Building peace in the minds of men and women

Second International Conference on Water, Megacities and Global Change

High-level and keynote speakers

The conference opening and closing ceremonies will bring together high-level speakers to present the themes and stakes of the conference, translate them into broader topics to provide a holistic and trans-disciplinary approach and then to take stock and set priorities for the coming years.

Biographies of the main panelists

Audrey Azoulay

[Opening ceremony - 11 January - 10:30]

Director-General of UNESCO since 2017, Audrey Azoulay launched a vast Strategic Transformation programme for the Organization with a view to position UNESCO at the heart of emerging challenges in the XXI century. In this spirit, the Director-General launched several major projects on the protection of cultural heritage (through the initiative “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” in Iraq), on the achievement of universal quality education (in particular for girls and women), as well as on UNESCO's role as a global laboratory of ideas (on artificial intelligence and its ethical implications). A former student of the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, Audrey Azoulay is a graduate of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris and holds a Diploma of Business Administration from the University of Lancaster (United Kingdom). Active in the cultural sector from the outset of her career, she worked, among other things, on the financing of the French public audiovisual sector and on the reform and modernisation of the French public aid systems for the film industry. As the French Minister of Culture, she was very strongly committed to the protection of endangered heritage, particularly in the Middle East. She was also dedicated to the facilitation of children’s access to culture by launching artistic and cultural education programmes (the "Création en cours" programmes and innovative cultural infrastructures "Microfolies"). Audrey Azoulay is committed to positioning UNESCO as a platform for humanist cooperation, as a standards-producing arena and as an agency of experts that helps to disseminate knowledge and know-how throughout the world to the greatest number of people."


Mami Mizutori

[Opening ceremony - 11 January - 10:30]

Mami Mizutori is the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction, and head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, based in Geneva, Switzerland. The role of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction is to support countries and stakeholders in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). The Special Representative ensures the strategic and operational coherence between disaster risk reduction, climate change and sustainable development agendas as well as the linkage with the UN Secretary General’s prevention agenda and with humanitarian action. Ms. Mizutori served for twenty-seven years in various capacities in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to joining the UN, Ms. Mizutori was Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia, UK, since 2011. Ms. Mizutori graduated in law from Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo and obtained a Diploma in International Studies from the Diplomatic School of Spain. A Japanese national, Ms. Mizutori speaks Japanese, English and Spanish.


Patrick Ollier

[Opening ceremony - 11 January - 10:30]

Functions : President of the Greater Paris MetropolisPresident of the Etablissement Public Seine Grands Lacs, Deputy of Hauts-de-Seine, Mayor (Les Républicains) of Rueil-Malmaison (Hauts-de-Seine), Member of the political bureau "Les Républicains", Former Minister to the Prime Minister, in charge of Relations with Parliament, Former Administrator of the Institute of Political Studies of Aix-en-Provence, Former President of the National Assembly, Former President of the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, Former deputy (RPR) of Hautes-Alpes, Former Mayor (RPR) of La Salle-les-Alpes, Former departemental councillor (RPR) of Hautes-Alpes, canton of Monêtier-les-Bains, Former deputy (UMP) for Hauts-de-Seine. Education: Degree in economics. Graduate degree in sociology. Former student of the Institut d'études politiques de Paris. Decorations: Knight of the National Order of Merit and Agricultural Merit. Bronze medal of youth and sports. Distinctions: "Marianne d'or" (2002) (prize list "1st deputy mayor"). Publication : "Le Gaullisme: éléments d'une anti-doctrine" (The Gaullism: elements of an anti-doctrine)


Bérangère Abba

[Opening ceremony - 11 January - 10:30]

Berangère Abba is the French Secretary of State for Biodiversity. On the 2nd of October, she was elected Vice-President of the United Nations Environment Assembly. In 2017,  she was elected representative for the Haute-Marne first constituency. During her parliamentary mandate, she was also elected Secretary of the National Assembly and chaired the study group « National parks, Regional parks and Protected areas » from 2019 to 2020. In 2018, she was a rapporteur on the mobility orientation bill for the infrastructure programming component. In 2020, she was appointed to the law committee as a rapporteur on environmental justice. From 2014 to 2017, Bérangère Abba was city council member for the town of Chaumont. Bérangère Abba has a degree in cultural mediation.


