Visiting Professor of Environmental Health
John Briscoe is a Professor of Environmental Engineering at Harvard University where he directs the Harvard Water Security Initiative and is on the faculty of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, School of Public Health and Kennedy School of Government. He has been nominated by Harvard students for the Joseph Levenson Prize “to recognize exceptional teaching of undergraduates”, the Marquand Award for “exceptional advising and counseling of Harvard students”, and the Star Prize for “exceptional mentoring of students. He was awarded a Hauser Grant for Innovation in Learning and Teaching from Harvard University.
His career has focused on the issues of water, other natural resources and economic development. He has worked: as an engineer in the government water agencies of South Africa and Mozambique; as an epidemiologist at the Cholera Research Center in Bangladesh; as a professor of water resources at the University of North Carolina. In his 20-year career at the World Bank he held high-level technical positions (as the Bank’s Senior Water Advisor) and managerial positions (Country Director for Brazil, the World Bank’s biggest borrower). Mr. Briscoe’s role in shaping the governance and strategy of the World Bank is the subject of a chapter in the definitive recent history of the Bank, Sebastian Mallaby’s The World’s Banker (Penguin, 2006).
He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering at Harvard University in 1976 and his B.Sc. in Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town, South Africa in 1969. In addition to his native South Africa, he has lived in the United State, Bangladesh, Mozambique, India and Brazil. He speaks English, Afrikaans, Bengali, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Briscoe was a founding member of the major global water partnerships, including the World Water Council, the Global Water Partnership, and the World Commission on Dams. He has served on the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academy of Sciences and the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum and currently serves as a member of the Council of Distinguished Water Professionals of the International Water Association and on the Advisory Board of the Center for Global Development and the International Advisory Board of the Indian Council for Environment, Energy and Water.
His recent consultancies include for the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Asian Development Bank, the Friends of Democratic Pakistan, the US National Intelligence Council, the National Water Commission of Australia, the Government of Chile, the OECD, McKinsey, Nestle, Inbev and The Nature Conservancy. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development. He has published extensively in the media and in professional economic, finance, environmental, health and engineering journals.
He has been awarded the Grande Medalha da Inconfidência, one of Brazil’s highest awards. He has also received President’s Award of the International Water Association and the Stroud Prize for Excellence in Water. He is the 2014 Laureate for the Stockholm Water Prize, widely known as “the Nobel Prize for Water”.