John Briscoe


John Briscoe

Distinguished Pioneer

Professional background

John Briscoe (1948-2015), a native of South Africa, earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Cape Town in 1969, an M.S. in environmental engineering in 1972, and a Ph.D. in environmental engineering at Harvard University in 1976. Before coming to Harvard, he worked as an engineer in the government water agencies of South Africa and Mozambique; an epidemiologist at the Cholera Research Center, now ICDDR,B in Bangladesh; a professor of water resources at the University of North Carolina; and, for 20 years, at the World Bank, focusing on water resources, irrigation, hydropower, and sanitation.

Major contributions to IWA

John’s career and fields of service transcended the divide between high- and low-income countries in all aspect of water.  He served as a unique and invaluable senior advisor to IWSA/IAWQ and IWA, in their continuing attempts to reach out, and through their members, make meaningful contributions to the advancement of water and sanitation in developing countries.  In addition, and of great importance to IWA, John served as one of the principal liaisons between IWA, the World Bank and other key multi-lateral institutions.

John was a participant in and contributor to IWSA’s and IAWQ’s biennial congresses throughout the 1980-2004 period (before and after IWSA and IAWQ’s merger that created IWA.  For example, he delivered IWA Grand Award Keynote to IWA’s 2004 World Water Congress in Morocco. John served as key member of both the IWA Council of Distinguished Water Professionals and an IWA Distinguished Fellow and was awarded the IWA President’s Award in 2009, prior to receiving The Stockholm Water Prize in 2014.

Author:  Paul D Reiter

Sources: Professional background adapted from John Briscoe Wiki Site