Felicia Marcus

[Opening ceremony - 11 January - 10:30]

Felicia Marcus has served in positions in government, the non-profit world, and the private sector. She is currently the Landreth Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Water in the West Program and a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. She is also a founding member of the Water Policy Group, an international network of former and current high level water officials dedicated to assisting developing nations. Felicia was most recently Chair of the California State Water Resources Control Board during the state’s worst drought in modern history. She previously served as Regional Administrator of the U.S. EPA Region IX and as head of the Los Angeles Department of Public Works in addition to leadership in national non-governmental organizations. She has a JD from NYU School of Law, an AB cum laude in East Asian Studies from Harvard College, and attended Hong Kong University.


Leo Heller

[Opening ceremony - 11 January - 10:30]

Second Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation (2014-2020), Researcher in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil. Previously, Professor of the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil from 1990 to 2014, where he held several positions including Associate Provost of Graduate Studies and Dean of the School of Engineering. He is autor of several books, book chapters and journal articles on technological, health and policy dimensions of water and sanitation, including, the forthcoming book on "The Human Rights to Water and Sanitation", to be published by Cambridge University Press. Heller holds a BA in civil engineering, MSc in water, sanitation and the environment and PhD in Epidemiology, with a thesis on the association between water and sanitation and health outcomes. He also carried out post-doctoral research at the University of Oxford (2005-2006). 


Jun Xia

[Opening ceremony - 11 January - 10:30]

Prof. Jun Xia is an Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and Chair Professor & Director, The Research Institute for Water Security (RIWS), Wuhan University. He has ample experiences on hydrology, water resources management in China and international since 1987, particular on hydrological process modelling and integrated water system methodology applied to water management of both urban and river basin to changing environment. He severed as the President of International Water Resources Association (IWRA, 2009-2012), Board Governor of World Water Council (WWC, 2009-2015), Co-Chair, InterAcademy Council for Water Programme (2004-2010), Bureau Member of International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG, 2019-2023), and Board member of Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) for UNESCO-IHP, Ecohydrology Programme etc. He was awarded “International Hydrological Prize -Volker Medal”, given jointly by IAHS, UNESCO and WMO in 2014, the 2017’s State Natural Science Award in China and 2019’s IUGG Elected Fellow. 


Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi

[Opening ceremony - 11 January - 10:30]

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi is the Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) since 2007. He has been the Chairperson of the Cities Alliance Interim Management Board till April 2016. He is also Co-Chair of World Cities Scientific Development Alliance-WCSDA, and Deputy Secretary General of the China-Africa forum of local governments. Mr. Elong Mbassi is the man behind the Africities Summit, the largest event of cities, regions and local communities in Africa, where he oversees the organization since the first edition in 1998. Mr Elong Mbassi has a rich experience of nearly 40 years in the field of urban development and planning, urban services, local economic development, local governance, housing and of slum upgrading. From 1996 to 1999 he was the first Secretary General of the World Association of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination-WACLAC at the same time he held the position of Secretary General of the Municipal Development Partnership, MDP from 1992 to 2006. Previously, from 1981 to 1991, Mr. Elong Mbassi was the director of the first urban project financed by the World Bank in Cameroon and which focused on the restructuring and development of a slums area of 300,000 inhabitants in the city Douala. Mr. Elong Mbassi began his career in Paris, France where he was responsible for research and project manager at the Agency of Cooperation and Planning ('Agence Coopération et Aménagement ) from 1973 to 1980.


Florence Habets

[Opening ceremony - 11 January - 10:30]

Florence Habets is Senior Scientist at the CNRS in hydroclimatology as well as adjunct professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Paris, responsible for the Master of Geosciences. She is President of the scientific council of the Seine Normandy water agency, member of the scientific council of the French Biodiversity Office (OFB) and member of two French regional groups on climate change. She is PI of a project on the seasonal forecasting of groundwater, and is part of the French exploratory project (PEPR) OneWater which aims to develop a broad and shared vision of water as a common good.



Daniel Marcovitch

[Opening ceremony - 11 January - 10:30]

Current President of ARCEAU-IdF. A general practitioner for more than 30 years, he was elected to the Paris City Council in 1990 and will remain so until 2014. During his years at City Hall, he was passionate about all aspects of water issues: President of the Paris Water Laboratory (CRECEP), Vice President of Eau de Paris, 1st Vice President of the EPTB Seine-Grands Lacs, Vice President of SIAAP in charge of decentralized cooperation. Became deputy for Paris in 1997, secretary of the study group on water, rapporteur of the 2002 Water Law. Member of the Water Academy. 1st vice-president of the National Water Committee and of ONEMA. Member of the Seine Normandy Basin Committee since 2001, President of the Ile de France Territorial Rivers Commission. Board Member of the Paris Water Observatory and Administrator of the French Association for the Prevention of Natural Disasters.


