Oliver Brandes

Co-Director, POLIS Project on Ecological Governance
Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships and Public Policy, Centre for Global Studies


Faculty of Law, University of Victoria
PO Box 1700, STN CSC
Victoria, BC  V8W 2Y2

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 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. 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. Oliver is 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.


  • BA (Hons) – Queens University
  • Certificate of International Relations – Queens University (Bader International Study Centre)
  • MEcon – Queens University
  • Diploma Restoration of Natural Systems – University of Victoria
  • JD – University of Victoria
  • Towards Watershed Security: The role of water in modernized land use planning in B.C. (POLIS, 2020)
  • Water Sustainability Plans: Potential, Options, and Essential Content (POLIS, 2019)
  • From Crisis to Solutions: Towards Better Source Water Protection and Nutrient Management in the Hullcar Valley (POLIS, 2017)*
    *A Report prepared for the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
  • Illumination: Insights and Perspectives for Building Effective Watershed Governance in B.C. (POLIS, 2016)
  • Awash with Opportunity: Ensuring the Sustainability of British Columbia’s New Water Law (POLIS, 2015)
  • A Blueprint for Watershed Governance in British Columbia (POLIS, 2014)
  • Making the Most of the Water We Have: The Soft Path Approach to Water Management (Earthscan/Routledge, 2009)