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Plenary Speakers


Prof. Jaeweon Cho

Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea

Jaeweon Cho is Science Art Writer and Environmental Engineer studying communication signs. He teaches Science Humanities and Environmental Ethics at UNIST. He has directed the Convergence Research Center, named 'Science Walden', supported by National Research Foundation of Korea, with convergence of science and arts being focused, between 2015-2021. He contributed as science consultant for the off-Broadway play, "Science in Theatre Festival" with the theme of feces Standard Money (fSM) in 2022, with the BeeVi toilet. He is one of founding members of North Korea Water Society under the ministry of Unification, Korea, since 2015, to discuss what should be done for Korean re-unification and on potential ways to collaborate to solve water issues in both Koreas, between two Koreas. He has been providing small water purification units being operated without electricity (named ‘OngDalSaem’), to villages in various different countries. He is authors of books, “Honey Money: fSM a new money for a new society” (2020,, UK), “This is not a toilet” (2021), “Cyborg Thinks Sense Laboratory” (2022), and “Climate Change Humanities” (2015). He wrote columns in Seoul Newspaper, in “Eco-science of Jaeweon Cho” (2022-2023).

"Driving the circular economy of nutrients through demand: the case of phosphorus" 

Dana Cordell is a Research Director and Associate Professor at UTS’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, where she leads the Food Systems research group. She works with stakeholders across Australia, South Asia, UK and North America to co-identify how food systems can transform and circularise in response to a range of sustainability risks, from urban sprawl to climate change to the emerging global phosphorus challenge. Since co-founding the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative in 2008, Dana has been passionately dedicated to investigating measures that can ensure long-term availability and accessibility of phosphorus for future food security, while protecting the environment from nutrient pollution. Dana recently joined the UNEP-GEF uPcycle project led by UK CEH, which aims to accelerate the transition to a circular global phosphorus cycle to protect freshwater and coastal ecosystems. She currently co-leads the DFAT-funded PACSAN project which is modelling phosphorus and carbon emissions across Australia and China’s food value chains, and, identifying priority measures to mitigate these together with a network of stakeholders across both countries. As a Chief Investigator in the ARC Research Hub ‘Nutrients in a Circular Economy’, Dana is investigating the governance and market barriers to scaling up circular nutrient value chains in the Australian food system. Dana provides expert advice to the UN and national governments as a global food and phosphorus security expert. Her internationally recognised phosphorus research was awarded one of Australia’s top science prizes – a Eureka Prize.

A/Prof. Dana Cordell

Institute for Sustainable Futures

University of Technology Sydney 


Dr. David Bergmann

South-East Water

Appointed as Non-Executive Director of WaterRA in 2020, David is the Research & Development Manager at Melbourne’s South East Water. He has over 20 years’ research and product development experience in highly commercial environments. David has led teams to deliver major business transformations, cost improvements and new product launches. David also works with the major universities engaging in activities such as co-supervision, advisory boards and chairing project steering committees. At South East Water, he shapes the R&D strategy, leads R&D governance, manages the intellectual property portfolio, and works extensively with their commercial subsidiary Iota to bring innovations to a broader market. He also is the Chair of a not-for-profit Board with a portfolio of community initiatives, schools, accommodation and aged care.

Professor Bernadette McCabe is currently Director at the University of Southern Queensland's (UniSQ) Centre for Agricultural Engineering (CAE) and is the Research Program Team Leader for Energy and Bioresource Recycling. Bernadette is Australia's National Team Leader for the International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy program Task 37: Energy from Biogas and is a member of the Australian Research Council (ARC) College of Experts.
Bernadette has a background in agricultural & industrial bioengineering and has more than 25 years’ experience as an academic and researcher. Her research investigates technologies to enable intensive Australian farming and food-processing industries to turn their commercial waste into a valuable commodity. She works with these industries to be more profitable by using organic waste to produce biogas, clean recycled water and biofertiliser. Her research has been applied to the livestock and cropping sectors (both on and off farm) and water utilities.
Bernadette extends her science communication beyond high impact journals by regularly contributing to media outlets to boost public awareness of bioenergy and bioresource recycling and has promoted science in schools since 2007 through CSIRO’s STEM Professionals in schools program.

