New IWA Young Water Professionals Chapter in Italy

In the years ahead, sustainability will be even more fundamental in the water sector, especially considering the ecological approach widely supported in the NextGenEU plan. In this context, a new YWP Chapter has been recently established in Italy to bring together the broad technological know-how of Italian YWPs to efficiently tackle the pressing issues posed by society and climate change (e.g. population growth, water shortages).

The YWP Italy Chapter (YWPIT), open to all water professionals below 35-year-old, will be a unique opportunity to bring young water enthusiasts from different fields together within IWA. Matia Mainardis, Assistant Professor at Università degli Studi di Udine (Italy) and Chair of the YWPIT, presents some key points about the chapter.

Q: What was the motivation for setting up an IWA YWP Chapter in Italy?

MM: The primary motivation to form the International Water Association (IWA) Young Water Professional Chapter (YWPIT) in Italy was to bridge the gap between senior and young water professionals (YWPs), as well as between academia and industry, leading to real empowerment of YWPs in Italy.

The creation of the YWPIT group will help YWPs contribute to Italy’s decision-making in the water and sustainability agenda and establish new connections among members and with external stakeholders, including other YWP groups, universities, and industries operating in the water sector. These newly formed partnerships may lead to knowledge exchange, formal/informal collaborations, participation in funding programmes, and more.

Q: How will the chapter contribute to the empowerment of YWPs to contribute to the national water agenda of Italy?

MM: YWPIT chapter will lead to the professional development of YWPs by establishing robust connections between young and senior water professionals, belonging both to the academic and the industrial sectors and between YWPIT members. The possibility for emerging water leaders to gain visibility and participate in decision-making will be a crucial point, significantly empowering Italian YWPs and overcoming the bridge between academia and industry.

The newly founded YWPIT chapter will perfectly fit the IWA strategic plan 2019-24, aimed at wise, sustainable, and equal water management worldwide by proposing tailored activities and events. Moreover, the YWPIT chapter will deeply collaborate with the Italian Governing Member (GM), UTILITALIA, to diffuse the best practices and innovations in the water sector to all interested stakeholders by participating in joint venture events and activities with the IWA partnership. Communication on social media about all the proposed activities will be crucial for the YWPIT group, potentially reaching a vast audience, including specialised and non-specialised people.

Q: What are your aims and objectives for your chapter, and what activities do you plan to do?

MM: The main aims and objectives of the YWPIT chapter are to develop human capital in the Italian water sector by empowering YWPs as well as develop an interdisciplinary network with young participants from different water-related areas (e.g., hydrology, hydraulics, sewer management, drinking water, wastewater, biowaste). As an IWA Community, we plan to promote IWA initiatives and programmes, and encourage active participation among group members. We aim at fostering a culture of open, supportive, and respectful knowledge exchange and promoting engagement between young academics and water-related companies and facilitate the career development of YWPs. To widen international cooperation, we also plan to collaborate with other IWA YWP country chapters.

The YWPIT will organise several activities, including virtual workshop(s), in-person/virtual meetings with other YWP groups, and dedicated mentoring activities. As a YWP Chapter we also plan to create an official flyer to increase group’s visibility and a databases to collect members’ expertise and need for professional development. You can connect with us on our social media pages: LinkedIn, IWA Connect.


Meet the founding members!


Matia Mainardis, Chair

Matia is currently Assistant Professor at Università degli studi di Udine (Italy), where he previously obtained in 2019 his Ph.D. in Environmental and Energy Engineering Sciences (industrial Ph.D. programme). His research and teaching activities mainly focus on water, energy and resource recovery from waste and wastewater streams, with experimental and modelling activities. He is particularly devoted to international partnerships and collaborations, and he has been an IWA member since 2017.


Beatrice Cantoni, Vice Chair

Beatrice is a postdoctoral researcher at Politecnico di Milano (Italy), where she obtained in 2021 her PhD in Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering. Her research focuses on risk-based approaches to manage contaminants of emerging concern in drinking water. She has the chance to work in multidisciplinary teams with experts from international water utilities, universities and research centres. She is also involved in dissemination projects to incentivise society towards sustainable drinking water consumption.


