Rowan, John

Professor, UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy & Science

1989 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile


Director of the UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy & Science since 2022 with a mandate is to advance sustainable and equitable development, with particular focus on SDG6: 'Ensuring access to water and sanitation for all'.  For the five years prior, he was Vice Principal Research, Knowledge Exchange & Wider Impact with overall institutional responsibility for research strategy and excellence in academic performance. 

John is a Professor of Physical Geography, with expertise in the study of environmental change. His systems-based work on climate change and its impacts on water, food, energy and biodiversity has a strong policy focus. Current collaborations extend across multiple countries, e.g., Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Zimbabwe and Kenya. His strong national profile is reflected in various recent and current advisory roles, including serving on the Board of Scottish Government’s Centres of Expertise in Climate Change (CXC) and Centre for Research on Water (CREW) and Steering Group for the Hydro Nation Scholars Programme.

John has been at the University of Dundee since 1998. He was Founding Director of the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience (CECHR), a strategic and highly successful partnership with the James Hutton Institute, established to tackle interdisciplinary challenges around food, water, energy and health security. He was the inaugural Dean of the multidisciplinary School of Social Sciences created through restructuring in 2015 amalgamating the Schools of Environment, Business, Natural Resources, Psychology and Law.



Research expertise on water resources and different aspects of river basin management including erosion and sedimentation issues, environmental change, governance and ecohydrology.


Global resources, ecosystem services and water resources management

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


  • GB Physical geography
  • GE Environmental Sciences
  • QE Geology


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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