Water insecurity is increasingly a cause of social and political instability threatening peace and security at all levels. The Geneva Water Hub aims at better understanding and preventing water-related tensions between competing uses, between public and private actors, and between political entities and countries. The Geneva Water Hub is Centre of the University of Geneva, as well as a joint project with the Swiss Confederation (Agency for Development and Cooperation, Global Programme Water Division).
- Vision and Mission
Sustainable water resources management is a major global challenge of the 21st century. In its 2015 Global Risks report, the World Economic Forum ranked water crises as the highest global risk. Water is essential for public health, food security, energy, and ecosystem services. This vital resource is facing unprecedented challenges, and is more and more linked to insecurity at local, regional and global scale; this is illustrated by growing tensions around large dams, mining operations and various disputes over land and water.
However, despite the complexity of the challenges, water can become a theme for collaboration and can be transformed from a source of potential crisis into an instrument of peace. It is with this positive vision that the Geneva Water Hub was established to help prevent water conflicts at an early stage and to promote water as an instrument of peace and cooperation.
Prof Marc Zeitoun
Prof Mark Zeitoun has led on multiple research and water supply projects, and supported water negotiations throughout the Middle East and Africa. His research focuses on international transboundary water conflict and cooperation, the influence of armed conflict on water services, and the links between water and health. He is a Professor of Water Security at the University of East Anglia’s School of International Development and has consulted for a wide range of humanitarian and development organizations. He studied engineering at McGill University in Montréal and human geography at King’s College London. He is author of “Power and Water: the Hidden Politics of the Palestinian-Israeli Water Conflict” (IB Tauris 2008, Water Conflicts: Analysis for Transformation (OUP 2020, with Naho Mirumachi and Jeroen Warner), and “Understanding Water: Reflections on our use and abuse of the world’s most precious resource” (OUP 2022).
Prof Christian Bréthaut
Prof Christian Bréthaut holds a PhD in Geosciences and Environment from the University of Lausanne. He leads the Geneva Water Hub’s Education and Knowledge component since August 2014. His area of expertise is the analysis of water policies and the issues associated with the management of cross border rivers. Prof Bréthaut’s particular focus within the domain of water management is the capacity of institutions to adapt, the water-food-energy-ecosystems Nexus and the exploration of the link between science and policy. Access full biography on the dedicated University of Geneva webpage.
Dr Caroline Pellaton
Corporate Operations Manager
Caroline Pellaton holds a PhD in Earth Sciences from the University of Geneva. She joined the Geneva Water Hub in June 2018 as Corporate Operations Administrator. Her work consists of managing administrative issues as well as monitoring the achievements and implementation of the objectives and contributing to some operational activities. She is also in charge of the fundraising activities and donor relations. Over the last ten years, she worked as a country level water program manager in emergencies and post conflict environments in various contexts such as Sri Lanka, Niger, Republic of South Sudan, Central African Republic, Yemen and Jordan.
Advisor, former Director General
François Münger holds Masters degrees in mineralogy and geophysics (Univ. of Lausanne), hydrology (Univ. of Neuchâtel), and environmental engineering (EPFL). His experience spans across a range of different private and public institutions in Switzerland, Africa, Latin America, Central Asia and East Europe. He notably was the Chief of the Central America Water Programme for the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC) and Senior Water Specialist at the World Bank. After heading SDC’s Global Water Program for the past eight years, François was awarded the title of Swiss Special Envoy for Water and given responsibility for the creation and development of the Geneva Water Hub.
Dr Danilo Türk
Lead Political Advisor
Danilo Türk is a Slovenian diplomat, professor of international law, human rights expert, and political figure who served as President of Slovenia from 2007 to 2012. He was the first Slovene ambassador to the United Nations, from 1992 to 2000, and was the UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs from 2000 to 2005. He is a visiting professor of international law at Columbia University in New York City, a professor emeritus at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana, and non-resident senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing. He is the founder of the Danilo Türk Foundation, devoted mostly to the rehabilitation of child victims of armed conflict. He was also Chair of the Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace between 2015 and 2017.
Prof Laurence Boisson de Chazournes
Research and Education Function, Full Professor
Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva since 1999, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes is also Visiting Professor at Aix-Marseille University, Paris I and Paris II Universities as well as the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva). She is the Director of the Geneva LL.M. in International Dispute Settlement (MIDS) and co-Director of the Geneva Center for International Dispute Settlement (CIDS). She is an Associate Member of the Institute of International Law (IDI). Laurence Boisson de Chazournes is an arbitrator and has acted as counsel before the International Court of Justice as well as in other international fora and has been involved in numerous negotiations regarding international watercourses. She was a member of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace between 2015 and 2017. Her publications can be accessed here.
