John Anthony Allan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

John Anthony Allan (27 January 1937 – 15 April 2021), sometime cited as Tony Allan, was a British geographer. He was awarded the Stockholm Water Prize in 2008 for his revolutionary virtual water concept. Although being an emeritus of the School of Oriental and African Studies and King's College London of the University of London, he still acted as a teaching Professor at King's College London.


Allan studied at Durham University from 1955-1958, graduating with a first-class B.A in Geography.[1][2] He commenced doctoral studies in 1966 at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, completing a PhD on water management in Libya in 1971.[1]


Having been a long time water analyst with emphasis on the Middle East, he coined the term virtual water in 1993 after having been inspired by Gideon Fishelson from Tel Aviv University, who criticised his government over the amount of water that had been used to produce and export citrus fruits to the European Union. Allan then researched trade figures of Middle Eastern states to conclude that this water-scarce region was only able to survive through large quantities of food imports in grain, livestock etc. Thus, the region was not dependent on its own scarce water resources but could purchase water already embedded in agricultural produce. It was this logic that enabled Tony Allan to challenge the then prevailing thesis that the wars in the next century will be fought over water.[3][4][5] In essence he explained how the importation of water embedded mostly in cereals into water-scarce regions of the world via trade explained why wars over water were both unnecessary and unlikely.[6][7][8][9] This opened up a plethora of new research directions for his many graduate students working in water constrained parts of the world.[10][11][12][13][14] His seminal work entitled The Middle East Water Question: Hydropolitics and the Global Economy [15] captured a lifetime of research and has become a cornerstone for policy-makers and researchers. A significant contribution to this paradigm shift has been the emergence of the concept of benefit-sharing as opposed to water-sharing,[16][17] or the management of transboundary waters as a public good.[18][19]

Stockholm Water Prize[edit]

In March 2008, Allan was announced to receive the Stockholm Water Prize, which is the equivalent to an environmental Nobel Prize according to some commentators. The international nominated Allan for it due to 'his unique, pioneering and long lasting work in education and raising the awareness internationally of the interdisciplinary relationships between agricultural production, water use, economies and political processes'.[20]


  1. ^ a b "Prof. John Anthony Allan". Real Academia de Ciencias. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  2. ^ "University of Durham Gazette". 5 (6). 10 September 1958: 6. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Anderson, E.W. 1988. Water: The Next Strategic Resource, in Starr & Stoll (Eds.), 1988. The Politics of Scarcity: Water in the Middle East. London: Westview Press.
  4. ^ Starr, R. 1991. Water Wars, in Foreign Policy, No. 82, Spring; 17-36.
  5. ^ Andelman, D.A., Pauker, B., & Simon, J. 2009. Water Wars? A Talk with Ismail Serageldin, in World Policy Journal, Vol. 26, No. 4; 25-31.
  6. ^ Allan, J.A. 1997. ‘Virtual water’: A Long Term Solution for Water Short Middle Eastern Economies. British Association Festival of Science. University of Leeds. 9 September 1997.
  7. ^ Allan, J.A. 1998. ‘Virtual water’: An Essential Element in Stabilizing the Political Economies of the Middle East. Yale University Forestry & Environmental Studies Bulletin, No. 103; 141-149.
  8. ^ Allan, J.A. 1999. Avoiding War over Natural Resources. In Fleming, S. (Ed.) War and Water. Geneva: ICRC Publication Division.
  9. ^ Allan, J.A. 2002. Water Resources in Semi-Arid Regions: Real Deficits and Economically Invisible and Politically Silent Solutions, in Turton, A.R. & Henwood, R. (Eds.) Hydropolitics in the Developing World: A Southern African Perspective. Pretoria: African Water Issues Research Unit (AWIRU). Pp 23 – 36.
  10. ^ Nicol, A. 1999. Contested Margins: Water Resources, Decentralization and the State in the Awash Valley, Ethiopia 1985 – 1998. Ph.D. Thesis, SOAS, University of London.
  11. ^ Nicol, A. 2002. The Dynamics of River Basin Cooperation: The Nile and Okavango Basins. In Turton, A.R., Ashton, P.J. & Cloete, E. (Eds.) Transboundary Rivers, Sovereignty and Development: Hydropolitical Drivers in the Okavango River Basin. Pretoria & Geneva: African Water Issues Research Unit (AWIRU) and Green Cross International (GCI). Pp 167 – 186.
  12. ^ Turton, A.R. 1998. The Hydropolitics of Southern Africa: The Case of the Zambezi River Basin as an Area of Potential Co-operation Based on Allan’s Concept of ‘Virtual Water’. Unpublished M.A. Dissertation, Department of International Politics, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa.
  13. ^ Turton. A.R. 2000. Water Wars in Southern Africa: Challenging Conventional Wisdom. In Solomon, H. & Turton. A.R. (Eds.) Water Wars: An Enduring Myth or Impending Reality? African Dialogue Monograph Series No. 2. Durban: Accord Publishers. ISSN 1562-7004.
  14. ^ Wolf, A.T. 1998. Conflict and Cooperation along International Waterways, in Water Policy (1); 251-265.
  15. ^ Allan, J.A. 2000. The Middle East Water Question: Hydropolitics and the Global Economy. London: IB Tauris.
  16. ^ Phillips, D.J.H., J.A. Allan, M. Claassen, J. Granit, A. Jägerskog, E. Kistin, M. Patrick and A.R. Turton. 2008. The Transcend-TB3 Project: A Methodology for the Trans-boundary Waters Opportunity Analysis (the TWO Analysis). Prepared for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sweden. Available at:
  17. ^ Phillips, D.J.H., Allan, J.A., Claassen, M., Granit, J., Jägerskog, A., Kistin, E., Patrick, M. & Turton, A.R. 2008. The TWO Analysis: Introducing a Methodology for the Transboundary Waters Opportunity Analysis. Report No. 23. Stockholm: Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). ISBN 978-91-975872-3-5. Available online at
  18. ^ Nicol, A., van Steenbergen, F., Sunman, H., Turton, A.R., Slaymaker, T., Allan, J.A., de Graaf, M. & van Harten, M. 2001. Transboundary Water Management as an International Public Good. Stockholm: Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ISBN 91-7496-250-7.
  19. ^ Turton, A.R., Nicol, A. & Alan, J.A. 2003. Policy Options for Water Stressed States: Emerging Lessons from the Middle East and Southern Africa. Pretoria & London: African Water Issues Research Unit & Overseas Development Institute.
  20. ^ "2008 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate, Professor John Anthony Allan, Great Britain". Stockholm International Water Institute. Retrieved 26 February 2013.