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“Water for Peace“ is the theme of UN World Water Day 2024. This motto is motivated by the crucial importance of water in our lives and in our society. Unequal access to water, the small number of cooperation agreements world wide, need to protect and preserve our water resources in times of climate change, ubiquitous reliance on a well-functioning and equitably managed water cycle are all issues that require urgent attention at international, regional and local levels.

This year’s conference dedicated to this day in Bulgaria will align with this theme, and bring to the audience a discussion about the importance and best practices of transboundary river operations and management, about the different aspects of the exploitation of water resources and about cutting edge technologies and solutions that can help address the main challenges of the water sector with respect to water resources management, preservation and effective use.

The key message “Prosperity and peace rely on water“ will be catered through a look at the strategies and approaches for climate change adaptation related to water, measures to build water resilience and water smart society in the age of increasing interchange of water scarcity, floods and droughts, and the need of innovation and cooperation on the way of achieving them.

This year’s traditional conference of the Bulgarian Water Association, dedicated to the World Water Day is co-organized with Mozaika, The Humanizing Technologies Lab, a solution provider in water resources management with advanced technologies using Earth observation and AI. It is endorsed by the European Space Agency and supported by the International Association of Water Service Companies in the Danube River Catchment Area (IAWD).

Official media partner

Key speakers

Michele Iapaolo – Official representative of the European Space Agency (ESA) in the opening
Dr. Mariana Damova – CEO of Mozaika
Birgit Vogel, ICPDR Executive Secretary
Assoc. prof. Dr. Eng. Ventzi Bojkov – Deputy dean for research and international activities, UACG
Nina Kickinger, Associate Information Systems Officer, Space4Water, UNOO SA
Raimund Mair – Senior Water Resources Management Specialist, Europe And Central Asia, World Bank

Michele Iapaolo works as a Commercialisation Officer in the ESA Directorate of Commercialisation, Industry & Competitiveness, in particular in the development of innovative products and services derived from – or that make use of – space technologies (like for example Earth Observation data) or in the adaption and transfer of terrestrial technologies into the space domain. He previously worked for more than 15 years in the ESA Earth Observation Directorate, where he gained an extensive experience in the development of EO downstream applications and new technologies for data management, data processing, information extraction and delivery. In the more recent years, he also worked as a Country Desk Officer in the ESA New Member States, Associate Members and Cooperating States office, implementing the ESA national schemes dedicated to the development of the industrial capabilities in Space in those Countries.

Dr. Mariana Damova is the CEO of Mozaika (, The Humanizing  Technologies Lab, a company providing research and solutions in the field of data science, natural interfaces, and human insight. Her background is in natural language processing, Semantic Web Technologies and AI, with strong academic and industrial record in North America and Europe, as C-level executive. She has taught graduate courses, conducted research at several universities in Europe and North America, lead international interdisciplinary teams with projects on various facets of knowledge management that carried technological risk. Dr. Damova holds a PhD from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, and a mini MBA from McGill University, Canada. She regularly reviews books and articles for ACM Computing Reviews  and has authored/co-authored more than 60 publications (books and scientific articles) in linguistics, semantic web technologies, water resources management and AI

Birgit Vogel is the ICPDR Executive Secretary (since August 2021), the first woman to take on the role, and the 4th Executive Secretary since the ICPDR’s establishment. An Austrian native and water resources manager, she has a very elaborated multicultural and international work experience in river basin management. Over more than 20 years, she has worked across Europe, India, South-East Asia, China, Africa, and the South Caucasus, covering many transboundary river basins like the Danube, Mekong, the Ganga, the Okavango. Ms. Vogel previously worked for the Secretariat of the Mekong River Commission, where she tackled coordination matters regarding integrated water resources management including mainstream hydropower development and possible transboundary impacts. Her last post was in Delhi with GIZ India to successfully manage the India-EU Water Water Partnership and to tackle the challenging management of river basins of India

Bozhidar Yankov received his bachelor’s degree in ecology and environmental protection in 2001 at University of Ruse. A master’s degree in public administration was completed at the University of Veliko Tarnovo, and a master’s degree in regional development management – again at the University of Ruse. He has been working in the Executive agency for Exploration and maintenance of the Danube River within Ministry of transport and communications since 2012, specifically in the „Hydrology and Hydrometeorology“ Department, and in 2015 he headed the newly created „European Programs, Projects and Public Relations“ Department. From April 2023, he holds the position of „secretary general“. Acquires practical experience in project management, communications, local government and regional development. He has participated in numerous regional and international projects, meetings and conferences.

Elena Daniela Ghiță is a Water Resources Management Specialist working for the World Bank since 2019, with over 15 years of experience in water resource management, primarily focused on hydraulic modeling and implementing the European Floods Directive. Under the World Bank programs umbrella, she was involved in projects related to drought risk assessment, integration of flood risk management into urban and spatial planning, development of an economic mechanism for sustainable financing of water infrstructure for National Administration „Romanian Waters” etc. She holds a master degree in Hydropower and Technical Hydraulics and in Analysis and Expertise of Environmental Risks.

