of the Netherlands and the Hydrogeological Information System of the Netherlands. Since 2011, he serves as a director of the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC,  

Ralf Klingbeil (*)

Vice President Science and Programme of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH)

Dr. Ralf Klingbeil has been elected in 2020 as Vice President Science and Programme of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH). Since 2001, Ralf has been working in various positions for the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR). He has been responsible for international project coordination and groundwater projects in Africa, the Middle East and globally. Currently he is Senior Expert in the working group “Groundwater Resources - Quality and Dynamics”. While on leave from BGR 2008 to 2017, Ralf served in various functions as member of the Board of Directors for the Middle East North Africa Network of Water Centres of Excellence (MENA NWC), as Regional Advisor on environment and water for the UN Regional Commission ESCWA, as Network Coordinator for AWARENET, as Senior Programme Officer for UN-Water, Decade Programme on Capacity Development. Prior to BGR he worked as hydrogeologist for private sector consultancies in Germany and UK. Ralf Klingbeil holds a PhD in Hydrogeology / Applied Geology from Tübingen, Germany, the title Diplom-Geophysiker (similar M.Sc. Geophysics) from Kiel, Germany and a M.Sc. Hydrogeology from Birmingham, UK. 

(*) With the sad and sudden passing of Dr Ralf Klingbeil earlier this year, UNESCO IHP is reminded of Ralf’s personal and professional commitment to the field of hydrogeology and most notably to the ISARM programme and most recently in his capacity as Vice President of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH). We join with others amongst the UNESCO water family in paying tribute to Ralf's memory and we thank him for his expertise, support and inspiration.  

Rosario Sanchez

Senior Research Scientist for the Texas Water Resources Institute, at Texas A&M University

Dr. Rosario Sanchez is the leader of the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Act program to integrate research and data on transboundary aquifers between Mexico and Texas. She leads the transboundary groundwater research team with 15 years of academic and work experience on transboundary issues between Mexico and the United States.

Rosario has been working and publishing on transboundary water issues at an international and binational level since 2006. Her research can be found on the Transboundary Water Portal. She developed a data-sharing portal to promote dissemination of information related to transboundary groundwater resources.

Shaminder Puri

Co-Chair of Scientific Committee

Shaminder Puri has served two terms as Secretary General of the International Association of Hydrogeologists. He was Chair of the IAH Commission on Transboundary Aquifers. His scientific, technical & policy experience on groundwater resource management comes from over four decades of international work in 35 countries. His scope of practical experience derives from a range of responsibilities, such as the world’s largest water well drilling programme in the transboundary Rum-Saq Aquifer (2011-2012), restructuring of the coal sector in Ukraine and as the global co coordinator of the Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management Programme (ISARM,) under which, he compiled the UNESCO global atlas of 273 transboundary aquifers. He was also one of the prime technical contributors to the UN International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013. He has held senior advisory position with UNEP, UNESCO, the EU’s EuropeAid programmes and the Asian Development Bank. 

Stefano Burchi

Chairman of the Executive Council (AIDA)

Stefano Burchi is an expert in comparative and international water law. From 1983 to 2008, he served in the Development Law Service of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization where he concluded his tenure as Service Chief. While at FAO, Mr. Burchi served as in-house legal expert and advisor on domestic and international water law to FAO member countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. His work included reviewing, analysing, and drafting principal and subsidiary water resources legislation, training in water law, and advising on legal and institutional arrangements for transboundary freshwaters. In addition, Mr. Burchi advised various organizations and programs on global and transboundary water issues, including the U.N. International Law Commission, UNESCO/ISARM Programme and the UNESCO GGRETA project, and the World Bank. Since retiring from FAO, Mr. Burchi has taken up a variety of water law consultancies with UNESCO, FAO, GEF, the EU (SWIM-SM), and individual governments. He has also assumed the chairmanship of the International Association for Water Law (AIDA).  Mr. Burchi holds an LL.B. from La Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, and an M.S. from the University of Michigan. He is fluent in English, French, Italian, and Spanish.

Raya Stephan

Water Law Expert

Raya Marina Stephan has a background in international law. She is an international consultant with expertise in water law. She has a wide experience in studies and international projects related to legal and institutional aspects of water management and transboundary waters with a specific focus on transboundary aquifers. Her expertise includes the mapping and assessment of existing legal and institutional frameworks, and providing recommendations and options for future changes and improvements, including the establishment and enhancement of joint mechanisms for cooperation.

Raya has experience in various regions of the world such as the Arab countries, the Mediterranean, South-East Europe and others. She collaborates with and advises international and regional organizations such as UNESCO, UNECE, UNESCWA, GWP-Med and the League of Arab States She is an invited expert to lecture in Universities. She is currently the Deputy Editor in Chief of Water International. She is a board and a fellow member of the International Water Resources Association, and a board member of the French Water Partnership. 

Mahmoud Radwan

ISARM Secretariat 

Mahmoud Radwan is an Associate Project Officer at the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP) at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. He completed his Masters in 2019 at the University of Waterloo, Canada that focused on Water Security and Development Practice, he completed a Bachelor in Environmental Engineering specializing in Water and Sanitation in Zewail University, Egypt. His professional interests are in the global Sustainable Development Goal 6, access to water and sanitation. Mahmoud has experience in development practice related to water/sanitation, sustainable energy technologies, rural/urban development and waste management through jobs and consultancies in France, Canada, Germany, Nigeria, Jordan and Turkey as well as his native Egypt.