Prof Géraldine Pflieger
Research and Education Function, Associate Professor
Géraldine Pflieger is Associate Professor in urban and environmental policies at the University of Geneva (Department of political science and international relations and Institute for Environmental Sciences) and the Director of the Hub on environmental governance and territorial development (GEDT). She holds together with Christian Bréthaut the UNESCO Chair in Hydropolitics at the University of Geneva. She is the Director of the Institute for environmental sciences. Her current research is centered on the regulation of shared natural resources (mainly water and land) – at the international, regional and local levels – as well as the transformation of the governance of urban spaces in the face of the major contemporary infrastructural and environmental challenges (for example the links between transport and land-use or between urbanization and resource consumption).
Lead Water Specialist
Natasha Carmi, an engineer by education, holds a Master’s Degree in Hydrology for Environmental Management. She joined the Geneva Water Hub in March 2018 and contibutes to the establishment of the Global Water Observatory on Water and Peace, as well as the development of the women, water and peace agenda. Prior to that, she worked as water policy advisor to the Palestinian Negotiations Support Project, working closely with decision makers, and has experience in bilateral and regional water negotiations. She is used to working in highly sensitive and timely political environments. She worked with water resources and environmental challenges in the Middle East for the past 20 years. She serves frequently as a faculty member for conferences and workshops dealing with transboundary water resources in general, and hydropolitics in particular, at which water is a core political issue and international water law is a necessary framework for resolving conflicts and identifying opportunities and solutions.
Dr Fatine Ezbakhe
Senior Scientific Officer
Fatine Ezbakhe is a water engineer by training, with a PhD in Civil Engineering and a career in applied research and education for sustainable development. She has worked in academia and industry, both as a researcher and a project manager. She joined the Geneva Water Hub in September 2019, and has been conducting research, education, and capacity-building activities on water governance and water politics. She co-directs the Geneva Water Hub's flagship Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in "Water Governance: Frameworks and Negotiations" and its yearly Summer School. She coordinates the multi-partner research initiative on "Monitoring for International Hydropolitical Tensions", and develops tailor-made training on water, such as the Training of Trainers on Water Diplomacy in Central Asia, and the E-learning Course on Water Diplomacy in Peacebuilding. Access her full biography on the dedicated University of Geneva webpage.
Lead Diplomatic and International Relationship Specialist
Noura holds a Master’s Degree in International and European Law, and a Bachelor Degree in International Relations. She joined the Geneva Water Hub in 2021 to reinforce the diplomatic relations and the advocacy dynamism of the Geneva Water Hub, in Geneva, New-York, and other multilateral centers. She also maintains contacts with members of the Group of Friends on Water and Peace in Geneva. Prior to joining the Geneva Water Hub, she worked for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland for several years, inter alia as deputy coordinator for the OSCE section and as programme manager for the global programme water division.
Tadesse Kebebew is a researcher at the Platform for International Water Law of the Geneva Water Hub. He develops the follow up activities related to the Geneva List of Principles on the Protection of Water Infrastructure, focusing on the status of water in military manuals, a monitoring mechanism and the topic of accountability. He holds a PhD in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. He previously served as a Research and Technology Interchange Director at Dire Dawa University in Ethiopia. He was also a Lecturer in Law at the Dire Dawa University College of Law from 2011 to 2015 and provided trainings for professionals, including judges and prosecutors in conflict affected areas such as the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia.
Stéphane Kluser holds a Masters degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Geneva with a specialization in geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing. He is responsible for the Geneva Water Hub’s communications as well as information management. His work includes the creation of monthly water maps, content management for the online platform and handling the Hub’s presence on social media networks. Access full biography on the dedicated University of Geneva webpage.
Project Assistant and Analyst
Ms. Monica Nuñez holds university degrees in Law and in Political Sciences (University of Lima – Peru), a masters degree in European and Economic Law (University of Lausanne) and a second one in Business Law (University of Geneva) as well as a Diploma in International Environmental Law (United Nations Institute for Training and Research-UNITAR). She has since complemented her legal studies with several courses on conception and development of online training projects (University of Geneva, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences). Before joining the Geneva Water Hub, she worked for UNITAR where she was in charge of developing, managing and implementing online and face-to-face capacity building projects in the field of International Law, in particular in International Environmental Law.
