A farewell to the late John Briscoe, 2014 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate
Professor John Briscoe passed away on November 12, 2014, after having fought cancer for more than two years.
In March this year, he was named the 2014 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate, “for his unparalleled contributions to global and local water management, inspired by an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of people on the ground.”
As the Swedish summer was moving into autumn, John Briscoe came to Stockholm and World Water Week. He held speeches, and participated in debates with peers as well as inquisitive young professionals, always accompanied by his characteristic wit, curiosity and fondness for controversial statements.
At the Stockholm Water Prize Royal Ceremony in Stockholm’s City Hall on September 4, Margaret Catley-Carlson gave the laudatory speech on behalf of the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee. We publish an excerpt:
“Even among the illustrious Laureates of the Stockholm Water Prize over the last two decades, John Briscoe stands tall. He is truly one of the water greats. In his career lifetime, he has inspired, led, persuaded, annoyed and upset, but above all – influenced major players and principal developments in the global management of water. Few, if any, have had his impact on national and international policies and on the directions of major investments in our sector. There are perhaps three reasons for the extraordinary esteem in which he is held.
First, John Briscoe is very good at what he does. Diligence, knowledge and experience combine with a good deal of very hard work. (…)
Second, his is truly a holistic view of water issues. He passionately believes that good policy is an essential backstop for good governance which underpins well performing systems. He godfathered the Global Water Partnership to bring water policy people together across the world. (…)
Third, John tells it as he sees it. This tendency has strengthened over the years. Whether setting out for the Government of Pakistan exactly where their water policies are taking the country, or convincing the management and – more difficult by far – the Executive Directors of the World Bank that no country has ever developed without infrastructure, John has spoken out. (…)
John, we are in the land of the Norsemen. Wise King Canute took his followers to the Ocean to show them that no man could change the power of the water’s flow. But some can guide and change the direction of impact of that flow – and make waves. The waves you have made have been big waves. It is for this reason that the 2014 Stockholm International Water Prize is awarded to you.”