Presidents address - Innovating for the future, New York

25 September, 2015 | 10:00 - 11:00

Presidents address - Innovating for the future, New York

About this event

The world faces major challenges for the future: climate change, population growth, resource depletion, poverty and economic instability.

This presentation will set out how civil engineers might adapt to play the key role they need to play in tackling these challenges. So that the world has infrastructure that is resilient, adaptable and available to all. It will demonstrate why civil engineers need to be more innovative, and how this might be achieved in practice.

In particular it will deal with the specific enablers and blockers to innovation and will suggest how civil engineers globally might work on an agenda for change.

Event materials

The following materials are available for download:


Professor David Balmforth

Professor David Balmforth is an Executive Technical Director with the international engineering company MWH, which he joined in 1999. He is an accomplished civil engineer specialising in flood risk management and urban pollution control.

He is currently working on the delivery of £multi-million engineering programmes for water company clients in the UK, and is advising Thames Water, the Greater London Authority and the Singapore Government on flood risk management strategies.

David started his professional life as a bridge and highway design engineer in the UK before moving into academia in 1970. Here he developed a research interest in urban drainage and pollution control. His work focussed on combined sewer overflows (CSOs) at a time when these were a major contributor to deteriorating river quality. His novel approach to CSO design1 was recognised by him exhibiting at the Design Centre in London.

He has published widely and is internationally recognised for his work. He served as a non-executive director for the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) for 10 years.

In the 1990s he moved back into professional practice where he developed the current industry standards for CSO design2. To date over 1000 structures have been successfully delivered to his designs. More recently his expertise extended into urban flood risk management and water quality modelling. He developed a particular interest in climate change adaptation and mitigation and has advised municipalities around the world on these topics.

David led the urban modelling team that helped produce the UK Government's 2004 Foresight project on Climate Change, Floods and Coastal Defence3. He was a pioneer of Integrated Urban Drainage4 and worked with UK Government to help formulate their approach to urban flood risk management. In particular he has been responsible for the shift in industry thinking from flood defence to flood resilience, and was principal author for CIRIA's seminal work on Designing for Exceedance5.

Following the 2007 floods he was appointed to the advisory panel for the UK Government's Pitt Review6 and also served on its expert scientific advisory panel. He was also a member of their Strategy Group on Engineering, Infrastructure and Climate Change Adaptation, and an independent advisor to the UK Environment Agency7, and to OFWAT8, the water industry regulator.

During the late 2000s his work extended into the development of low carbon solutions for upgrading sewerage systems and sewage treatment works across the South of England where a number of schemes he has been responsible for have received industry awards.

David has served for three years on the editorial panel of Institution of Civil Engineer's Water Management Journal and was editor of Wiley-Blackwell's Journal of Flood Risk Management for seven years. He is a frequent media commentator on flood risk management and currently is a visiting professor at Imperial College, London and President of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

  1. Balmforth DJ and Cootes TF – "Field Testing of Prototype Vortex Combined Sewer Overflow with Peripheral Spill", New Technologies in Urban Drainage, Elsevier, 1991.
  2. Balmforth D J and Saul A J, "Design of CSO Chambers to Incorporate Screens", CIWEM Urban Drainage Group (formerly WaPUG), 2001.
  3. Foresight Project "Future Floods and Coastal Defence", Government Office of Science and Technology, 2004.
  4. Balmforth, D., Digman, C.J., Shaffer, P. and Butler, D, "Integrated Urban Drainage Scoping Study", Report, Defra, London, 2006.
  5. Balmforth, D., Digman, C., Kellagher, R., and Butler, D, "Designing for Exceedance in Urban Drainage – Good Practice". Report No. C635, CIRIA, London, 2006.
  6. Pitt, M, "Learning Lessons from the 2007 Floods", (The Pitt Review), Cabinet Office, London, June 2008.
  7. Balmforth DJ and Digman CJ, Butler D and Schaffer P, "Setting a Research Framework for Integrated Urban Drainage", Science Report SC070064, UK Environment Agency, September 2010.
  8. Balmforth DJ, "Comparing the Arrangements for the Management of Surface Water in England and Wales to Arrangements in Other Countries", Report, OFWAT, January 2011.