November 19, 2020 Membership

IWA Podcast: Meet the finalists of the 2020 IWA Young Leadership Award

The IWA Young Leadership Award is granted every two years to an exceptional water professional age 35 or younger who has demonstrated significant achievements in his/her career and contributes to the IWA community. The awardee has demonstrated outstanding leadership and has taken an influential role in the water industry.

IWA recognises and celebrates its membership, exceptional water professionals who contribute to build our water future and set the agenda for our water world. The 2020 call for nominations for the IWA Young Leadership Awards, has brought sixty-eight impressive young individuals from all around the globe into the spotlight who dedicate their energy working in the sector and with their deep creativity and passion for their work, they have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in and for the sector. The 2020 IWA YLA Nominations Committee stated that the election of the IWA Young Leadership Award finalist hasn’t been an easy task.

Today, we celebrate the runners-up in this 2020 edition of the Award. The four finalists are outstanding Young Water Professionals, who have been recognised by their contributions to the sector and the YWP community:  Antonella Vagilente, Yang Villa, Dr.Siddhartha Roy, and Arun Krishnamurthy.

Antonella Vagilente is the Director General and co-Founder of Young Water Solutions in Belgium. YWS is an international NPO, which has been committed to support the world’s emerging water health and sanitation [WASH] professionals. Antonella has also designed and is a mentor for Young Water Fellows, through which she helps to improve youth employment, address gender equality and food security. By combining her networking and communication skills, she has brought young people together with mentors, funders, and investors. She has been continuously putting her inspiring visions to action.

Yang Villa is Head of Philippines at Isle Utilities aiming to advance environmental technology and innovations. He has shown tremendous initiative to start various programs, bringing together practitioners and leaders to further his cause and work towards his vision. Moreover, he worked to jumpstart the local network for Philippine Young Water Professionals. Yang ensures that this group incorporates and works with a holistic view of the water sector. Yang is a peerless and visionary role model in the Philippine water sector, and his advocacy for youth empowerment extends far beyond the industry.

Siddhartha Roy, Ph.D. is an Environmental Engineer and Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Virginia Tech in the USA. He works on the nexus of drinking water, public health and environmental justice. Siddhartha has brought his vision and action not only to people affected by poor quality water but also to water professionals and decision makers. He has been involved in and leading student response teams to deal with lead contaminated tap water in several places in the U.S. With his drive and dedication to the cause, he has taken personal risks, and challenged bad science and misinformation. Roy is a great communicator and has inspired young people and professionals through public talks, workshops, podcasts and scientific papers.

Arun Krishnamurthy is the Founder of The Environmentalist Foundation of India (E.F.I), a wildlife conservation and habitat restoration group. Over the last 13 years across 14 states in India, the foundation successfully cleaned and restored 108 lakes and ponds. Arun has been recognised as a true entrepreneur, has achieved impressive results in India, and has proven to be a tremendous motivator who gets the restoration works done. Through the Indian based Environmental Film Association (E.F.A), a dedicated nature communication agency, Arun has scripted, shot and directed 14 different nature documentaries.


In this IWA podcast, Kasia Deregowska, IWA Leadership Engagement Officer, talks with the four IWA Young Leadership Award second round finalists, on their personal experience of working in the industry, points of view of the water sector and about the motor that drives them to do what they do.

Listen to the inspiring words of our outstanding IWA Young Water Professionals proving excellence for the water sector with a drive for a water-wise world.