IWA Young Leadership Award

The IWA Young Leadership Award is granted to an exceptional water professional age 35 or younger who has demonstrated significant achievements in his/her career. The awardee has demonstrated outstanding leadership potential and the ability to play a large and influential role in the water industry in the future.

Throughout the two-year tenure as Young Leadership Award holder, he/she also takes the office of Young Leadership Ambassador for the International Water Association and the IWA Young Water Professionals Community.


The Young Leadership Award receives a trophy and certificate at The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition – in front of an audience of water leaders from around the world. She or he will be introduced to IWA Leadership Committees (IWA Board, Strategic Council, Governing Member Committees, IWA YWP Steering Committee) during the President’s Dinner before the start of the World Water Congress & Exhibition.

It is an extraordinary opportunity to be profiled and introduced to the IWA network and being known as the IWA Young Leadership Award Winner forever. The position of IWA Young Leader Ambassador, throughout a tenure of 2 years, encourages more young water professionals to get to know the IWA and understand its opportunities. A personalised IWA induction, invitations as Inspirational Speaker during the opening of the International Young Water Professionals Conference, the option of joining the YWP Steering Committee meetings and represent IWA YWP community at (IWA) Water related events worldwide are some of the highlights that are part of the IWA Young Leadership Award.

How to Submit a Nomination

The award judges will assess all nominations and select a shortlist of the top 5 candidates for full submission.

For shortlisted nominees, the following is required:

  • Detailed description addressing the judging criteria (in four sections) (maximum of 1200 words in total)
  • Biography (maximum of 150 words)
  • Attach documents (maximum of 3) that prove the achievement of the criteria (including one letter of reference focusing on addressing judging criteria)
  • Two photos (high resolution)


  • Vision (25%) – The individual works towards contributing to the water sector and sustainable development and sets goals that are beyond him/herself.
  • Initiative (25%) – The individual has taken initiative and responsibility to contribute to sustainable water management and practices by developing new ideas and or opening new possibilities and opportunities
  • Motivator (25%) – There is evidence of (voluntary) work/ projects that demonstrates how the individual has motivated (a broad group of) professionals within or beyond the water sector and across disciplines to act towards achieving a common goal and positions the individual as a role model among peers and the wider community.
  • Impact to water sector (25%) – The individual has made an impact with his/her work to influence the water (related) sector – professionals, practices, solutions

Nomination process

Nominations must be made by submitting a nomination application through an online nomination portal. 2022 applications are now closed.

When preparing to make a nomination, the nominator should anticipate the need to supply:

  • Details of nominated individual (Name, Affiliation, Country, Email address, Phone number)
  • Details of nominator (Name, Affiliation, Country, Email address, Phone number)
  • A Motivation (300-500 words), explaining why your nominee should win the award, addressing all judging criteria.
  • A Biography of the nominee (maximum of 150 words)


The Award is open to water (-related) sector professionals who are 35 years or younger.

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.

All applications are made on a confidential basis.

Past Awardees

2022 IWA Young Leadership Award

Dr. Céline Vaneeckhaute is associate professor at Université Laval in Quebec, Canada and director of the BioEngine Research Team on Green Process Engineering and Biorefineries, composed of over 15 full-time researchers under her principal supervision. She holds the Canada Research Chair in resource recovery and bioproducts engineering (Tier II), a highly prestigious title awarded by the Government of Canada to exceptional young researchers, acknowledged by their peers as emerging international leaders in their field.

Dr. Vaneeckhaute’s innovative work on water resource recovery facilities has led to the achievement of numerous prestigious research awards such as the Prix du Québec Relève Scientifique (the highest distinction for scientists awarded by the government of Quebec), the Prix Honoris Genius Relève (the highest distinction for engineers awarded by the Quebec Order of Engineers) and the Flemish Water Technology Award (emitted by the Flemish Network on Water Technologies for highly innovative research). She is steering board member of the International Water Association Resource Recovery from Water Cluster and of the Phosphorus Modelling Group at the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance, as well as President of the Waste and Energy Management Division of the Food Production Topical Team at the Canadian Space Agency, to name a few. Prior to her occupation as a Professor, she was assistant director for the biomethanation processes at Quebec City. She has also been active as an independent consultant in the field. Dr. Vaneeckhaute holds a double PhD degree in water engineering at Université Laval and applied bioscience engineering at Ghent University (Belgium).

