Water Risk Management for the Private Sector


6 weeks


June 24




None required

Learn from the Experts 

Get the knowledge, skills, and frameworks to more deeply understand hazards and risks associated with water. Whether you are a decision-maker in the corporate or private sector, an analyst, lawyer, activist or interested individual, the Certificate Program in Water Risk Management for the Private Sector can help guide you, and the organization you work for, toward better management of water.

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– The water crisis is one of the biggest risks facing our world in 2019 –

– World Economic Forum 2019


Upmanu Lall
Upmanu Lall
Director, Columbia Water Center and Department Chair, Earth & Environmental Engineering at Columbia University

Dr. Upmanu Lall is the Director of the Columbia Water Center and the Alan and Carol Silberstein Professor of Engineering at Columbia University. He has broad interests in hydrology, climate dynamics, water resource systems analysis, risk management and sustainability. He is motivated by challenging questions at the intersection of these fields, especially where they have relevance to societal outcomes or to the advancement of science towards innovative application. He has been engaged in high level public and scientific discussion through the media, the World Economic Forum, and with governments, foundations, development banks, and corporations. He has served on several national and international panels. He was one of the originators of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, and served as the President of the Natural Hazards Focus Group of the American Geophysical Union.


Kari Vigerstol
Kari Vigerstol
Director, Water Security Science and Innovation, The Nature Conservancy

Kari Vigerstol es el Director de Ciencia e Innovación de la Seguridad del Agua del programa global de agua de The Nature Conservancy, fortaleciendo y avanzando estratégicamente la ciencia que se encuentra detrás de las estrategias de TNC para la protección de las fuentes de agua y la escasez de agua. Durante los últimos 19 años, Kari ha llevado sus habilidades técnicas y su experiencia en la construcción de alianzas a docenas de cuencas alrededor del mundo para proteger las fuentes de agua y mejorar el uso y manejo del agua. La experiencia de Kari incluye la organización comunitaria para crear conciencia sobre la calidad de las vías fluviales urbanas y mejorarla de manera mensurable, la evaluación de la ingeniería de los recursos hídricos, el diseño y la gestión de proyectos, y la dirección del trabajo corporativo de TNC, el avance de la acción colectiva en cuencas críticas de todo el mundo a través de la gestión integrada de los recursos hídricos, las mejores prácticas de gestión agrícola y el desarrollo de mecanismos de financiamiento sostenibles.  Kari tiene una licenciatura y una maestría en Ingeniería Civil y Ambiental de la Universidad de Rice y de la Universidad de Washington, con un enfoque en Planificación y Gestión de Recursos Hídricos. Dirigió el equipo detrás de Beyond the Source: the environmental, economic, and community benefits of source water protection y ha sido coautora de varios documentos sobre gestión sostenible del agua. Kari es un ávido corredor de senderos y aventurero al aire libre, incluyendo ciclismo a través de África para recaudar fondos para un pozo comunitario en Etiopía y recientemente corriendo alrededor del sendero Wonderland Trail de 96 millas de Mt Rainier en tres días.

Paulina Concha Laurri
Paulina Concha Laurri
Research Staff Associate, Columbia Water Center

Paulina Concha Larrauri is a researcher at the Columbia Water Center at Columbia University in New York, where she has worked under the direction of Prof. Upmanu Lall for the past six years. She obtained a B.S. in Chemistry from the ITESM in Monterrey, Mexico, and a M.S. degree in Environmental Engineering from Columbia University. She worked for five years in engineering at Procter & Gamble prior to starting a career in water. Her research includes risk assessments of tailings dams, developing a risk-based approach for the valuation of water in the mining industry, developing strategies for water management and climate risk in agricultural supply chains, and evaluating the feasibility of implementing decentralized water systems, among others.

Peter Schulte
Peter Schulte
Senior Digital Engagement Associate, Pacific Institute and UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate

Peter Schulte joined the Pacific Institute in 2008. As senior associate for the Institute’s corporate sustainability projects, his work focuses on connecting companies and a variety of stakeholders with research, guidance, case studies, and best practices that lead to improved water stewardship. Over his tenure at the Institute, Peter has worked on a variety of issues, including corporate water accounting and disclosure, water risk, collective action, the human right to water, sanitation, sustainability standards, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In his current position, Peter leads the development of the CEO Water Mandate website, Water Stewardship Toolbox, and Water Action Hub.

Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Presidio Graduate School (formerly Pinchot University).

Nick Martin
Nick Martin
Sustainability Practice Lead, Antea Group and Executive Director, The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER)

Nick Martin is dedicated to supporting clients with assessing, prioritizing and managing sustainability-related business risks and opportunities. He has extensive experience supporting a wide range of private and public organizations with translating sustainability aspirations into successful strategies and collaborative approaches.  Much of his strategic support involves remaining current on leading practices in sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (CR) and utilizing this knowledge to assist clients with benchmarking against peers and developing viable and differentiating strategies. Specific areas of expertise include: global water stewardship and security, monetization, context-based decision making, collective action, and corporate transparency. Nick is also Executive Director of the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER), a coalition of 17 leading global beverage companies working collaboratively towards environmental sustainability, and facilitates BIER’s Water Working Group. He previously worked in the non-profit sector with the Global Environmental & Technology Foundation (GETF) in Washington, DC and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan.  Nick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science, a Master’s degree in Environmental and Energy Management and a Masters of Business Administration. He is married with two sons and lives in Denver, Colorado.

