Newswise — Under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), NYU Tandon School of Engineering is co-organizing and hosting the inaugural Metropolitan Water Research & Innovation Workshop (WRI), an initiative of the Euro-North American Region (ENAR) of UNESCO’s Megacities Alliance for Water and Climate (MAWaC). 

The NYC Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) and NYC Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) — via its Town+Gown program — serve as WRI’s other co-organizers. 

Taking place March 20 and 21 at NYU Tandon's Brooklyn campus, WRI brings together Tandon faculty, government officials, utility executives, researchers and NGOs from New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, and London. 

Workshop participants are exploring inter-city collaboration in the development, demonstration and early-deployment monitoring of solutions to climate-related water challenges faced by megacities in North America and Europe. MAWaC promotes experience-sharing and innovation in climate adaptation for sustainable and resilient water ecosystems in some of the world’s biggest cities. 

“NYU Tandon, with its emphasis on urban research with NYC infrastructure agencies and its global network of international collaborations with the world megacities, is particularly well positioned to support the development of innovative urban climate  resiliency solutions and accelerate their deployment monitoring for facing the existential challenges of metropolitan ecosystems sustainability and the ever-growing effects of the climate change crisis,” said MAWaC-ENAR Acting Secretary Ilan Juran, NYU Tandon Professor (retired 2021) and former head of the Civil and Urban Engineering Department.  “The inter-city WRI collaboration among the ENAR megacities will mutually support NYU Tandon’s current research programs and aligns well with the goals of MAWaC.” 

Sustainability is one of NYU Tandon’s seven foundational “Areas of Excellence” that structure its interdisciplinary research and define its institutional priorities.

“MAWaC’s mission is in lockstep with that of NYU Tandon, and it’s a privilege to join together on this important workshop,” said Jelena Kovačević, Dean of NYU Tandon. “We launched the Sustainability Engineering Initiative last year, for example, to create an atmosphere in which our researchers and educators collaborate on engineering solutions to the pressing challenges of climate change and environmental contamination. Working with Professor Juran and the MAWaC provides another way to move those efforts forward.”

Workshop participants are attending sessions with distinguished experts from around the world, including NYU Tandon professors:

  • Andrea Silverman, assistant professor in the department of Civil and Urban Engineering, who will speak on her work in flood management. Silverman co-directs FloodNet, a flood monitoring system created in partnership with CUNY Graduate Center and Brooklyn College that is part of NYU Tandon’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), an interdisciplinary research center that leverages New York City as a testing ground to advance solutions that enhance the quality of life for urban communities worldwide. Floodnet received initial funding through C2SMART — a U.S. Department of Transportation Tier 1 Transportation center at NYU Tandon — and the State of New York. Most recently FloodNet received $7.2 million in city funding. As part of New York Water Week, Silverman is also taking part in a NYCDEP FloodNet workshop on March 21 and a symposium on integrated water management for urban stormwater and coastal resiliency on March 24.  Previously, Silverman worked with the NYCDEP on monitoring city wastewater for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). 
  • Maurizo Porfiri, institute professor in the departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, who will discuss research and academics at CUSP, where he serves as Director. 
  • Mohsen Hossein, industry professor in the department of Civil and Urban Engineering and Director of its PhD program, who will share environmental faculty research, focusing on sustainable metropolitan water systems. 

NYCDCC’s Town+Gown,  a WRI co-organizer,  is a NYC university-community partnership program, which was contractually established to bring together academics and practitioners with city agencies, and to accelerate project financing for research tailored to the agencies. It originated in the 1990s with Juran’s support and currently involves 15 universities.

Terri Matthews, Director of Town+Gown, is sharing a report at WRI summarizing the more-than-40 current water-related research programs of universities in the program. The report highlights the academic capacity to efficiently leverage resources and engage multi-disciplinary expertise in response to climate-adaptation challenges of NYC agencies.  

Other participants in WRI include executives and technical experts from NYCDEP and NYCDDC, along with their peers from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater ChicagoMetropolitan Water District of Southern CaliforniaLondon Office of the Mayor, Urban Planning Department of the City of Paris, the U.S. Department of Energy and many other organizations. Also attending are faculty and researchers from leading universities in the megacities involved, including NYU, Stanford, UCLA, Imperial College of London,  University of Paris Est and Creteil (U-PEC), the School of Engineering of the City of Paris, University of Chicago, and Northwestern. 

WRI is supported by NGOs including the Paris ARCEAU-IdF Association and the W-SMART association of water and wastewater management utilities for sustainable water security. An official UNESCO-associated partner, W-SMART was co-founded in the aftermath of 9/11 by the Commissioner of NYCDEP and Juran as its executive director. 

Since its inception by UNESCO in 2015, MAWaC has served as a platform for officials from the world's largest cities to collaborate and exchange ideas on managing water-related services, propose solutions, and obtain technical and financial support for programs and projects. 

MAWaC operates globally through four regional initiatives, including the Euro-North American Region. According to Juran, the inaugural WRI is designed to serve as a blueprint for future MAWaC events in its other regions: Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa. 

WRI is part of New York Water Week, a series of events supporting the United Nations 2023 Water Conference taking place at UN headquarters from March 22 to 24. The conference aims to promote international cooperation and collaboration to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 6, which is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. 


About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering
The NYU Tandon School of Engineering is home to a community of renowned faculty and undergraduate and graduate students united in a mission to understand and create technology that powers cities, enables worldwide communication, fights climate change, and builds healthier, safer, and more equitable real and digital worlds. The school’s culture centers on encouraging rigorous, interdisciplinary collaboration and research; fostering inclusivity, entrepreneurial thinking, and diverse perspectives; and creating innovative and accessible pathways for lifelong learning in STEM, from K12 to executive education and new advances in digital learning.

NYU Tandon dates back to 1854, the founding year of both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. Those institutions evolved independently before merging in 2014 to create what is now known as NYU Tandon. Located in the heart of Brooklyn, NYU Tandon is a vital part of NYU's New York campus and unparalleled global network. For more information, visit