Sandra Postel is named Stockholm Water Prize Laureate 2021 for groundbreaking work that has changed how many people view water. She was one of the first to warn of a global water crisis and to call for the conservation of water-based ecosystems. Today, she inspires decision-makers to find new solutions to water scarcity, climate change and biodiversity loss.


Sandra Postel is a leading authority on international water issues. In 1992, she published the book Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity about a global water crisis in the making. The message was considered revolutionary at the time and led to a new debate on threats to our freshwater. The book appeared in eight languages and was turned into a television documentary. Postel has published more books as well as over 100 chapters, articles, and papers for both scientific and popular publications.

In its citation, the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee says: “Sandra Postel is a world-leading authority on water scarcity and one of the world’s greatest water communicators and educators. No one has exhibited more commitment, capacity, courage, and perseverance to address far-ranging and critical water issues that affect both human and natural ecosystems. Her work has been instrumental in shifting both public and professional awareness about the water crisis.” 

Sandra Postel works to raise awareness of global water threats and to increase awareness of the impact humans have on the water cycle. Many of the risks she warned of 30 years ago have unfortunately materialized: water scarcity is spreading, food security is increasingly jeopardized, freshwater life is disappearing, and water-related disasters are growing in number and intensity. At the same time, people now have a much better understanding of how these issues are interlinked and Sandra Postel has been instrumental in bringing about this change in attitudes.

One of her key ideas is to broaden the “community of concern” around freshwater and this has led her to constantly explore new forms of communication. Between 2009 and 2015, Postel served as Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society, and she has appeared at numerous conferences, advocating for a more water-secure world. Only by working with nature, not against it, can we develop more effective climate solutions and improve water management to restore degraded ecosystems.

These ideas are gaining traction and in her most recent book, Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity, Sandra Postel shares inspiring examples.


Meet the 2021 Laureate