John Briscoe

John Briscoe

  • Visiting Professor of Environmental Engineering
  • Adjunct Faculty Member, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
  • Director, Harvard Water Initiative
  • Faculty Associate, Harvard University Center for the Environment


Contact Information

Office:107-B Pierce Hall
Office Phone:(617) 496-0944
Assistant:Julianna Braun
Assistant Office:Pierce 126
Assistant Phone:617-495-0627

Primary Teaching Area

Environmental Science & Engineering

Positions & Employment

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

  • 2009-Current: Professor

The World Bank

  • 2005-2008: Country Director for Brazil

The World Bank

  • 1996-2005: Senior Water Advisor

The World Bank, Water and Sanitation Division

  • 1990-1996: Chief

The World Bank, Brazil Department

  • 1988-1999: Senior Economist

The World Bank, Water Supply and Urban Development Department

  • 1986-1987: Consultant

School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at, Chapel Hill

  • 1981-1987: Assistant/Associate Professor

National Directorate of Water, Mozambique

  • 1979-1981: Water Engineer

Harvard Division of Applied Sciences

  • 1978-1979: Research Fellow

OXFAM, Bangladesh

  • 1978: Advisor

Epidemiology Division, Cholera Research Laboratory, Bangaldesh

  • 1976-1977: Epidemiologist

Harvard School of Public Health and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • 1976: Research Scientist

Harvard/India Water Resources Program, Harvard University

  • 1973-1975: Project Coordinator

Department of Water Affairs, South Africa

  • 1970: Planning Engineer

Niham Shand and Company, Consulting Engineers

  • 1969: Engineer-in-training

John Mowlem Company

  • 1968: Trainee

ESCOM (the South African Electric Company)

  • 1967: Trainee

Other Experience & Professional Membership

  • Registered Professional Engineer (South Africa, No. 848025)
  • Founding member of the major global water partnerships. These include the World Water Council, the Global Water Partnership, and the World Commission on Dams
  • Served for six years on the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Research Council
  • Member of the International Water Association’s Council of Distinguished Water Professionals
  • Member of the UNEP Advisory Board on Water
  • Member of the Murray Darling Basin Authority Advisory Council
  • Member of the World Economic Forum (Davos) Global Agenda Council on Water
  • Provided advisory and consulting services for many institutions in the private sector, government and non-profit sectors.  Recent clients include McKinsey and Company, Exxon, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Murray Darling Basin Authority, the Australian National Water Commission, the Commission of Enquiry into the 2010 Pakistan Floods, and the National Intelligence Council of the United States.


  • Nominated by students for the Harvard University Joseph Levenson award to recognize exceptional teaching of undergraduates, 2010
  • The President’s Award from the International Water Association, 2009
  • Grande Medalha de Inconfidencia, one of Brazil’s highest civilian honors, 2009
  • Harvard University Fellowship, 1974
  • Clemons Herschel Prize (awarded annually to the outstanding graduating student in Environmental Engineering), Harvard University, 1974
  • University Medals in Hydraulics, Hydrology, Transportation, Highways, Soil Mechanics and Thesis, University of Cape Town, 1968
  • City of Cape Town Gold Medal as Best Graduating Engineering Student at the University, 1968
  • South African Steel Institute Award for Best Structural Design, 1968
  • E. Oliver Ashe Scholarship for Post-Graduate Study, 1968
  • Cape Town City Scholarship for Post-Graduate Study, 1968
  • University Medal in Mathematics, University of Cape Town, 1967
  • Electricity Supply Commission Bursary, University of Cape Town, 1966-69
  • Alan Spiers Memorial Bursary, University of Cape Town,1965
  • Max Michaelis Scholarship, University of Cape Town,1965
  • Barney Barnato Scholarship, University of Cape Town,1965