Panel and networking event: Creating decentralized and holistic WASH solutions for small communities

Thursday, May 25, 2023 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Room 260 - 499 George Street, Prince George, B.C.
Wood Innovation and Design Centre

This event is a unique opportunity to create long-lasting relationships with the four main groups that will collaborate (academia, industry, government, and civil society), share your insights, and learn from others by creating resilience-focused, people-centred innovations with people from around the world.

We will focus on the 3 P’s: People, planet and prosperity!

Be part of a revolution in sustainable water and sanitation solutions.

Event hosted by UNBC´s WASH-T (Water and Sanitation Holistic Technologies) Research Group

“Science in Action for Sustainable and Resilient Solutions”


Registration is now open. Food will be provided, so be sure to register! We will also be hosting a post event mixer at CrossRoads Brewing and Distillery. All are welcome to attend.

Speaker and presenter biographies

Lilly WolfensbergerLilly Wolfensberger

Masters in Design, Architecture and Sustainable Construction
UMA, Universidad del Medio Ambiente

I have dedicated the past 30 years of my life to sustainability. My main education came from working with the NGO GRUPEDSAC - Group to Promote  Education and Sustainable Development - on projects to integrate a large variety of sustainable practices throughout Mexico. In 2006, I purchased a severely eroded piece of land in the semi-arid zone of Tlaxco, to transform it into a vibrant and sustainable home for myself. In 2012, I enrolled in the first class at UMA and used my land as the case study for my Master’s Thesis. It focused on integral rainwater management and soil regeneration and I used various eco-technologies, natural building techniques, and regenerative technologies to promote biodiversity and mitigate climate change on the land.

We implemented a variety of small-scale water conservation practices. We built cisterns to capture up to 320,000 liters of rainwater for human consumption and irrigation, and reservoirs for infiltration and irrigation of the same quantity of stormwater. In addition, we built a water treatment system, with biodigesters to treat blackwater, and a variety of biofilters to further purify greywater for irrigation. To conserve the humidity in the soil, we implemented an assortment of soil improvement techniques including mulch, compost, biocarbon, mycorrhizae, nitrogen fixing vegetation, etc..

Climate change has severely impacted the rainy season in Mexico, and our land has suffered greatly from drastic reductions in annual rainfall. We now have to reconsider how we can integrate these changes to further sustain and regenerate this land.

Dr. Yu ChenDr. Yu Chen

PhD in sociology (University of Texas)
MA in Latin American studies (University of Texas)

Dr. Yu Chen is a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre for Global Engineering (CGEN), University of Toronto, Canada. He received his PhD in sociology and MA in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at Austin, USA. His research bridges sustainable urban/ housing development, community-based eco-technology, and environmental justice, with a geographical focus on Latin America, Canada, and China. Yu Chen has conducted ethnographic research in Mexico, Cuba and China. Currently, he is leading CGEN's interdisciplinary research initiative "Sustainable Peri-Urbanization", in which he helps to develop collaborative projects with academic institutions and non-profit organizations in Latin America to address sustainability challenges in the rapidly expanding peri-urban areas. A featured project under this initiative is a research collaboration with Mexico's Isla Urbana on rainwater harvesting, with focus on household adoption of the rainwater harvesting technology, safe management of the captured rainwater, and knowledge mobilization around decentralized WASH solutions between Indigenous Communities in Mexico and in Canada.

Dr. Karima FredjDr. Karima Fredj

Associate Professor, School of Economics at UNBC

Dr. Karima Fredj mainly specializes in Environmental and Resource Economics, Optimal Control Theory, and Game Theory. Dr. Fredj received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Management Sciences from the University of Tunis II (Tunisia), and her Master’s and PhD in Economics from the University of Montreal.

Cindy SmithCindy Smith

Professor of Environmental Microbiology, James Watt School of Engineering, University of Glasgow

Her research sits at the interface of environmental engineering and microbiology where she applies her expertise and extensive knowledge of state-of-the-art molecular approaches and microbial processes in the natural environment and engineered systems to develop sustainable water treatment solutions. Currently, she holds a Royal Academy of Engineering-Scottish Water Research Chair in ‘Biofiltration by Biological Design’. The focus of this fellowship is to deliver sustainable low-cost, low-energy, drinking water treatment solutions for rural Scotland and beyond, by harnessing and directing natural microbial processes to develop enhanced biological treatment of water.


Royal Academy of Engineering logoWe are extremely fortunate to have the support of the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) without whom we would not be able to host such an event.

We would also like to thank UNBC and the School of Engineering, along with the Wood Innovation and Design Centre (WIDC).

Contact Information

If you have any questions, please contact the organizing team:

Marianella Hernandez
Assistant Coordinator

Lexy Green
Assistant Coordinator

Flor Yunuen Garcia Becerra
Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering, UNBC

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