Professor Taikan Oki wins the Stockholm Water Prize


From left to right: Toru H. Okabe (Director General of Institute of Industrial Science, UTokyo), Nobuhito Saito (Executive Vice President of UTokyo), Taikan Oki (Professor of Graduate School of Engineering, UTokyo), Yasuhiro Kato (Dean of Graduate School of Engineering, UTokyo), Kensuke Fukushi (Director of Institute for Future Initiatives, UTokyo)

The Stockholm Water Prize, determined by the Stockholm International Water Institute in cooperation with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which selects the Nobel Prize, is the most prestigious water-related prize in the world. In 2024, Dr. Taikan Oki, Professor of the School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo, was selected as the winner, and the award was announced on the United Nations-designated "World Water Day" (March 22). He is the third Japanese recipient, and the first in 23 years, to be awarded the prize. The award was given in recognition of Professor Oki's outstanding contributions to research on the global water balance, the global flow of virtual water, and spatio-temporal variations in the amount of renewable water resources. The award will be presented by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a royal ceremony at Stockholm City Hall in August as part of "Stockholm World Water Week".

Professor Oki has provided important insights into how humans are changing water, climate, and the biosphere through numerical modeling of complex systems, and has demonstrated outstanding scholarship that has greatly advanced our understanding of the nexus between hydrology, climate change, and sustainability. Professor Oki's main scientific contribution is in shedding light on a key variable in water management and climate change: total water storage. In particular, Professor Oki's Total Runoff Integrating Pathways (TRIP), a digital mapping of the world's major rivers, is the most widely used in the world, quantifying global river flows much more accurately than previously possible and revealing the green water resources (soil moisture) required under various land management and climate scenarios. Professor Oki's outstanding contributions to research on the global water balance, global flows of virtual water, and spatio-temporal variations in renewable water resource quantities have been recognized with this award.

Comments from the prize winner (Prof. Oki)

沖先生トピックス用.jpgI feel deeply honored to be selected for the Stockholm Water Prize, the world's most prestigious prize in the field of water. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to President Teruo Fujii and all those who recommended me for the prize, to the judges, to my mentors including Professor Emeritus Katsumi Mushiake of the University of Tokyo and Fukushima University, to my colleagues inside and outside the university as well as in Japan and abroad, to the alumni and graduates who have conducted research with me, and to my family and friends.

It is a great honor for me to be the third Japanese and the first researcher based in Japan to receive this award. In addition to the fact that other people found my research on the global water cycle interesting, I feel very fortunate that the world's water and climate change issues have become important academic and social issues and have attracted much attention. Dr. Peter S. Eagleson of MIT, renowned for his theoretical hydrology; Dr. A. K. Biswas, who has taught the importance of the socioeconomic aspects of water management; Dr. J. Anthony Allan, who created the concept of virtual water trade; Dr. Wilfried Brutsaert; and others with whom I am somewhat acquainted; it is truly overwhelming to look at the faces of past laureates such as these, and I feel tremendous pressure to contribute more to solving the world's water problems through research like they did. I am determined to use this award as an opportunity to further pursue education and research that will contribute to the sustainable use and protection of the world's water resources.

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