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Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences

The Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences (ACSEES) is an important source of independent, strategic advice to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority. The committee’s work helps to ensure the Basin Plan is confidently implemented with the support of robust methodology, science and knowledge.

ACSEES delivers advice on Basin Plan implementation and the broader scientific context of the MDBA’s work, including environmental watering, adaptive management, climate change and the monitoring and evaluation of Basin Plan outcomes. The communication of science-related matters within academic, community and industry networks is also an important part of the committee’s role.

The committee’s seven members bring an impressive depth of understanding to the MDBA’s work, and have high standing in the fields of economics, hydrology, ecology and resilience, water governance and law, sociology and sustainable systems.

The MDBA established the advisory committee under Section 203 of the Water Act 2007, alongside other advisory bodies such as the Basin Community Committee.


Professor Rob Vertessy (Chair)

Rob Vertessy has led a distinguished career in water research since graduating with a PhD from the Australian National University in fluvial geomorphology.  After leading the Cooperative Research Centre for Catchment Hydrology then CSIRO’s Land and Water Division, he joined the Bureau of Meteorology where he served as the Bureau’s CEO and represented Australia at the World Meteorological Organization.

Professor Vertessy currently conducts research on climate change and water security as an enterprise professor with the University of Melbourne’s School of Engineering, and chairs the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering’s water forum.

Environmental intelligence is the focus of Professor Vertessy’s consulting company, which has taken him to Asia on behalf of the Australian Water Partnership and the Commonwealth Government to share Australia’s water reform experience. He chairs a number of state and Commonwealth technical committees concerned with climate and water matters.

Professor Poh-Ling Tan

Poh-Ling Tan is the International Water Centre's Professor for Water Law and Governance at Griffith University. A background in legal practice has provided a problem-solving approach to her teaching and research. For more than 20 years Professor Tan’s research has focused on water reform and governance particularly in the intersections of law, social and biophysical sciences.

Professor Tan collaborates with multi-disciplinary teams of researchers and has significant experience working with Traditional Owners, water agencies, stakeholders and general communities in different Australian contexts. She serves on the OECD Water Governance Initiative, the Water Referral Panel advising the Queensland Minister for Natural Resource and Mines and advises the board of the Journal of Water Law.

Professor Michael Stewardson

Michael Stewardson leads the Environmental Hydrology and Water Resources Group in the School of Engineering at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Stewardson has significant expertise in the fields of water sharing and river basin management, river science and freshwater ecosystem management. He is currently involved in projects monitoring and evaluating environmental flows, improving evidence-based practice in enviornmental management of rivers and understanding the benefits to stream health of harvesting urban stormwater.

Professor Stewardson is a member of the European Geophysical Union, the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research and the Society for Freshwater Science. He was awarded the National Eureka Prize for Water Research and Innovation in 2011, and received the Award for Excellence for Building Knowledge across Disciplines in 2011.

Professor David James

David James has more than 40 years of academic, consulting and research experience in Australia and overseas, specialising in environmental and natural resource economics. He has held senior academic appointments in Australia, the Netherlands and Hawaii, most recently as adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Bristol.

Professor James was Special Commissioner with the Australian Resource Assessment Commission and Chair of the NSW Socioeconomics Technical Advisory Committee for the Regional Forest Agreements process. He has been an adviser on numerous government technical committees and projects, including those relating to water sharing, water quality management, integrated catchment management and ecosystem services.

Professor James received a UNEP Global 500 Award for his work incorporating economic principles in environmental impact assessment and for many years served with the Economy and Environment Programme for South East Asia contributing to capacity-building training, research activities and policy advice.

Professor Nick Bond

Nick Bond is the Director of the Centre for Freshwater Ecosystems at La Trobe University, and has more than 20 years experience working on the ecology and hydrology of rivers and streams, with a focus on Australia’s water-stressed regions. His primary research interest is in modelling the effects of flow variability on stream biota and ecosystem processes, and has been involved in environmental flow research and monitoring in Australia, Asia and South America.

Professor Bond holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne, and is an adjunct professor at the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University. He has held leadership roles with several Cooperative Research Centres, helping to establish strong links between research and industry, and translating research to guide water management and policy.  He currently sits on a number of scientific advisory panels for state and Commonwealth agencies.

Professor Roger Stone

Roger Stone’s career in both meteorological and climatological research extends over 35 years, and has focused on research and development in climate systems, extreme drought preparedness and climate modelling targeted for global agricultural production and trading.

Professor Stone is currently the Director of the Centre for Applied Climate Sciences at the University of Southern Queensland. He also holds senior positions in the United Nation’s Integrated Drought Management Program and the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction Program, and is President of the the United Nations World Meteorological Organisation Commission for Agricultural Meteorology.

Seasonal climate forecasting and climate change issues have been the subject of presentations by Professor Stone to farmers, producers and scientific and policy communities in Australia and internationally.

Professor Sue Jackson

Sue Jackson is a cultural geographer with a PhD from Macquarie University and 25 years’ experience researching the social dimensions of natural resource management, currently with the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University. She has research interests in the social and cultural values associated with water, customary Indigenous resource rights, systems of resource governance, and Indigenous capacity building for improved participation in natural resource management and planning.

Professor Jackson’s expertise includes environmental flow assessment and qualitative research methods, and she is leading several projects through the Australian Research Council and the Commonwealth’s National Environmental Science Program, and is a co-convenor of Waterfuture’s environmental flows working group.

Professor Jackson is a member of several state and Commonwealth technical advisory panels, including those for Kakadu National Park, the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board of Management.

ACSEES Communique 16-17 April 2019 [ PDF 503KB ] - [Word 132KB ]

ACSEES Communique 23-24 October 2018 [ PDF 503KB ] - [Word 130KB ]


Updated: 07 Jun 2019