Agnes Tahy is currently river basin management expert in the General Directorate of Water Management (OVF) in Hungary. As such she is responsible for the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive in Hungary, preparation of the 2nd & 3rd River Basin Management Plan of Hungary and the Report on that to WISE electronic platform, processing of water management information (quantity and quality), coordination of WFD Monitoring Programme and contribution of several projects on climate change issues related to water resources. Her past experience includes vast and comprehensive research of water and groundwater management. She is an author and has participated in numerous publications, projects and conferences.

Assoc. prof. Dr. Eng. Ventzi Bojkov is a deputy dean for research and international activities of Faculty of Hydraulic engineering at the University of architecture, civil engineering and Geodesy, Sofia. By education he is a civil engineer at irrigation and drainage, and has a MSc in Hydroinformatics from IHE, Delft, the Netherlands. His PhD degree is in Engineering hydrology, hydraulics, and water economy, and has topic Application of data mining methods for selection and systematization of data for river runoff assessment. Mr. Bojkov has many years of experience in the field of water and higher engineering education. His interests, in addition to the field of engineering hydrology, are also focused on the history of water works in the country, on the maintenance and management of small dams, and in the field of water regulations

Lyubomir Filipov serves as a Board member and a Vice-president of the International association of the water service companies in the Danube river catchment area (IAWD). In parallel of that he is Strategic partnerships and regulation Director at Sofiyska voda, part of Veolia where he is responsible for the public and regulatory affairs, innovations an the overall management of the company’s Concession contract. Sofiyska voda provides water supply, sewerage and waste water treatment services to the capital city of Bulgaria – Sofia with a population of 1.5 million people. Previously, Mr. Filipov was part of the Bulgarian State administration with the Ministry of finance and Council of ministers where he was dealing with EU funding and public-private partnerships.

Arthur Guischet has a strong background in Political Sciences and European Affairs. He joined the European Water Association in May 2022 as a Water Policy Officer, contributing his interpersonal skills and diverse experiences to represent EWA in various events and working groups. Currently, EWA Deputy Secretary General, he will step-in as EWA Secretary General in June 2024.

Nina Kickinger obtained her first-class Master’s degree in Media Informatics from the Vienna University of Technology and holds a Master of Advanced International Studies from the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. She has over 20 years of experience in software engineering. Her research interests have been focused on participatory design processes and facilitating interdisciplinary knowledge creation and exchange. She has been working for international intergovernmental organizations since 2011. At UNOOSA she is responsible for the Space4Water Project, organising an international conference series, facilitating a web portal on science communication and knowledge exchange on the use of space technology, data and applications for water management and hydrology. She organises Space4Water stakeholder meetings, an event for the community of practice to meet and co-design space-based solutions addressing water-related challenges, as well as an opportunity for interdisciplinary knowledge exchange on topics related to water. 

Stefano Natali is the founder of and managing director of MEEO (Italy) and SISTEMA (Austria). He owns a bachelor degree in general physics from the University if Ferrara, Italy, and has more than 25 years’ experience in the analysis of satellite data, for biophysical parameters retrieval, as well as land cover change and land use assessment. In his current position he develops new business lines with international financing institutions, as well as managing the R&D unit of the group.

Iphigenia Christophoridou works as a Business Development Executive at Geofem with a BSc in Economics and Management and MA in Legal and Political Theory. Her extensive experience in the UK enables her to bring a range of valuable skills and knowledge across commercial operations at Geofem. Iphigenia is responsible for executing business strategy, ensuring corporate goals are met, fostering relationships with clients and ultimately driving business growth and product awareness.

Raimund Mair joined the World Bank Group Water Global Practice in 2019. In his position as Senior Water Resources Management Specialist in the Water Unit for Europe and Central Asia, he is supporting countries in the sustainable management of water resources, ensuring access to safe water supply and sanitation services, and mitigating water-related risks. He is leading the Danube Water Program, which is a Technical Assistance Program supporting the water sector in Danube region countries. In his previous occupations at the European Commission, the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, and the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, he was working on the implementation of EU Water Directives 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.

Lukas Kornfeind currently works as a Head of Solutions Department in s::can GmbH. His responsibilities include and are not limited to development of customized solutions for process engineering and water quality monitoring worldwide, establishment of cooperation contracts, project management including planning, commissioning and development of maintenance concepts, establishment of international markets, execution of feasibility studies worldwide, direct collaboration with s::can R&D, Marketing, Sales and Customer Services. He is also lecturer for World Bank water utility management training program and ÖWAV for online water quality monitoring in wastewater treatment plants.

We have prepared a vivid agenda of keynote talks, presentations and discussions from experts, water professionals, policy makers, decision makers, solution providers from the public, private and non-governmental sector from Bulgaria and other European countries and expect international audience to help celebrate the World Water Day in Bulgaria.

Special award ceremony in the beginning of the day will distinguish the best photos in the photo competition “The beauty of water”, conducted annually by the Bulgarian Water Association together with the Ministry of Environment and Water of Republic of Bulgaria.

The event is funded by Mozaika and Contract 4000141832/23/NL/MH/rp awarded to Mozaika from ESA PECS Program

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