Prof. Bernadette McCabe

University of Southern Queensland

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Prof. Liu Ye

The University of Queensland, Australia

"Revisiting Resource Recovery from Used Water in the Net-Zero Emissions Era" 

Prof Liu Ye is the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) research programme leader at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her research activities focus on finding innovative and practical solutions to tackle challenges in achieving net-zero emissions, climate resilience, and sustainability in the urban water sector. She has established national and international leadership in the research field of GHG emissions from urban wastewater systems and has been active in this area for over 15 years. Prof. Ye has led many government- and industry-funded research projects and has over 150 publications in this area. She is also the lead editor of the recently published IWA book “Quantification and Modelling of Fugitive Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Urban Water Systems.” The research outputs from her group not only advance the understanding of fundamental GHG production but are also adopted by water utilities to quantify and reduce GHG emissions in full-scale treatment plants. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and an elected member of the Strategic Council of the International Water Association (IWA) since 2022.

Paul has worked in fostering sustainability in Australia for over 35 years. In 1987 he co-founded Australian Ethical, Australia’s first socially responsible investment manager with now over $8.5b under management. Paul co-founded Planet Ark in 1992, was its CEO from 2010-2022 and is presently a Board Member and its Chief Sustainability Advisor. He is the key instigator of their Australian Circular Economy Hub which aims to inspire the transition to a carbon neutral circular economy in Australia.

Planet Ark has become one of Australia’s most well-known and trusted environmental organisations through highly successful campaigns such as National Tree Day, Cartridges 4 Planet Ark & Recycling Near You. Planet Ark help people, governments and businesses reduce their impact on the environment in three key areas: sustainable resource use using circular economy principles; low carbon lifestyles; and connecting people with nature. They promote and create simple, positive environmental actions for everyone. The latest major initiatives include the development of the Australasian Recycling Label (an evidenced based standardised recycling label) and the Australian Circular Economy Hub which aims to facilitate to the transition to a Circular Economy.


Paul Klymenko

Chief Sustainability Advisor and Executive Director,

Planet Ark

Keynote Speakers

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"Biochar in the Circular Economy" 

Professor Yong Sik Ok serves as the Chair and Program Director of the Sustainable Waste Management Program for the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU). He also holds the esteemed position of President of the International ESG Association (IESGA). Professor Ok was recognised as a Highly Cited Researcher (HCR) in three distinct fields: Environment and Ecology, Engineering, and Biology and Biochemistry for the year 2022. He has an h-index of 160, accompanied by over 20,000 annual citations and a portfolio boasting more than 110 highly cited papers. Professor Ok stands as the most cited scientist in Korea across various disciplines showcasing his exceptional contributions to research. Professor Ok serves as the President of International Society of Trace Element Biogeochemistry (ISTEB).

"Development of Dual Ammonia Removal/Recovery from Sludge Digestate using a Novel Hollow Fiber/Flat Sheet Membrane Distillation"

Dr. Alicia An received her PhD from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). With 20 years in the field of membrane-based water treatment, she has published over 130 papers, achieving an h-index of 42 and an FWCI of 2.48. Her work focuses on emerging technologies such as Membrane Distillation (MD), Forward Osmosis, and hybrid Reverse Osmosis for the removal of emerging pollutants and resource recovery. Dr. An has been recognized among the top 2% of the world's most highly cited scientists in a report by Elsevier and Stanford University since 2020. Dr. Alicia An was awarded the "RGC Research Fellow" title in the Research Fellow Scheme (RFS) by the HKRGC in 2022 and received the CityU Outstanding Research Award in 2023. She has secured over HK$50 million in research grant funding. Additionally, she serves as an Associate Editor for the journal Process Safety and Environmental Protection, and as an Editorial Board member for Desalination and the Journal of Water Process Engineering.

Prof. Alicia An

School of Energy and Environment

City University Hong Kong, HKSAR

A/Prof. Sungyun Lee

Department of Environmental and Safety Engineering,

Kyungpook National University

"Machine Learning in the Circular Economy: Research Trend and Applications" 

Prof. Sungyun Lee is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Safety Engineering at Kyungpook National University, Korea, since 2019. Before embarking on his academic career, he made significant contributions to forward osmosis membrane development as a senior researcher at Toray Chemical Korea. He further enhanced his expertise in membrane process research at the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials. His research primarily focuses on membrane processes and water treatment, especially in areas such as forward osmosis, microbial fuel cells, and the analysis of natural organic matter. More recently, he has also explored the use of machine learning to optimize water treatment processes, aiming for water and energy sustainability.

Dr Amit Chanan is an experienced senior executive with a career spanning over two decades within the international water industry and infrastructure services. Amit is currently appointed as the Chief Executive Officer for the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF). Prior to this role, Amit was the Director City Projects and Property with The City of Sydney, Australia. He led the City’s centre of excellence in infrastructure delivery, responsible for developing and delivering major infrastructure projects to realise the Council’s strategic intent. Amit was also responsible for ensuring the sustainable performance of the City’s multi-billion dollar property portfolio, balancing return on investment with community and social objectives. Before that, Amit was the Chief Operating Officer of the New South Wales State Water Corporation. In this role, Amit represented the state of New South Wales on the River Murray Water Committee, an inter-jurisdictional entity comprising Commonwealth and State Governments to manage operational aspects of the Murray-Darling Basin. Amit is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Engineers. With a PhD in Engineering, Amit has strong academic interests and is currently an Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Technology Sydney.  He has published several academic papers and book chapters on topics of water management and environmental engineering.  He is a member of the Editorial Board of UK’s Institute of Civil Engineers’ Journal of Municipal Engineering.

Amit is a Member of the Advisory Board to UNESCO, under its International Hydrological Program. He is also the Vice Chairman of the International Water Association’s Specialist Group on Water Security and Safety Management. Amit is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the WaterLinks, a Philippines based NGO focussed on water sector capacity building through collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region. Amit have chaired, led, and participated in numerous national and international conferences and symposia. Competition in water, efficiency of water services, and its interface with Smart Cities of the future are his particular areas of interest where he has published and spoken extensively both within Australia and globally.

Dr. Amit Chanan

Chief Executive Officer

Water Authority of Fiji (WAF)

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Dr. Thomas Gao

The Chief Scientist office of NSW

He currently serves as the Business Development Manager at the NSW Decarbonisation Innovation Hub, where he plays a vital role in driving decarbonisation initiatives and fostering partnerships. Thomas spent over five years as a Manager at the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, where he led various projects including the NSW Power-to-X initiatives, the development of the NSW 20 Year R&D Roadmap, and managing the $24 million Small Business Innovation Program. With a passion for sustainability and innovation, Thomas is committed to leveraging his expertise to address climate change challenges and drive positive change in New South Wales and beyond. Thomas Gao has recently been involved in a $2 billion renewable hydrogen program that solidifies the commitment to sustainable energy solutions for powerfuels and clean energy. This initiative demonstrates a dedication to environmental sustainability and innovative energy solutions. He is interested in energy, sustainability, technology and new industries and he believes that evidence-based policy can make a real impact.

Liana Downey (GAICD) is the Chair and President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, and an expert advisor on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. Liana was the CEO of the Blueprint Institute, founder Common Ground on Climate, Deputy Secretary for NSW Education and established McKinsey & Company's sustainability practice, where she led the development of Australia’s first Greenhouse Gas Abatement Cost Curve.  

She holds an MBA from Stanford University (Arjay Miller Scholar), is the author of Mission Control: How Governments and Nonprofits can Focus, Achieve More and Change the World (Taylor & Francis) and taught at New York University’s Wagner’s School of Public Policy.  

Liana Downey


Australian Conservation Foundation

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