A pioneer in the development of key concepts in the understanding and communication of water issues and how they are linked to agriculture, climate change, economics and politics, Tony Allan was named the 2008 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate on 19 March 2008.

Tony Allan’s research focuses on the social and political contexts which influence and usually determine water use and water policy. The research aims to explain why environmental and economic priorities fail to figure on the agenda of those using and allocating water. The major current research focus takes into account the underlying fundamentals of water in the hydrological cycle and the impact of engineering interventions. Policy issues are a prime concern and especially the difficulties that scientists and professionals encounter in gaining a place for their ‘knowledge’ in water policy discourses. In the Middle East and North Africa – a major regional focus of research – it has been shown that the water crisis has been ameliorated through the availability of virtual water embedded in the international food trade.

A second research focus is global water resource and the extent to which global resources will be sufficient to meet the needs of future populations. A third research focus is the institutional basis of water policy reform. A fourth is the financing of the water sector. The KCL Water Research Group networks intensively with scientists and professionals in the water sector in the North and the South. The group is recognised both as a major innovator of economic, social and political interdisciplinary theory and as a serious contributor to water policy analysis.

In 1993, Professor Allan made a major breakthrough in how to demonstrate the measurement of water that is embedded in the production of foods and industrial products, by introducing the concept of “virtual water.”