John H. Matthews, PhD.

Executive Director

Alliance for Global Water Adaptation

Senior Water Fellow

Colorado Water Center

Fields of Expertise

Climate Science, Ecology, Hydrology, Water Management and Planning

Areas of Interest



John H. Matthews is the Executive Director and co-founder of AGWA. His work blends technical and policy knowledge for climate adaptation and water management for practical implementation. John has worked on five continents and more than 30 countries and published in many policy, scientific and technical journals and books, including Science, Nature Climate Change, and the PLoS family. He is a frequent speaker, panelist, and moderator. His work primarily targets decision-making frameworks for adapting water infrastructure and ecosystems to climate impacts. Under his leadership, the AGWA network directly advises many national governments, corporations, the European Union, and key financial institutions on water-related climate risks, while AGWA has also become the official voice of the water community in the UNFCCC. Recent projects have included leading teams of more than 100 experts to develop green and climate bond resilience criteria for water investments (which has funded more than 8 billion USD to date), co-authoring a state-of-the-art guidance for mainstreaming climate adaptation into water management applied on four continents to date, developing climate-sensitive approaches to environmental allocations such as environmental flows at national and project levels, working with global policy instruments and institutions to embed water-climate knowledge into climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives, coordinating efforts to use finance mechanisms to implement nature-based solutions to climate adaptation, assembling curricula to build capacity around sustainable resource management, and exploring new economic tools to support integrated long-term planning.
John has advised a wide range of institutions, including bilateral, multilateral, NGO, national level agencies, UN agencies, foundations, and corporations on topics ranging from non-stationary resource management, finance, economics, and management practice. He is a columnist with OoskaNews, an Affiliate Faculty Member of the Colorado Water Center at Colorado State University, and a Courtesy Faculty member of the Water Resources Graduate Program at Oregon State University. Previously, John started and directed global freshwater climate adaptation programs for WWF and Conservation International. He has PhD in ecology from the University of Texas and held a postdoctoral research position in conservation biology with the US Geological Survey. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon, where he enjoys trail running, timber framing, and finding wild mushrooms.