CIWEM president's blog: introducing the new team and why they want an inclusive, accessible community

CIWEM's new president, Bushra Hussain, tells us why we need to connect a community inclusive and accessible for all

This year we welcome Bushra Hussain as CIWEM’s 37th President, and Emily Clarke as CIWEM’s Junior President. They are supported by President Elect Hannah Coogan, Junior President Elect Peter Rook, and Vice-President John Curtin.

Hussain’s presidential theme for the year ahead is connecting a community inclusive and accessible for all. Here, she sets out her presidential agenda and themes for her term in office.

President Bushra Hussain FCIWEM C.WEM is ports practice lead, EMEA for Advisian in Dubai

This year’s theme is connecting a community inclusive and accessible for all, supporting CIWEMs international ambitions by tackling processes on a global level.

Our global water and environmental challenges need input from multi-disciplinary professionals and diverse communities across the world. We have members in over 89 countries, so our outreach is far and wide.

There is wisdom to be found from all cultures in every corner of the globe and this years’ theme focuses on embracing our differences, acknowledging our many similarities whilst we work together to seek solutions to some of the biggest challenges we have faced as a human race.

It is quite something that the start my year as CIWEM’s president coincides with COP28 taking place here in my home city of Dubai. My focus for the year of connecting a community inclusive and accessible for all, I’m encouraged to read, is very much the ambition behind this year’s COP too.

Whatever our views on the effectiveness of global climate summits, the issues we face today cannot be solved unless we all work together, irrespective of where we are in the world. Collaboration and sharing our successes as well as our struggles will give us opportunities to learn from each other’s achievements while learning lessons from our not so successful endeavours.

As CIWEM president, there are three things I hope to be able to achieve and promote:

  • Firstly, the importance of global knowledge sharing, and sharing stories and information from as many locations around the globe as possible.
  • Secondly, sharing success stories. We are all bombarded with stories of doom and gloom but there are also many wins that perhaps do not always get as much attention as they deserve. I would love to share stories of positive outcomes and solutions to give each one of us some hope that there is light at the end of this tunnel and that humans when we put our minds to it and put our heads together, can do wonderful things.
  • And finally, promoting tolerance. I hope to be able to encourage tolerance and harmony around the globe. We if we count the number of similarities, we all have, our differences start to look very small.

Being part of a community like CIWEM is powerful. We are a group of more than 11,000 professionals with the same passion for the environment but coming from very differing backgrounds, ranging from engineers, academics, scientists, and researchers.

That sense of community and working towards a common goal is very motivating for me. It gives me some degree of hope for the future that we are a growing number of people coming from multiple sectors from all corners of the world all working towards the same cause. Together, we can make a real difference, for people and the planet.

Meet the presidential team

What does connecting a community inclusive and accessible for all mean to you?

Junior President Emily Clarke FCIWEM, C.WEM is principal flood and coastal consultant for Binnies, based in East Anglia

I’m extremely proud to be one of the youngest ever CIWEM Fellows, recognising the contributions I’ve made to the sector. I have over ten years’ experience bridging the gap between Flood Risk Management and Water Utilities in the UK. Currently, I’m the strategic lead for the River Severn Adaptation Pathways Programme and Climate Resilience Strategy. My skillset is varied, including leading on technical work, project and programme management, and stakeholder engagement.

This sector is at the forefront of the climate crisis and ecological emergency, and I truly believe it is the most exciting sector to work in. We need diversity of thought, ideas, and experiences to bring about the much-needed change, action, and solutions required. Connectivity, inclusivity, and accessibility are critical in realising these shared goals.

It’s great to see so many people entering this sector as career changers. These people are transitioning from other sectors to support us in developing solutions to our changing climate. In our expanding sector I see increased diversity of thought, fresh eyes and ideas, and an injection of new and transferable skills helping us to innovate, as well as educate broader audiences.

I am a passionate advocate for equity, belonging, and balance work, otherwise known as Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. I volunteer significant amounts of my time to raising awareness of gender inequity and hidden disabilities (including neurodiversity).

My passion in this area has been fuelled by my own experiences of sexism, ageism, ableism, and discrimination faced within my career. I want to amplify the voices of those around me so that we may address these issues together. I believe we have a unique opportunity to raise awareness of these issues and to support people as we work to build a more diverse and inclusive sector.

I hope to elevate female leadership to inspire other emerging leaders. We need to look radically at our approach to the challenges that face us, and I truly believe amplifying the voices of all genders in our industry can give us a fresh new perspective. I would particularly like to further explore the research on gender dynamics in leadership, particularly in supporting grass roots community focused success stories to see what lessons the UK can learn from other nations.

This year’s theme will also enable me to continue the excellent work of my predecessors Emily Shipton and Matthew Jack in advocating for early career opportunities and professional development. I hope to support and promote connecting early-career professionals and those entering from other sectors with seasoned water and environmental management professionals to exchange and share information, knowledge, and stories.

President Elect Hannah Coogan FCIWEM C.WEM is regional delivery director for Binnies, based in the UK

Even after 20 years, I find every day at work interesting and rewarding. I feel lucky that I genuinely enjoy what I do and as I’ve progressed to become more senior that I can share my enthusiasm and knowledge with early career professionals. It also feels very rewarding to work in a sector where I can make a difference to people affected by environmental issues such as flooding and improve our environment for the benefit of our communities.

We face a global climate and ecological emergency. A global challenge requires worldwide thinking and sharing of solutions and best practise. It also requires courage and for professionals to pioneer approaches to adapt to our changing sea levels and climate. Being able to share this practice is incredibly valuable to ensure we are all learning from each other and innovating as quickly as we can to face the scale of the environmental challenge we face.

I am looking forward to supporting Bushra to widen my own, and my professional networks understanding of approaches around the world, with a view to influencing our approaches back in the UK, where I am based.

Junior President Elect Peter Rook MCIWEM C.WEM is chartered senior analyst and flood resilience team leader for JBA Consulting, based in the UK

I specialise in Flood Risk Management, specifically supporting Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) in delivering their statutory duties. I also work with Local Planning Authorities and in delivering Strategic Flood Risk Assessments, Flood Risk Assessments and Surface Water Drainage Strategies.

The announcement that the government intends to enact Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act makes this an exciting time to be working with Sustainable Drainage Systems. I am looking forward to understanding more about the implementation and supporting clients with adapting to these changes.

The environmental challenges we face are global and require integrated, multi-disciplinary solutions. I believe this can only be achieved through effective collaborative working practices. This year’s presidential theme emphasises the importance of collaboration and sharing the successes, innovative approaches, and lessons learned across the international community.

As Junior President Elect, I will work with the presidential team to improve the visibility of CIWEM as the professional institution of choice for those in the water and environmental sector and showcase career paths into industry for students and early career professionals.

Contact the presidential team at

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