“Optimal management of global water resources is one of the most crucial challenges of the 21st century. Beyond technological innovations, we all have the duty to raise awareness, work on our own improvements and those of our community, and by all potential means provide support to those people, organisms and areas that are most vulnerable. Working on water sustainability is working on the sustainability of all living things on this planet. What can be more motivating?”

2020 IWA Young Leadership Award

Renowned scientist and engineer Dr Siddhartha Roy has won the IWA Young Leadership Award (2020/22). Dr Roy acted as an industry ambassador for the IWA and the water sector in general for a two-year term. Currently Dr Roy works as an environmental engineer and postdoctoral research scientist at Virginia Tech, USA. He has conducted a range of research, primarily focused on disadvantaged communities. His most significant work in recent years has centred on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where he helped to uncover high levels of waterborne lead poisoning.

Dr. Roy’s work in raising awareness of the Flint water crisis, as co-leader of the Flint Water Study team, ultimately led to President Obama declaring a public health emergency. He has been featured on a range of leading media outlets, including the BBC, New York Times and Chicago Tribune, and has also countered misleading and bad science around Flint’s water quality in the past several years. Dr. Roy also participated in the PBS documentary ‘Poisoned Water’. He has been recognised unanimously by the IWA Young Leadership Award Committee, who noted how strong the field of nominees had been, as well as congratulating Dr. Roy. Read more about his nomination. During a plenary session at the Digital World Water Congress (click here to watch the IWA Young Leadership Award announcement), Dr Roy commented: “Fundamentally, this prize recognises scientific and humanitarian work by the Virginia Tech US Water Study Team with underserved communities like Flint, Michigan and others, to uncover unsafe water and environmental injustice.”

2018 IWA Young Leadership Award

Jacob Kwasi Amengor is the winner of the IWA Young Leadership Award 2018. As Assistant Water Quality Officer at Ghana Water, Jacob Amengor combines academic, professional and personal achievements to emerge as the most exemplary role model of his generation, a promising individual motivated to empower young water professionals within and beyond Africa.

Professionally he is an Assistant Water Quality Assurance Officer, where he is responsible for the water quality operations at Kpeve Headworks. In 2015, Jacob brought a group of young people together to start the Water Satellite Programme with the objective of sensitizing people on best practices in water and sanitation. As a result of his continuous passion in the Water Sector, he was selected as a Young Water Fellow by the Young Water Solutions and he has been equipped with both technical skills and funding to help accelerate access to clean water and sanitation in rural communities with an entrepreneurial approach.

Jacob served as the first General Secretary of the Water and Sanitation Students’ Association of Ghana. He has also been instrumental in forming the IWA Young Water Professional Chapter in Ghana and voluntarily serves as its Co-Chair. Jacob volunteers as a content creator for Siro 360 (media website), where he writes articles on environmental sustainability. He loves to mentor, inspire and motivate young people to find solutions to challenges existing in the water sector because he believes that the successful realization of the Sustainable Development Goals depends on the abilities of young people.

Jacob has secured a land as a first step of achieving his vision of setting up a water research and management institute that will focus on carrying out research studies, training young professionals on varied areas within the water sector, organizing professional development courses and engaging industries and policy makers to implement the outcomes of research studies for the sustainable development of the water and sanitation sector in Africa. Ultimately, Jacob wants to see an Africa, where access to clean water and sanitation is no longer a reserve for the privileged few; rather, a human right realised for all regardless of place, class and status.

IWA Young Professionals Awardees

2018 Jacob Kwasi Amengor, Ghana

2016 Rianna Gonzales, Trinidad and Tobago

2014 ▩ Inga Jacobs, South Africa

2012 ▩ Norhayati Binti Abdullah, Malaysia

2010 ▩ Rita Henderson, Australia

2008 Enrique Cabrera, Spain

2006 ▩ How Yong Ng, Singapore

2004 ▩ Till Merkel, Germany

2002 ▩ Daniel Deere, Australia

2001 ▩ Lin Wang, China

2000 ▩ Matthias Maier, Germany

1999 ▩ Urs von Gutten, Switzerland


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