Dr. Olcay Ünver is a global leader in water policy. He is a Professor of Practice at Environmental and Resource Management Program at Arizona State University, Industry Fellow at Australian Rivers Institute, and a Water Policy Group member. He served as Vice-Chair of UN-Water from 2018 to 2020. In his public service career spanning three decades, he led FAO’s water programs and activities, UN-Water’s World Water Assessment Program, and UNESCO’s Program Office on Global Water Assessment. Prior to joining the United Nations, he was a Distinguished Professor of Water Resources at Kent State University, Ohio, and President of the Southeastern Anatolia Project in Turkey, where he transformed a large infrastructure project into a sustainable socio-economic development program.
In 1999, Dr. Ünver was listed among the 19 “European Visionaries” by Time magazine and was featured in The New York Times for his efforts toward sustainable, human-centered development. He served as Secretary-General and Vice-President of IWRA and Governor and Treasurer of World Water Council. He has served on boards and committees involving water, sustainable development, sustainable food and agriculture systems, water cooperation, and policy. Olcay holds Civil Engineering degrees that include a Ph.D. in Water Resources Planning and Management, a Master’s in Urban Hydrology and a Bachelor’s with a Hydraulics Focus.
His areas of competence include water and food security, bridging across global frameworks, governance of water-land-soil resources, and water cooperation. Olcay is an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems and on the Water Security Journal (Elsevier) and Future of Food Journal (Kassel University, Germany) editorial boards. He is a NATO Scholar, IWRA (International Water Resources Association) Fellow, and a TUBITAK (Turkish Scientific & Technical Research Council) Honor Fellow. He is the recipient of the World Water Council’s Special Service Award and IWRA Millennium Award.