Based on his world-renowned research on the virtual water trade, digital river mapping, and human activity’s inclusion in the water cycle, Professor Taikan Oki has won the Stockholm Water Prize 2024. The prize money is USD 150 000.

Professor Taikan Oki is a world-renowned researcher in hydrology. His work has contributed to more sustainable water management on a global scale through more realistic and practical climate adaptation measures, including human activity in the water cycle and a more accurate depiction of the world’s river flows. He was instrumental in developing a global river routing model for climate applications and international water resource assessment (the Total Runoff Integrating Pathways – TRIP system) currently used worldwide.  He was also the first to measure the value of virtual water accurately. His research led to a better understanding of food importation and its impact on the virtual water trade and water scarcity.

In its citation, the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee states:

“Professor Taikan Oki’s work has greatly advanced our understanding of the nexus among hydrology, climate change and sustainability. Through numerical modelling of complex systems, he has demonstrated exceptional scholarship that provides important insights into how humans alter water, climate, and the biosphere. His major scientific contributions have highlighted ‘total water storage’ as a critical variable in water management and climate change. Professor Oki is selected for the award for his outstanding contributions to global water balance studies, global virtual water flows, and the spatial and temporal variability of annually renewable water.”

On becoming the 2024 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate, Professor Taikan Oki says: “I feel moved and lucky to have won this award. I never thought that I could have gotten the prize myself. After getting this prize, I am eager to foster the younger generation and continue contributing to the international academic community on hydrology. Like previous laureates, I also feel I must further contribute to solving the world’s water issues through research.”

Taikan Oki is a professor at the University of Tokyo in the Department of Civil Engineering at the Graduate School of Engineering in Japan. A man of many talents, he has also held the titles of Special Advisor to the President at the University of Tokyo, Senior Vice-Rector for the United Nations University, and Assistant Secretary General at the United Nations, alongside his professorship at the University of Tokyo. In 1995, as visiting scientists, Taikan Oki and his wife, spent two years at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA. The couple has two children.

Professor Taikan Oki says that he has been inspired in his work by many other Stockholm Water Prize Laureates, among them Professor Antony Allan, who is also credited with seminal work on the concept of virtual water. Additionally, he named Stockholm International Water Institute’s late senior advisor, Professor Malin Falkenmark, a great inspiration to him.

The Stockholm Water Foundation awards the Stockholm Water Prize in cooperation with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Prize will be presented to the Laureate Professor Taikan Oki by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, the official patron of the Prize, on 28 August during World Water Week in Stockholm.

Founding partners of the Stockholm Water Prize are Ålandsbanken, Bacardi, PDJ Foundation, WEF, and Xylem.