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Jointly awarded by UNU-INWEH and SUEZ, the 2017 Water Catalyst Award winner is His Excellency Seleshi Bekele Awulachew, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The award ceremony was held in Hamilton on 21 July 2017 and attended by faculty members from different universities – McMaster University, Ryerson University, Waterloo University, and University of Ottawa – in addition to the participants from the following entities: FloodNet, WaterTAP, McMaster Innovation Park, Environment and Climate Change Canada, RHST Industries, UniWater Education Ltd, Canadian Geophysical Union, International Council for Science, and Forum for Leadership on Water.

In his lecture,, His Excellency Minister Awulachew addressed key water issues and challenges in African and Ethiopian perspectives amid water related sustainable development challenges. While taking account of the processes undertaken in achieving in the Millennium Development Goals across regions and countries, he emphasized the water related sustainable development as the key to achieving several interconnected Sustainable Development Goals.

Minister Awulachew is a global leader on water issues, and has been instrumental in leading the Ministry that has significant portfolio in advancing water and energy development in one of the most rapidly growing developing countries in Africa. Ethiopia is putting in place a unique development partnership model for achieving rapid water supply and sanitation access, water for advancing rapid irrigation development including as a means of agricultural transformation, productivity and food security.

The award to His Excellency Minister Awulachew was jointly presented by Dr. Vladimir Smakhtin, UNU-INWEH Director and Mr. Steven Smith, Project Management Treatment Solutions – Ancaster Platform, SUEZ.