Michele Ponzelli, Secretary

Michele is pursuing a European joint doctorate at the Catalan Institute for Water Research (Spain) and the Technical University of Munich (Germany). Since 2016 he has been exploring strategies to optimise biological treatment systems for resource recovery and the removal of organic micropollutants. He also enjoys developing SciComm skills to make his research understood by non-experts.


Marco Gabrielli, Technical Training Coordinator

Marco is currently a Ph.D. student at Politecnico di Milano (Italy). While having experiences in modelling the fate of contaminants of emerging concern in agricultural water reuse scenarios, his current research focuses on the microbiological quality of drinking water with special attention on the dynamics occurring in water distribution systems.



Claudia Cascone, Innovation Coordinator

Claudia is working at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute (Stockholm) in Swedish and international research and development projects, focusing mainly on processing and modelling sensor data from raw water and drinking water production. She received her PhD in Environmental assessment with a specialisation in environmental chemistry in 2021 at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU, Uppsala). She enjoys developing Python open-source toolboxes for non-programmers, and her personal goal is to work in projects with Italy and developing countries to improve water quality.


Francesco Di Capua, Communication Officer

Francesco is currently Assistant Professor at Politecnico di Bari (Italy), where he teaches Sanitary Engineering to bachelor students. His research interests cover the areas of nutrient removal and recovery, sewage sludge reduction and valorisation, biological desulfurisation, anaerobic digestion and biorefinery. He completed an Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate (ETeCoS3) awarded by three European universities in 2016 and has worked as a postdoctoral researcher for three years. He is editor of the journal Water Environment Research (Wiley).


Fabiano Asunis, Social Media Officer

Fabiano is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Università di Cagliari (Italy) and lecturer in Biological Reactors at Università di Oristano (Italy). His research interests span from wastewater treatment to biological production of biocommodities such as biofuels, biopolymers and biofertilisers using biowaste as a raw feedstock. He passionately believes that, in an increasingly fast-changing world, strengthening networks between professionals can advance knowledge in the water and wastewater sector.


Mattia Piva Intrieri, External Relations Coordinator

Mattia is a sales engineer currently working in the water sector. He supplies multi-utilities in Italy with automatic control valves, an indispensable product in the pressure management of our waterworks. He is very innovative and, with the support of his team, tries every day to use his knowledge to support the improvement of the management of one of the most important goods for mankind: water.


Erica Gagliano, Events Coordinator

Erica is currently Assistant Professor in Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at Università di Genova (Italy). Previously, she was a postdoctoral researcher at Università di Catania (Italy), where she obtained her PhD in 2021. Her research interests include the occurrence of contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) in natural and engineering water systems and their removal through advanced treatment techniques, the regeneration of activated carbon, the assessment of water-energy-food nexus (e.g., water management in precision agriculture and valorisation of agricultural waste), and water quality online monitoring through spectroscopic measurements.


Alberto Gambardella, Network Growth Coordinator

Alberto is currently a Freelance Hydraulic Engineer dealing with Water Networks. He graduated from Politecnico di Milano with a Master’s Degree in Environmental and Land Planning Engineering and did a Traineeship at the University of Santiago de Compostela. He is currently dealing with modelling of clean water network, design and optimisation of aqueducts collaborating with water utilities, consultancies and universities.


Matteo Trigatti, Treasurer

Matteo is a licensed engineer currently working with water and gas infrastructures for an Italian multiutility company. He obtained a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering at Università degli Studi di Udine. Matteo also achieved his Ph.D. in Environmental and Energy Engineering at the same University in 2017. He has an innovative approach to leadership and optimisation of design methods. Matteo is looking for international knowledge sharing on water related topics.

For more information on IWA’s Young Water Professionals programme and country chapters, please visit this page or contact