Below is the esteemed list of speakers for the W12 Congress (Now postponed due to COVID-19)


The world first knew Arnold Schwarzenegger as a famous bodybuilder and a Hollywood action hero, and now as California’s 38th Governor, an environmental crusader, a successful businessman, and a generous philanthropist.

The 2008 California Draught

In 2008 California’s water crisis intensified as then Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, declared the first statewide drought in 17 years – setting the stage for drastic cutbacks and for diverting supplies from the relatively water-rich to the water-poor.

Schwarzenegger called for a 20 percent reduction in water use statewide and urged local agencies to bolster conservation programs and to work with federal and other authorities to help farmers who are suffering huge financial losses and abandoning crops in droves.

“There is no more time to waste because nothing is more vital to protect our economy, our environment and our quality of life,” Schwarzenegger said.

At W12 in Cape Town May 2019, Arnold Schwarzenegger will share his insights and experience in dealing with the California Water Crisis with delegates from the 12 cities that will face or are currently facing similar challenges with drought and water resource mismanagement.

CARLOS COSIN - CEO of Almar Water Solution

Carlos Cosín is the CEO of Almar Water Solutions and leads the strategic management and development to implement its vision and drive its success in the sector.

He is also recently been elected, President of the International Desalination Association (IDA). Through 20 years of experience in the industry, he has developed desalination, wastewater and reuse projects around the globe for both municipal and industrial sectors. During this time he has closed agreements under both EPC (Engineering-Procurement-Construction) and BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) models across five continents.

Some of his most significant achievements include the development of the first BOT model water project in West Africa and winning the Water Company of The Year award in 2015. Born in Madrid, Spain, Carlos Cosín graduated in Agricultural Engineering from the Madrid Polytechnic University). He was previously a member of the European Innovation Partnership on Water (EIP Water) Steering Group, between 2013 and 2016.

RASHAD SHAWA - Chairman of the Board of Directors, International Water Bank

Chairman of the Board of Directors, International Water Bank

Chairman of MAI (Switzerland) AG, Member of the World Water Council.

Former Executive Senior Banker, Executive Advisor, and Executive Board Member of Coutts & Co. Bank (Switzerland) AG, United Bank of Kuwait PLC (UK), Royal Trust Bank (Switzerland) AG, Dresdner Bank (Switzerland AG), Banque  Privee Edmond De Rothschild (Switzerland) AG, and M.M. Warburg & Co. (Switzerland) AG.

Former Member of Global Advisory Board of Babson College in Wellesley, MA, USA.

KARIN KRCHNAK - Program Manager 2030 Water Resources Group, World Bank

Program Manager 2030 Water Resources Group, World Bank

Ms. Krchnak was appointed Program Manager of the 2030 Water Resources Group (2030 WRG) at the beginning of January. In working to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal on Water, Ms. Krchnak leads 2030 WRG in creating the wider political economy conditions and momentum for change in water reform. Her focus is on building multi-stakeholder platforms to mobilize the private sector, government, civil society, bilateral agencies, and development banks to work collectively in accelerating progress towards national water security through the design and implementation of comprehensive set of policies, programs and projects in countries across the globe.


Sam Katiela was raised in Germany, where he studied Economics, Psychology & Media Sciences. He is considered a pioneer in international strategic communication & live marketing industry.

His unique & creative approach to developing strategic content effectively translates messaging through interactive technologies, smart experiences, branded content, different shows and community experiences that have been featured across the Middle East, Europe and in the entertainment capitals of Los Angeles, New York & Las Vegas.

Sam was commissioned to launch a number of sustainability-related projects, including Masdar Initiative, Masdar City, Zayed Future Energy Prize & World Future Energy Summit. He also worked closely with the UAE Federal National Council to produce the Global Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament, where the Abu Dhabi Declaration in response to global megatrends was drafted.

His personal mission is to edutain the public through specially-curated pavilions that raise awareness about humanity’s impact on the Planet, from MIYAH-World of Water, ALZAD- World of Food, NOOR Energy Pavilion, 97% Our Ocean is Alive Pavilion & Samiera Earth Expo, among others. He is also the brains behind the upcoming European Summit of Megatrends (ESOM).

Sam is also a board member of the International Water Bank, the world’s first institution targeting to invest in key water projects while addressing global water stress issues and promoting better practices.

ALEX MCNAMERA - Programme Manager: Climate & Water, National Business Initiative (NBI)

Programme Manager: Climate & Water, National Business Initiative (NBI)

Alex is an inter-disciplinary expert in the field of sustainable development, with over fifteen years’ experience working in Southern and East Africa on climate change, energy and water. He has acted as an advisor on sustainability for a range of multinationals, business associations, government departments and international donors. He has also appeared as an expert in the domestic and international media. 

Alex is presently a Programme Manager at the National Business Initiative (NBI), where he leads the NBI’s water programme. Alex holds a first class MSc in Environmental Change and Management from Oxford University.

TOBIAS ELLING - Ambassador of Denmark

Ambassador Tobias Elling Rehfeld is the Danish Ambassador to South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, eSwatini and Zimbabwe.

Prior, Ambassador Rehfeld was the Under-Secretary of State for Legal Affairs (Public International Law, Human Rights Law, EU Law, Administrative Law and general legal advice). He has previously served as head of the Department of Public International Law in the MFA. Before taking up this position, Ambassador Rehfeld served as Principal Private Secretary to the Danish Prime Minister. Ambassador Rehfeld has previously held the positions of Deputy Head of the Department for Human Rights and of Special Advisor on international law in the MFA and was posted as advisor on human rights to the Danish Permanent Representation to the United Nations in New York.