Quentin Parent holds a Bachelor's degree in Private Law from the University of Nice (France) and a Master's degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Geneva (Switzerland). He has conducted his Master's thesis on water securitization in the Sahel region. He joins the Geneva Water Hub team for a 6-month internship. His mission is to contribute to the line of action on the Sahel, as well as to support activities related to the Summer School in Water Governance.
Senior Project Manager
Léna graduated from the Sorbonne University in Paris as a lawyer in international public law. She specialized in water diplomacy and mediation at a Harvard-MIT-Tufts joint programme and MWI, Boston, respectively. She served in the United Nations’ system for 17 years as the strategic and operational coordinator of its programme on water conflict and cooperation. Sensibilisation to cooperative water management has been a major focus of her career: she conceived around a 100 training courses and capacity building activities on international law, conflict management, confidence building and cooperation processes. Her audiences encompass young, mid and high-level professionals, executive officers, as well as media professionals, decision-makers and the civil society from all continents. She also lectured in over 200 international events around the world.
Mercator Fellowship Programme on International Affairs recipient
As a Mercator Fellow, Erik Schnetzler works on his individual project called Vision “Blue Peace”: Steps to Mitigate Water-Related Conflicts in Times of Climate Change. He focuses primarily in his individual study on the Blue Peace Initiative and its approaches and transferability to regions of the world where the mechanisms of water diplomacy are not yet as widespread. Within the team, he supports the policy and advocacy team, including the process leading to the UN 2023 Conference. Before the Mercator Fellowship, Erik worked at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi and also gained work experience at the Swiss Embassy in Lima, and the German-Peruvian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. He holds an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA in History and Classics from the University of Basel.
Dr Mara Tignino
Lead International Water Law Specialist
Dr Tignino is a Reader at the Faculty of Law and Coordinator of the Platform for International Water Law. She holds a PhD in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies of Geneva and has been a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University School of Law in Washington DC. She is the author of the monographs "Water During and After Armed Conflicts: What Protection in International Law?" (Brill, 2016) et “L’eau et la guerre. Éléments pour un régime juridique” (Bruylant, 2011) and co-editor of the books “Public Participation and Water Resources Management: Where Do We Stand in International Law?" (UNESCO-IHP, 2015) and the “Research Collection on International Water Law” (Edward Elgar, 2015). In 2017, she won the prize "Women Peacebuilders for Water" from "Fondazione Milano per Expo" for her research in international water law and her dedication to the creation of new generations of international lawyers. Access full biography on the dedicated University of Geneva webpage.
Dr Sumit Vij
Senior Scientific Officer
Sumit has his research interests in the thematic areas of transboundary water politics, climate change and disaster governance and (peri) urban development. He holds a PhD from the Wageningen University and Research (the Netherlands) where his research focused on the role of power in water and climate change adaptation policy-making processes in South Asia, studying power interplay between policy actors based on theoretical grounding in political science and international relations. He has published scientific articles on water and climate change policy issues in various international journals. During his Postdoctoral Research stint at VU Amsterdam and Wageningen University, he has been involved in teaching four courses, and was responsible for the designing, supervision of tutorials, lecturing, and marking exams. Between 2019-2021, Sumit has taken up the role of a contributing author in the sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and provided inputs for the upcoming Water Policy of India (2022).
Senior Programme Manager
Jean Willemin holds a Master's degree in Sociology and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Water Policy and Management from the University of Geneva. Before joining the Geneva Water Hub, he worked in the field of human rights, both for international organisations and NGOs with an increasing engagement on water governance issues since 2014. Furthermore, he is specialised in facilitation methods that he performs in the frame of mandates for international organisations, NGOs and public administrations. At the Geneva Water Hub, Jean contributes to the development and implementation of the global agenda and is in charge of organising roundtable sessions on current water governance challenges.
- The Blue Peace Movement
Blue Peace is a global movement that highlights initiatives on water, peace, security and cooperation. The Movement gathers numerous actions undertaken by different actors (academia, culture, political and diplomatic actions, civil society and the private sector) and at different levels (from local to global).The Blue Peace Movement is an initiative supported by Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs.
House of Switzerland video on Blue Peace:
Blue Peace Movement in action at the 2018 World Water Forum between 18 and 23 March in Brasília: