IWA Global Water Award

The IWA Global Water Award recognises individuals who, through innovative leadership and practice, have made an outstanding contribution to progress towards a world in which water is wisely managed. Showcasing exceptional individuals who have changed industry norms to create lasting progress, the IWA Global Water Award recognises and rewards water innovators who are driving impactful change.


This award recognizes the contribution of an individual (rather than an organisation or project). Consideration for the award is based on nominations. Nominations should not be by the nominee or a family member of the nominee. Nominees and those making nominations do not need to be members of IWA.

The award winner will be selected for the excellence of their contribution in terms of criteria set out in the Nomination Procedure below – spanning the excellence of the nominee in terms of vision, leadership and impact. All applications are made on a confidential basis.


27 MAY

1st nominations deadline


Top 5 candidates selected


Full submission deadline for 5 top candidates


Successful finalists will be informed

Award assessment criteria

  • Visionthe nominee will have established themselves as someone to whom others look for inspiration, insight and authority on the direction of developments relating to water.
  • Leadership – the nominee will have a demonstrated track record as a leader, initiating and overseeing action of note in the water sector.
  • Impact – the nominee will be someone who has clearly been influential in bringing about change in the sector.

Based on the above details, a review panel will make a preliminary assessment of all submissions and develop a shortlist of nominees. Shortlisted nominees will continue to a second stage.

The Award

The winner will receive a trophy and certificate honouring their contributions. The award will be presented at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in Copenhagen, Denmark (11-15 September 2022) – in front of an audience of water leaders from around the world, with additional introductions to various important groups and committees of IWA.

Receipt of the award marks the start of a period as the current Awardee when further profiling and engagements will be facilitated, including interviews for IWA communications, e.g., the IWA magazine The Source and / or the IWA website.

For all enquiries, please contact awards@iwahq.org


Am I allowed to nominate myself?

Self-nomination for the award is not permitted. You will need to be nominated by a peer to be eligible.

If the deadline is over and I forgot to submit a nomination. May I still send my nomination to be considered for an awards?

If the nomination for the award is closed. It means that the judging process has started. If you did not submit your nomination yet, unfortunately it won’t be possible to be considered for the award.

Is more than one person able nominate me for the award?

You are able to be nominated by others, however only one nomination will be considered.

I am based in a different country then my nominator(s). Are they still able to nominate me?

Yes, submission is open across different continents.

Am I able to send my nomination in a different language?

We are not able to receive a nomination from different languages. The only language we are able to get your submission is in English.

Do I need to submit my nomination via the nomination file?

We will only accept nominations that have a nomination file attached.  Any documents that do not follow the guidelines will not be accepted.

Past Awardees

Jamie Bartram

Jisung Wu

Daniel Okun

Mark van Loosdrecht

Jim Gill

Bianca Jimenez Cisneros

David Jenkins

Trussel Rhodes

Baoxing Qiu

Catarina de Albuquerque

Tony Wong

Marcos Von Sperling

2021 IWA Global Water Award

Marcos Von Sperling

Inspirational academic Marcos von Sperling has won the acclaimed IWA Global Water Award at the Digital World Water Congress.

Professor von Sperling, who works at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil, won the award for his work on wastewater and water pollution. Marcos’ research has focused on innovative solutions which have practical application. His research, which has influenced policy in Latin American and beyond, has inspired many students, researchers and policy-makers. Learn more…

2018 IWA Global Water Award

Tony Wong

Tony Wong is the winner of the 2018 IWA Global Water Award. The award recognises Wong’s pioneering programme of work – the water sensitive cities approach- that uses a unique socio-technical approach to concurrently address the social, environmental and economic challenges of traditional urban water management. Learn more about Tony Wong…

2016 IWA Global Water Award

Catarina de Albuquerque

Catarina de Albuquerque is the winner of the 2016 IWA Global Water Award. The award recognises the exceptional role she has played as the driving force behind the recognition of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation. In 2008 she became the first UN Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, having played a pivotal role in the recognition of water and sanitation as human rights by the UN General Assembly. Learn more.

2014 IWA Global Water Award

Qiu Baoxing

Dr. Qiu Baoxing has made outstanding contributions to manage and improve water pollution and water environmental governance in the face of China’s rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. Under his leadership between 2001-2013, the number of wastewater treatment plants in urban areas of China dramatically increased from 506 to 3513, a more than seven-fold increase. This equates to a total capacity increase from 35 million to 150 million cubic meter of wastewater being treated each day, a four-fold increase. Learn more… 

2012 IWA Global Water Award

Rhodes Trussell

Dr. Rhodes Trussell served for more than ten years on EPA’s Science Advisory Board, on several committees for the National Academies, including as Chair of their Water Science and Technology Board. For the International Water Association, Dr. Trussell has served on the Scientific and Technical Council, Editorial Boards, and on the Program Committee.

2010 IWA Global Water Award


David Jenkins

Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, USA

Blanca Jiménez Cisneros

Professor National Autonomous University of Mexico

2008 IWA Global Water Award

Jim Gill

Water Corporation of Western Australia, Australia

Mark van Loosdrecht

Professor Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

2006 IWA Global Water Award

Daniel A Okun

Kenan Professor of Environmental Engineering Emeritus, University of Northern California, USA

Professor Daniel A. Okun, was hailed worldwide for his groundbreaking work in identifying pristine water sources (including Chapel Hill’s Cane Creek Reservoir), water management, water supply, pollution control, water reclamation and reuse, and watershed protection issues.

During his career, Okun worked in 89 countries and consulted with municipal and legislative planning committees throughout the United States. Among professor Okun’s many contributions, he helped design a water treatment plant in Bangkok, Thailand; establish a graduate program in sanitary engineering in Lima, Peru; and studied water supply and pollution control in China for the World Bank. At home in Chapel Hill, he led the campaign to build Cane Creek Dam and Reservoir in the 1980s to ensure the most pristine water source possible for Chapel Hill and the UNC campus. Learn more.

2004 IWA Global Water Award

Jamie Bartram

Coordinator: Water, Sanitation and Health, World Health Organization, Geneva

Jisong Wu

Director-General of Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Water Resources, China

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