Oliver M. Brandes is an economist and lawyer by training and a trans-disciplinarian by design. He serves as Co-Director of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, based at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies (CFGS), where he leads the award-winning POLIS Water Sustainability Project. His work focuses on water sustainability, sound resource management, public policy development, and ecologically based legal and institutional reform.
Oliver serves as the Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships and Public Policy at CFGS. He is an Adjunct Professor in the University of Victoria Faculty of Law and School of Public Administration, and is a fellow of the Environmental Law Centre. In 2012, he co-developed B.C.’s first water law course at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. He also has affiliations at the University of Manitoba and Brock University.
Oliver is a technical advisor to the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, supporting the ongoing development of the provincial Water Sustainability Act. He also provides ongoing advisory support to the provincial government and Indigenous nations on issues of governance and water law for watershed governance pilots and planning projects underway in regions across the province, including the Koksilah, Cowichan, Skeena, Nicola, Hullcar, and Coquitlam watersheds. In 2017 Oliver was appointed to lead an independent expert review on source drinking water protection in B.C., which resulted in regulatory change and informed the Auditor General of British Columbia’s work on drinking water.
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 work includes chairing and planning the decade-long series of innovative biennial national Watersheds forums. He is also a founding member and 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, and the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources.