Keynote Speakers

Irina Overeem

Associate Professor  – Department of Geological Sciences & INSTAAR, University of Colorado at Boulder,  Boulder, CO, USA

Topic: Rivers Dynamics in Regions of Rapid Climate Change

Irina Overeem is an Associate Professor at the Department of Geological Sciences and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. Irina serves as the Deputy Director of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS).

She graduated in 2002 from the Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Earth Sciences at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on earth surface process modeling to quantify responses of sedimentary systems to changing environmental conditions. She has a keen interest in using field studies to critically assess model performance; and has applied projects in regions of rapid change (the Alaskan Coast, Greenland Rivers, the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta and the Yellow River).



Gabriela Eslava Bejarano

MPA in Development Practice candidate at the School of International Public Affairs, Columbia University.

Topic of the presentation: Future generations fighting climate change

Gabriela Eslava Bejarano is a lawyer, with a Minor in Journalism and Literature. She’s currently an MPA in Development Practice candidate at Columbia University.  
She’s an environmental advisor for the Red Cross Colombia, where she has developed an approach to carry out humanitarian aid in harmony with nature.
She has worked as a researcher at the Center for the Study of Law, Justice, and Society (Dejusticia) where she led the first climate change and future generations lawsuit in Latin America that resulted in recognition of the Amazon rainforest as an entity subject of rights.
Gabriela has also worked as a political advisor at Colombia’s Congress, where she focused on environmental justice, economic instruments for biodiversity conservation, the human right to water, and animal rights. Her main focus of work is on issues related to environmental policymaking.

Elenestina Mwape Mutekenya Mwelwa

ZESCO, Zambia

Topic of your presentation:  Lessons in Establishing the Environmental Flow Regime for the Hydropower dominated Middle Zambezi River

Dr Elenestina Mutekenya Mwelwa holds a PhD in Hydrology and is an experienced Environmentalist/Hydrologist with over 30 years of professional experience in the water resources management and hydropower sectors in Southern and East Africa, with specialisation in recent years in development and design of environmental flow regimes for hydropower schemes, undertaking effective environmental and social impact assessment of hydroelectric projects. Environmental assessments have been carried out in compliance with Zambian national legislation and generally to World Bank or other financing agency guidelines. Environmental flow regimes monitored and designed include the hydropower dominated Middle Zambezi and associated Kafue River Basins

Dr Mwelwa is an experienced Hydrologist / Environmental Scientist with a clear understanding that scientific research and advancements do play a big role in achieving sustainable development, which in turn contributes to uplifting people’s lives.

Virginia Ruiz-Villanueva

Swiss Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ)

Virginia Ruiz-Villanueva is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. She previously worked as a scientific collaborator at the ETH in Zurich and at the University of Geneva and Bern. She obtained her PhD in Geomorphology at the University Complutense of Madrid (Spain) in February 2013. Virginia is a fluvial geomorphologist and her research is focused on the understanding of fluvial ecosystem dynamics. She is interested in the form and function of rivers and their catchments and their linkages with the landscape, including physical-biotic interactions. For example, one focus of her current research is dedicated to the organic load of rivers (i.e., instream large wood), the study of its dynamics, its monitoring and its potential hazard during floods.