Researcher, Professor, consultant, expert witness, and author in the field of watershed hydrology and management, with a strong focus on hydrological processes, erosion/sedimentation processes and control, land restoration, stormwater management, post-fire rehabilitation, and climate change mitigation, with 18+ years of experience in the US, Europe, Africa, South America, and Central America.

Fluent in English and Spanish. Currently: Research Faculty at Colorado School of Mines (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering); Member of the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (also Director of the International Sediment Initiative) for Latin America and the Caribbean; Scientific Advisor for the International Erosion Control Association (Iberoamerican Chapter); and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona (Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences & Department of Biosystems Engineering).

JØRGEN LARSEN - Head of Cooperation, Danish Embassy Pretoria

Mr Jørgen Erik Larsen and has worked internationally with water and environmental management and water know-how and water technology export in 25 years. Mr Larsen  has worked abroad in Africa and Asia and have been serving high level management positions in both private and public sector.

He joined the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2015 at the Danish Embassy in Pretoria as Head of Cooperation and Counsellor for Water, Environment, Energy, Research and Innovation. Jørgen has here ben supervising the development and implementation of a Strategic Water Sector Cooperation Programme between relevant partners in water sector in Denmark and South Africa and supervising the Danish partnerships with renewable energy and sustainable urban development

ALEXANDER LANE - Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Commercial Director for Water Solutions

Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Commercial Director for Water Solutions, a global leader in sustainable separation and purification technology.

Alex manages the regional strategy & implementation for DuPont’s water treatment technology and its impact on the sustainability of water supply across EMEA.  Alex joined Dow Water Solutions (now DuPont Water Solutions) at the beginning of 2015, having previously held various management roles across European & Global markets, especially Oil & Gas.  Under his leadership, DuPont Water Solutions is focused on fast-growing its franchise across region- an exciting time, as DuPont recently announced key industry acquisitions.

ADRIAN SYM - Chief Executive AWS

As Chief Executive, Adrian Sym leads the pioneering work of the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS).

Since joining AWS in 2011, Adrian has overseen the development of AWS into the a truly global network that ignites and nurtures leadership in credible water stewardship. Adrian leads a globally-dispersed team of experts who support this work and ensure that lessons from local contexts are shared across the network, inform the ongoing development of the AWS Standard, and inspire responsible stewardship of our freshwater resources. 

A development and sustainability professional, Adrian has extensive international experience ranging from Fairtrade International in Germany to grassroots NGOs in Nepal and Bangladesh. 

His diverse experience, together with his academic background (Masters in International Policy and Diplomacy), has helped to shape Adrian’s view on sustainable development, believing that this can only be achieved through relationships built on trust and respect amongst and between stakeholder groups.


Nick Tandi is Africa Regional Coordinator at the 2030 Water Resources Group -hosted in the World Bank.

His work includes supporting teams in South Africa (working with Strategic Water Partners Network) and in Tanzania on crowding in private sector participation in water resources management and water infrastructure development. He previously worked at Stockholm International Water Institute and at UNDP’s Cap-Net programme supporting capacity building in Asia, Africa and Latin America. His key interests are in corporate water stewardship, financing water resources management and water infrastructure and public private partnerships. Nick has a multidisciplinary education in the natural sciences, social sciences and development finance.


Beth Chitekwe-Biti is the acting director at the SDI secretariat.

Before moving to SDI, Beth was the Founder Director of Dialogue on Shelter, a Zimbabwean NGO that’s working in a unique alliance with the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation a movement organised in urban poor neighbourhoods to push for secure tenure and inclusive human settlements. The two organisations are affiliated to the global movement of slum dwellers, Slum Dwellers International. Beth holds a planning degree from the University of Zimbabwe, a Postgraduate Certificate in Housing from the University College of London and a PhD in Development Policy and Management from the University of Manchester.


Siyabonga Myeza has been working in the environmental sector for over 9 years.

He began his career working in conservation in KwaZulu Natal where he worked in a number of places including iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Drakensberg World Heritage Site, Tembe Elephant Park. His first four and a half years at EMG he spent working in drylands ecosystems managing Avontuur Nature Reserve and working with rooibos small scale farmers in the Suid Bokkeveld in Nieuwoudtville, Northern Cape. As a Project Coordinator at EMG, Siya is currently based in Cape Town and works with the Western Cape Water Caucus and other communities around policy, lobbying and training in relation to water, climate change and social justice. He holds a B Tech in Nature Conservation and pursuing his MPhil in Sustainable Development studies.


Water Project Manager at NBI (

Ms Mmaphefo Thwala is a Water Project Manager at the National Business Initiative. Her role is to ensure water projects development & implementation; stakeholder management; and providing strategic input & alignment for the water programme. Previously, she was a Water Sector Specialist at the Energy & Water SETA providing specialist support to ensure the smooth running of the water sector cluster. Ms Thwala started her journey in the Water Sector at the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) where she worked for a period of 10 years. In her final Scientist role in DWS, she was the Project Manager responsible for classifying significant water resources in the Mvoti-Umzimkulu Water Management Area, where she successfully published (2017) the outcomes of the project in the Government Gazette. Academically, she holds an MBA from TUT (2018); an MSc. in Water Resource Management (2010) and BSc (Hons) in Microbiology from the University of Pretoria.

ALDERMAN DAN PLATO – Executive Mayor Cape Town

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SIMON PITTS - Technical Account Manager, DuPont

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LEANA HOSEA - Film Director, Water Protectors

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SHANNON ROYDEN-TURNER - Director, Actuality Urban

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