Youth Declaration

by Federick Pinongcos and Paulina Marcela Ramírez Quevedo – Representatives of the Youth Steering Committee

[Closing ceremony - 14 January - 11:00]

The EauMega Youth Steering Committee (YSC) brings together youth representatives from all six regions recognized by UNESCO for matters concerning youth for the EauMega Conference. It consists of a group of 14 members from diverse professional and academic backgrounds related to water management and that are allied with water networks across the globe. Their objective is to propose, organize, coordinate and implement various activities and events during the EauMega Conference that are specifically envisioned to propitiate and ensure youth engagement and to work on the Youth Declaration based on the experience of Water Networks focused on young people and that from the YSC members. They work for the YSC on a voluntary basis and give inputs from their knowledge and experience, while also trying to find mentors and connect with stakeholders from the water sector worldwide. 



Jean-Claude Deutsch

[Closing ceremony - 14 January - 11:00]

Jean-Claude Deutsch is the President of the conference's Steering Committee. "I came, I saw, I lived. I was born on October 18, 1944 in Paris of parents who emigrated from Austria in 1923. In my childhood, I read a lot and in particular Science-Fiction, which gave me a particular attraction for Science and Technique. After graduating as a chemical engineer, and having been made aware of pollution problems during the French events of May 1968, I spent my entire career in the Paris region in the field of urban hydrology. I have followed the "cursus honorum" in different institutions, all public, and ended up as director of a doctoral school: City and Environment. A fervent supporter of collective action, I also helped to create two associations of professionals: Eurydice and Arceau-IdF." 


S.E. Blanca Jiménez Cisneros

[Closing ceremony - 14 January - 11:00]

Ambassador of Mexico to France, Mrs Jiménez Cisneros has a rich experience in environmental engineering, water management, climate change and scientific diplomacy acquired within the Mexican government (former Director General of the National Water Commission-CONAGUA) and multilateral organizations (former Director of the Division of Water Sciences and Head of the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme at UNESCO; member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-IGC). Researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the National Autonomous Metropolitan University of Mexico, she has also been a leader and consultant in numerous programmes and is a member of the editorial boards of several international publications.


Jean-Marie Mouchel

[Closing ceremony - 14 January - 11:00]

Jean-Marie Mouchel began his career at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Institute of Marine Biogeochemistry) and then joined the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in 1986. His main field of activity concerns the flows, transfers and transformation of contaminants in natural environments (estuaries, lakes, rivers and surface groundwater). Urban environments have been of particular interest to him as a source of contamination, and he has been interested in the management of wastewater and urban runoff and its impact on receiving environments. His work includes retrospective and prospective analyses on these issues. Since 2006, he has been developing these activities at Sorbonne University, where he currently heads the UMR 7619 Metis. He was scientific director of the PIREN-Seine programme from 2007 to 2015. In 2020, he co-founded the GIS Obepine dedicated to the monitoring of the SARS-CoV2 virus in wastewater. He has published more than a hundred scientific articles and book chapters, and supervised 17 PhD students.


Claudia Sheinbaum 

[Closing ceremony - 14 January - 11:00]

Claudia Sheinbaum is the first elected woman to lead the Mexico City government. She has a degree in Physics and a PhD in Energy Engineering both from the Faculty National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She completed a 4-year academic stay for her doctoral research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, associated with the University of California at Berkeley. Researcher and graduate professor. Member of the National System of Researchers and the Mexican Academy of Sciences. She was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that in 2007 won the Nobel Peace Prize. She has been part of Editorial Boards of different scientific journals and has been awarded different prizes on innovation and development. She was an advisor to the Federal Electricity Commission in the Department of Economic Studies and the National Commission for Energy Saving; World Bank and United Nations Development Program consultant. She was a member of the United Nations Commission for Development Policies. She is the author of more than 100 specialized publications and two books on the topics of energy, environment and sustainable development. She was Mexico City’s Secretary of the Environment in 2000. She served as Delegation Chief in Tlalpan from 2015 to 2017. Currently, she is Chief of Government of Mexico City for the 2018-2024 period leading a government program with the slogan “innovation and rights”: making best use of science and technology for advancing people’s social, economic and human rights.