Paul Reig
Paul Reig
Director, Corporate Water Stewardship, World Resources Institute

Paul is responsible for Corporate Water Stewardship and the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas project at the World Resources Institute. Throughout his career, Paul has assisted numerous companies across sectors—including food and beverage, IT, oil & gas, consumer goods, and apparel—with developing water risk assessments, strategies and targets. Paul is also deeply involved in shaping corporate water disclosure standards and ESG water risk ratings as member of the CDP Water Advisory Council, Global Reporting Initiative 303: Water and Effluents Standard Project Working Group, and Calvert Investments Water Advisory Group.

Paul has authored numerous publications, including the Exploring the Case for Context-based Corporate Water Targets, From Doing Better to Doing Enough: Anchoring Corporate Sustainability Targets in Science, Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines, and Global Shale Gas Development: Water Availability & Business Risk, to name a few. Prior to joining WRI, Paul spent four years managing a wide range of watershed restoration projects throughout the US States of Virginia and North Carolina. Paul also spent time in Latin America working on environmental and social impact assessments for global energy and mining companies.

Paul grew up in Barcelona and holds a MS in Water Resources Management from McGill University in Montreal, a BS in Environmental and Agricultural Biology from the University of Navarra, in Pamplona, Spain, as well as a Certificate in Project Management from Georgetown University.

Water is life

Water is the incipient issue of 21st century sustainable development. Water is at once environmental, social and economic.

From an environmental and social perspective, water challenges present themselves in many ways, some of which include: floods, droughts, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, the need for conservation and more.

Change the world

What more and more decision-makers in business – and those in the public and nonprofit organizations that interact with them – are coming to understand that hazards and risks associated with water and water’s effective management are unique and complex.  

Getting the fundamentals right means asking the right questions about the right risks in the first place. And, effectively managing water risks is key to organizational wellbeing and to a shared and positive quality of life, now and for the future.

Effectively managing the hazards and risks for water is about both short and long term water security.   

This Certificate Program is for you

If you would like to understand the business case for addressing water and water management from the point of view of business risk and opportunities; to learn from experts who regularly work on these issues, from a practical point-of- view as well as that of research and applied research; to learn about potential decision-making outcomes through innovative, web-based tools showing you the potential consequences of your water management choices; and to apply what you have learned to your organization, for more positive, proactive management of risks associated with water, this Certificate Program is for you.


Will I get a certificate?

Yes. After successfully completing the Certificate Program you will receive a digital certificate, in PDF, from The Columbia Water Center.


When is the deadline for inscriptions?

June 24th

How much time will it require?

Between 5 and 7 hours per week, for seven weeks, beginning in June 24, 2019 and ending on July 29, 2019. To help adapt this Certificate Program to your schedule, during each week, you can pick when to take the class and submit your assignments.


What is a Whetu course like?

Whetu courses are highly interactive with activities such as quizzes and exercises combined with short videos and interviews with instructors and industry experts. 

Typically, after each lesson there will be a problem set with questions for you to confirm what you’ve leaned. 



The Certificate comprises 6 modules presented weekly over the course of six weeks beginning on June 24 and ending on July 29, 2019.   

Each module is approximately one-hour, comprising lectures, questions, and mini-exercises.  



In addition, each participant engages in an on-line learning decision-making experience that maps out consequences of choices on the topics covered under the 6 Topics.  

At the end of the Program, participants are awarded a Certificate of Completion by Columbia Water Center, Columbia University.  


Whetu and the Columbia Water Center have intentionally designed the Certificate Program as an integrated and holistic approach focused through a series of critical questions about water, and its associated risks and opportunities. The questions are captured under five topics with the sixth as a culminating, innovative decision-making exercise that can be applied in real-world setting. 

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The Columbia Water Center

Founded in 2008, The Columbia Water Center’s mission is to creatively tackle water challenges of a rapidly changing world where water and climate interact with food, energy, ecosystems and urbanization.

Headed by Dr. Upmanu Lall of Columbia University, CWC brings together a group of renowned faculty, student and postdoctoral researchers as well as external collaborators to work on innovative solutions to water problems.

Recognizing the public and private sector roles and opportunities, and the unique water, climate and socio-economic settings around the world, CWC stresses analytics at multiple scales, from technologies at the farm level, to new systems-level thinking in the design of urban smart water grids, reservoir and groundwater operations, ecosystems restoration, water-informed agriculture and food procurement and national and regional water policy. Sophisticated water demand/supply and flood forecasts using climate information and their integration with financial risk management instruments are also central to the Center’s work.

You can learn more here and from The Center’s 10 Year Report

Water Risk Management for the Private Sector

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Courses in Whetu have been designed to help you solve shared challenges. There is a wide variety of courses on many different topics