Project Lead

Oliver M. Brandes

Oliver M. Brandes is an economist and lawyer by training and interdisciplinary by design. He is the co-director of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, based at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies, where he leads the award-winning POLIS Water Sustainability Project. His work focuses on water sustainability, watershed security, resource management, wildfire resilience, public policy development, and ecologically based legal and institutional reform.

Oliver is the associate director at the Centre for Global Studies and an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Public Administration and Faculty of Law, where he is also a fellow of the Environmental Law Centre. He also has affiliations at the University of Manitoba and Brock University.

As an advisor to the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, Oliver supports the ongoing development of the provincial Water Sustainability Act and Watershed Security Strategy and Fund. He also provides ongoing advisory support to the provincial government and Indigenous nations on issues of governance and water law related to watershed governance pilots and planning projects across the province, including in the Koksilah, Cowichan, Skeena, Nicola, Hullcar, and Coquitlam watersheds. 

Working in various settings, including scholarly, community, and expert practitioner forums, Oliver is a regular speaker and actively drives public dialogue and champions water sustainability and watershed security. This included chairing and planning the decade-long series of innovative biennial national Watersheds forums, which ran from 2012 to 2020. 

In 2012, Oliver co-developed B.C.’s first water law course at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. In 2017, he was appointed to lead an independent expert review on source drinking water protection in B.C. This review resulted in regulatory change and informed the Auditor General of British Columbia’s work on drinking water.

Oliver is also a founding member, and current chair, of the national Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW), and an advisor to numerous national, provincial, and local governments, water funders, and water organizations, including the First Nations Fisheries Council, Freshwater Legacy Initiative, the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources, and the Cowichan Watershed Board.