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Hubert H.G. Savenije

Hubert H.G. Savenije
Hubert H.G. Savenije

The 2008 Henry Darcy Medal is awarded to Hubert H.G. Savenije for outstanding contributions to Hydrology and Water Resources Management.

Professor Savenije started his career as a young hydrological engineer in Mozambique where he worked for the local state government on issues of catchment hydrology, water resources engineering, water resources planning. Starting in Mozambique, but throughout his career he has dedicated much of his efforts to capacity building training and education of water scientists from developing countries. Hubert Savenije is currently Professor of Hydrology (Chair) at the Delft University of Technology and also holds a professorship at the UNESCO-IHE, Delft and an adjunct professorship at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam.

Prof. Savenije is one of the driving forces behind the establishment of WaterNet, a regional network of 50 universities and research institutes in Southern Africa for education, research, training and outreach in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), where annually 40 water engineers are educated at MSc level. Under his supervision 13 researchers, mainly from developing countries obtained the PhD degree, and more than 150 students obtained the MSc degree. He was able to integrate his practical knowledge of different societal, environmental and cultural circumstances of many different parts of the world in the first fully-fledged Masters programme on Integrated Water Resources Management, which he started at IHE-Delft in 1992. The present modular WaterNet programme in IWRM is a direct spin-off from this Masters programme.

Professor Savenije is a leading researcher in the field of estuary hydrology and hydraulics, where he has developed new theories that deal with hydraulics, mixing, morphology and salinity within an integrating framework. The methodologies have been particularly useful for the sustainable use of the water resources of estuaries in Mozambique, Thailand, Vietnam and the Netherlands. His monograph “Salinity and Tides in Alluvial Estuaries” is unique in that it presents a comprehensive and integrated theory of estuaries. In catchment hydrology Professor Savenije has worked both at the hillslope and small catchment scales (many catchments in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Central Europe) and at the large river basin scale (e.g., Zambezi, Nile). He has introduced and successfully articulated interception as a crucial process to be included explicitly in hydrological modelling and has also done considerable work on moisture recycling in Africa. In water resources management Prof. Savenije has played a leading role in defining the concept of integrated water resources management (IWRM), going as far back as the Dublin Conference (1992). He contributed to the Management of International Waters and Conflict Mitigation. For example, he was also the driving force behind the educational track of the PCCP (from potential conflict to cooperation potential) programme of UNESCO, which led to a training model, developed with partners in the Southern African region that proved very successful for the training of multidisciplinary and international groups, consisting of both professionals and diplomats.

Prof. Hubert Savenije has (co-)authored 85 scientific articles in international journals and has been editor of 12 special issues, and has published over 50 articles in refereed conference proceedings or national journals. Hubert Savenije has been honoured as an invited keynote speaker on numerous occasions, including the 8th Stockholm Water Symposium (1998), the Annual Meeting of the Korea Water Resources Association (South Korea, 1996), the UNESCO workshop on Non-structural Measures for Water Management Problems (Canada, 2001), the Eduardo Mondlane University Public Lecture on Water Allocation in International River Basins (Maputo, 2001), and at the 50th Blue Seminar of EU-JRC (Ispra, Italy, 2000). Special mention must be made of the fact that Professor Savenije was one of the chief organizers of the 2nd World Water Forum held in The Hague in 2000. It was this forum that helped put “water” firmly on the international political agenda.