Since founding the Pacific Institute in 1987, Peter Gleick has worked across the spheres of environmental science, public health, and climate justice to ensure that people across the globe have access to clean water. Gleick’s individual research, in tandem with the work of the Pacific Institute, has redefined the human right to water while examining the intersection between economic pressures and global sustainability.
Over the past decades, Gleick’s pioneering work has been key in landmark civil rights cases and statutes around the world. In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly drew from his research when formalizing the human right to water; and the Pacific Institute contributed testimony to a landmark civil rights case regarding citizens’ access to clean water in South Africa. Gleick has received the prestigious MacArthur Fellow “Genius Award,” the U.S. Water Prize, and the Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization. This year, he published The Three Ages of Water, an account of how water has shaped the course of human history. “The world faces a series of deepening crises,” Gleick told Worth. “[but] we’re learning how to use water more efficiently, restore natural ecosystems…and reverse the trend of dangerous climate changes. Let’s make the transition from today’s challenges to that positive future as fast as possible.”