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Humanitarian Responses to Emerging Water Crises as a Result of Extreme Climatic Events

Join us on Friday, July 14, 2023 at 10 a.m. ET for a special event hosted by York University during the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development with a panel entitled, “Humanitarian responses to emerging water crises as a result of extreme climatic events.”

Extreme climatic events, including heatwaves, droughts, and storms, are increasing in frequency and intensity over the past few decades, with consequences for freshwater. Extreme climatic events have been associated with changes in freshwater availability and degradation of water quality, including elevated concentrations of nutrients, contaminants of emerging concern, and potential for algal blooms, some of which may be toxic. As humans and wildlife rely on freshwater for life, alterations in the freshwater supply in response to extreme climatic events can have catastrophic impacts, particularly during humanitarian crises.

Bringing together four renowned experts who work at the heart of humanitarian solutions through technology, engineering, global governance, and advocacy, this virtual panel aims to explore the humanitarian responses, challenges, and solutions to alleviating the freshwater crisis, particularly in the face of global environmental degradation and extreme climatic events.

Register for the panel.

Jessica Vandenberghe

Jessica P.Eng., FEC, FGC (Hon.) is born of the Dene Thá First Nation, is a sixties scoop survivor and raised in an inclusive German farming family in northern Alberta. Her exceptional career is based on two engineering degrees from the University of Alberta. She has worked in the oil sands, mining, regulatory, infrastructure, consulting industries and academia. She is the Assistant Dean, Community and Culture with the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Victoria. She is a mother of two and at the intersection of two equity deserving groups in the Engineering Profession, which drives her passion for equity, diversity and inclusion. Her lived experience allows her to contribute significantly to Truth and Reconciliation to build strong, healthy relationships with Indigenous Communities and to build safe, brave places where we can be our authentic selves. Her approach, knowledge, and expertise brings value in terms of healing, instilling ethical behaviour, introducing two-eyed seeing and integration of Indigenous ways, inclusive leadership practice, and setting organizations and institutions on a strategic path to ensure community is built.

Swanzeta “Swani” Keelson

Swani is a first-year doctoral student at the Johns Hopkins University Advanced International Studies - International Affairs Program under Professor Dr. Erwin Villiger. Swani’s doctoral research examines the relationship between water insecurity, global governance, and gender inclusivity.  Swani holds a Master’s in International Public Policy and a Master’s in Legal studies both from Johns Hopkins University. She is the founder of Global Water Promise—A US based international nonprofit working in development countries to bring water security, sanitation and hygiene to help end period poverty in vulnerable populations. Her research is supported by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. She can be contacted at:

Nicolas Jarraud

Nicolas is Senior Specialist, Engagement and Partnerships Development, at the Global Water Partnership (GWP). He was Assistant Vice President for Institute Affairs at the Cyprus Institute (CyI), an international research institute based in Cyprus, until 2022, where he was responsible for International Relations (and before that for solar energy projects). Dr. Jarraud has almost 15 years of environmental peacebuilding programme management experience (including over 10 years at the United Nations peacebuilding programme in Cyprus, UNDP-ACT) as well as a career in environmental research and the social sciences. He was involved in the creation of SeeD (The Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development), and SDSN Cyprus. He has a PhD in environmental science from Imperial College, London, as well as a Masters in Science Communication and a BSc in Biology from the same university. Nicolas has also had experience as a freelance journalist, for example contributing to the French news magazine “Le Point”.

Syed Imran Ali

Syed Imran is an experienced aid worker and engineering researcher who seeks ways to improve public health engineering in humanitarian response. He has worked as a water and sanitation specialist and led operational research with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors Without Borders) and UNHCR (the UN High Commissioner for Refugees) in South Sudan, Pakistan, Jordan, Rwanda, Uganda, and elsewhere. Dr. Ali has taught at the University of California-Berkeley, where he completed a postdoctoral fellowship, and holds a PhD in environmental engineering from the University of Guelph. Dr. Ali is a Fellow at the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research and Adjunct Professor in the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University. Dr. Ali is Founder and Lead of the Safe Water Optimization Tool Project (, a water quality data analytics platform that helps ensure drinking water safety during humanitarian emergencies.

water droplets

The UN Global Water Academy is a multi-stakeholder collaboration between the United Nations, academic institutions, and private sector partners, with York University (Canada) as Academic Lead. The three key pillars of the Global Water Academy will tackle diverse aspects of the water sustainability crisis, including training, research, and knowledge mobilization ultimately used to inform decision-making and public policy. The Global Water Academy will aspire to foster training and capacity development, empower community-based networks, weave traditional knowledge, and inspire innovation to co-create sustainable water solutions and ensure equitable access to water for all. By doing so, the Global Water Academy will empower policy and decision-makers, government officials, industry, and the communities most affected by water insecurity, with the knowledge, expertise, and capacity to ameliorate the water crisis.

Read more about the first-of-its-kind UN Global Water Academy at York University (YFile, March 2023)

Register below and join us on Friday, July 14, at 10 a.m. ET

This event is cosponsored by the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research; One WATER Research Centre; Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation, York University; United Nations Development Programme; and United Nations Institute for Training and Research.

Please email with any questions about this event.

***Thank you for attending our webinar. Please stay tuned for the launch of the UN Global Water Academy website in the coming months with more panels, training modules, and workshops to come. Watch the recording (1:30:46)***

The event is finished.


Friday, July 14, 2023


10:00 am - 11:30 am

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/Los_Angeles
  • Date: Friday, July 14, 2023
  • Time: 7:00 am - 8:30 am
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