MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2003

Peter H. Gleick

Water Conservation Specialist

Co-Founder and President

Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security

Oakland, California

Age: 46 at time of award

Published October 5, 2003
Portrait of Peter H. Gleick

Peter Gleick is a conservation analyst and a leader in efforts to underscore the importance and finite nature of global fresh water resources. While water policy is typically considered in many contexts, each tends to be limited in scope: human consumption, ecological habitat, irrigation, power generation, etc. Gleick brings to these considerations a synthetic approach, highlighting the interdependence of security, health, environment, and economic development and the place of water as critical nexus between and among these key sectors. Gleick is a founder of the Pacific Institute, a center for research and policy on water and climate change. He and the Institute serve regularly as thoughtful and reliable sources for scientific analyses on policy issues related to water, water availability, water quality and water needs in the interest of global security, development and the environment. He publishes The World’s Water, a biennial review of data critical to fresh water analyses. He maintains a project studying the role water has played, past and present, in shaping international conflict. He regularly analyzes policy proposals and decisions, consistently addressing the current politics of water with its emphases on creating new water supplies (e.g., dam construction) over decreasing consumption and more efficient uses of existing resources. Throughout, Gleick argues that access to sufficient quality and quantity of water is a basic right, an essential consideration at the core of local, national, and international fresh water policy. By defragmenting the social, political, economic, and environmental considerations determining water resource development and allocation, Gleick has established a standard and a framework for water policy decisions today and in the future.

Peter Gleick received a B.S. (1978) from Yale University, and an M.S. (1980) and a Ph.D. (1986) from the University of California, Berkeley. In 1987, Gleick co-founded the Pacific Institute of Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California, and currently serves as president. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including The World's Water: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources (1998, 2000, 2002). Gleick was elected an Academician of the International Water Academy, in Oslo, Norway (1999) and appointed to the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academy of Sciences (2001).


High-resolution photos for download. Photos are owned by the MacArthur Foundation and licensed under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY. Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Right-click on a link below to save the file to your computer.

Peter H. Gleick In the Media

"Iowa's Drinking Water: Could Flint Happen Here?" thumbnail

"Iowa's Drinking Water: Could Flint Happen Here?"

Iowa Public Radio
Peter H. Gleick , 2003 MacArthur Fellow
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"The Future of the World's Groundwater" thumbnail

"The Future of the World's Groundwater"

The Desert Sun
Peter H. Gleick , 2003 MacArthur Fellow
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"One Step to Help Restore Trust in Flint"

Detroit Free Press
Peter H. Gleick , 2003 MacArthur Fellow
Marc Edwards, 2007 MacArthur Fellow
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"Interview: Peter Gleick" thumbnail

"Interview: Peter Gleick"

Brown Political Review
Peter H. Gleick , 2003 MacArthur Fellow
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"California Cuts Farmers’ Share of Scant Water" thumbnail

"California Cuts Farmers’ Share of Scant Water"

The New York Times
Peter H. Gleick , 2003 MacArthur Fellow
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About the Fellows Program

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. Learn More

Ellen Bryant Voigt, Poet

Class of 2015