High-level panel: 'Digital twins' of river basins

Introduction to the panel theme

As water shortages emerge in many parts of the globe, it is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge to provide sufficient water resources for human consumption, agriculture and industry. At the same time, flood intensities, frequencies and related risks are likely to continuously increase due to climate-change and land use development. Not surprisingly, water managers are facing increasing pressure to make fast decisions with potential impact on national economies and public safety. 

This calls for a change in the water management paradigm, shifting from a frequently slow, bureaucratic, and politically driven process to a fast, responsive and proactive, data driven process.

‘Digital twins’ could play a central role in this shift providing state-of-the-art tools which allow analysis of past events, solid understanding of the current situation and insights into future challenges and trade-offs.

Fast technological advances in the areas of monitoring, earth observation, data processing, modelling, cloud computing, etc. enable desktop and operational ‘digital twins’ of river basin systems which include all the elements of the hydrological cycle and allow precise hindcasting, nowcasting and forecasting to support collaborative water management decision-making.

Meet the panel experts

Amparo Lopez
Vice President of IAHR

Mrs Amparo Lopez gained the qualification of Industrial Engineer at the Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain, and Bachelor on combined Engineering at Coventry Polytechnic University in UK. She finished her PhD in the Department of Hydraulic and Environment Engineering (UPV, Spain). Currently, she is a Full Professor of Hydraulic Engineering at the higher Technical School of Industrial Engineering, and Director of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Department since 2016.

Since 1997, her research has focused on numerical hydraulic modelling. Her professional goals relate to the integration between sustainability concepts and hydraulic models, focusing on the role of digitalization in the water field. She is Vice President of IAHR, where she promotes the activities in Digitalization, among others.

Ramund Mair
Senior Water Resource Management Specialist at World Bank Group Water Global Practice

Mr. Raimund Mair joined the World Bank Group Water Global Practice in 2019. In his position as Senior Water Resource Management Specialist he is involved in addressing aspects related to Water Security in the Europe and Central Asia region, as well as leading the Danube Water Program. He has more than 15 years of experience working in the water sector. In his previous occupations at the European Commission, the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River and the Austrian Ministry of Environment, he has been working on the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive, sustainable water resources management, and transboundary cooperation. Mr. Mair holds diplomas in Engineering from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna and Water Policy from Cranfield University, United Kingdom.

Dr. YU Qian
Senior engineer at the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR)

Dr. Qian Yu is a senior engineer at the IWHR. Currently, she is the IAHR Council Member (2021-2023) as the APD YPN Regional Representative and a member of the Committee on Education and Professional Development.

She received her B.Sc. degree in Harbor Waterway and Coastal Engineering from Hohai University (2006-2010) and Ph.D. degree in Hydraulic Engineering from Tsinghua University (2010-2015). She also worked at the Delft University of Technology as a visiting PhD (2013-2014). She joined IWHR in 2015. Her research interests include flood risk management and impact assessment, flood resilience, green infrastructure and environmental hydraulics.

Dr. Qian Yu has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers in journals and conferences. She has co-authored one Chinese monograph and one English chapter and participated in writing two Chinese monographs. In addition, she has been participating in more than 30 scientific projects and international cooperation projects. She served as the permanent secretariat of the International Conference on Flood Management (ICFM) from 2018-2020.

Sophia Steinbacher
Researcher (PraeDoc)

Ms. Sophia Steinbacher is a PhD Student in the field of water-quality and health, applying novel molecular-biological methods and statistical models assessing the microbial-faecal pollution of rivers. She works at the Karl Landsteiner University of Life Science in Krems in the research group of Univ.-Prof. Andreas Farnleitner. She is enrolled in the doctoral studies Technical Chemistry at the TU Vienna, in which she also got her Bachelor and Masters degree. Since 2023

Sophia is the chair of the Austrian Young Water Professional (YWP) chapter, trying to connect young people in the water sector. Interaction and interdisciplinarity is key.

Leticia Candela Blazquez
Msc. Civil Engineer at General Directorate of Water at the Spanish Ministry of Transitional Ecology

Leticia Candela gained the qualification of MSc Civil Engineer at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in the speciality of Hydraulics and Energetics and a Master Degree in Water Ecology at the same university. She worked for 3 years in a company developing hydropower projects around the world. Then she passed the public exams of the Spanish Government to become civil servant and since then she has been working at the General Directorate of Water of the Spanish Ministry of Transitional Ecology in the fields of flood protection projects, flood adaptation and resilience, river restoration projects and in the recovery of the Mar Menor Lagoon.

Dr. ir. Koen Berends
Researcher, adviser & environmental river engineer at Deltares

Dr. ir. Koen Berends gained his qualification as a civil engineer from the University of Twente in The Netherlands. He joined Deltares in 2012, specialising in river engineering and modelling. He combined his work with research at the University of Twente, receiving his PhD for his work on uncertainty quantification and model validation. As the programme secretary of The Netherlands Centre for River studies, he promotes collaboration between (applied) research institutes, government and industry. His current work focusses on digital innovation, nature-based solutions and co-creation.

hosted by…

Stefan Szylkarski
Executive Vice President for Water Resources & Mining at DHI

Stefan leads DHI’s global Water Resource & Mining organisation of over 200 professionals across the globe. Through a career of more than 25 years at DHI he has been a developer, teacher, and advocate of DHI’s digital tools and technologies that enable decision making for complex water management challenges. He has been closely involved in the development and evolution of the MIKE software products through the application of the tools to solve water management challenges across Asia, Europe and the Americas in all phases of the water cycle.

Stefan’s expertise is in engineering hydraulics, hydrology, flooding, water supply, groundwater, environmental water management and the associated ecological and environmental assessment process. He has extensive experience in the application of software and computer models to support water planning and real time operational water management in rivers, urban, mining and marine water environments. He has managed and worked extensively within teams of multidisciplinary engineers and scientists in the fields of engineering, biogeochemistry, hydrogeology, and information technology to deliver solutions to water management challenges in a wide variety of industries.

See you in Vienna!


Visit us at booth #14

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About DHI

At DHI, we have been committed to advancing and sharing knowledge of water environments for over half a century. Rooted in deep domain knowledge combined with advanced technologies and unique modelling software, we develop tailor-made solutions and provide specialised advisory services to solve water challenges across segments and industries worldwide. Our expertise spans all water environments, from rivers and reservoirs to oceans and coastlines, to cities, industries and factories, to surface and groundwater. Headquartered in Denmark, and with offices in 26 countries across the globe, DHI employs over 1,000 engineers and specialists, enabling clients in 115 countries to solve their water challenges.