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Daniel Connell

Research Fellow, Environment and Development Program



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Dr Daniel Connell works on governance issues relating to trans-boundary rivers in the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University. He has written extensively about Australia’s Murray Darling Basin, most recently in Basin Futures a book co-edited with Quentin Grafton and published by ANU E Press. Since publishing Water Politics in the Murray-Darling Basin in 2007 he has been conducting a comparative study of the governance arrangements for rivers in multi-layered governance systems focusing in particular on Australia, South Africa, United States, Mexico, European Union (Spain), India, China and Brazil. Themes include water reform, environmental justice, public participation, cultural change, institutional design, the distribution of costs and benefits across borders, water markets and risk created by the interaction of different levels of government. His current projects include a book (co-edited with Dustin Garrick and Jamie Pittock) Federal Rivers: institutional responses to water risks in multi-layered political systems, based on a workshop conducted at Oxford University in April 2012 to be published by Edward Elgar in 2013.

Daniel also teaches courses dealing with environmental policy and communications, coordinates the masters degree research stream in the Environment and Development program in the Crawford School and is the Director International Education in the team associated with the ANU’s UNESCO Water Chair in Economics and Trans-boundary Governance. The ANU-UNESCO water chair is active in southern Africa and south-east Asia promoting collaborative research projects and education programs. An example of the latter is the ALA Fellowship Mekong Alliance program. Funded by AusAID it brought twenty staff from four universities, the Beijing Forestry University, the Vietnam Forestry University, the Royal University of Phnom Penh and the National Economic Research Institute of Laos to the ANU for a sixteen week workshop in 2011 to study the potential impacts of climate change in the Mekong region.


Present — March 2007 - Research Fellow Crawford School of Public Policy ANU. Responsibilities include:-

  • Research into governance issues in multi-level political systems focusing on countries such as Australia, the United States, South Africa, Spain, India, China and Brazil, international trans-boundary issues in the Mekong River Basin and water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin and northern Australia with a focus on governance, institutional design and community participation,
  • Development and teaching of a post graduate course, Environmental Policy and Communications (EMDV 8007)
  • Coordination of the masters degree research stream in the Environment and Development Program.
  • Participation in the public debate about water planning and institutional reform in the Murray-Darling Basin.
  • International Director Education UNESCO Water Chair.

Present — 1984 Oral historian (freelance in parallel with other work) working for the National Library of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, Old Parliament House, Murray-Darling Basin Commission, the Australian National University, the Australian Bureau of Statistics etc. In recent years the work for the National Library and the Murray-Darling Basin Commission has focused on policy makers, managers, and infrastructure operators active in water management in the Murray-Darling Basin over the past 50 years.

2007 - 2006 – Land and Water Australia funded fellowship to undertake a comparative study of water planning in the Daly River catchment in the Northern Territory, Victoria’s Goulburn-Broken catchment and South Australia’s Riverland.

2006 - 2005 - three-month publishing fellowship awarded by the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies to rework my PhD for publication by Federation Press.

2005 - 2002 - PhD thesis titled The Chariot wheels of the Commonwealth. It examined the history of cross border water policy and management in the Murray-Darling Basin and used the principles contained in Australia’s National Water Initiative to critique the institutional framework in place in the region. In parallel the adequacy of the NWI was assessed in terms of its capacity to respond effectively to the major issues that confront water managers in the MDB. This was then placed within the wider debate about optimum pathways to implementation.

2002 – 1994 Murray-Darling Basin Commission – communications and community relations activities which included liaison with print and electronic news media, project and event management, audio and video documentary production, corporate writing activities, management of MDBC Annual Reports 1997-2002 and oral history projects and editing and project management of numerous publications ranging from posters and pamphlets, CDs and videos to books.

1994 – 1993 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – journalist contributing to and editing various publications.

Pre 1992 Australian Broadcasting Corporation – journalist producing radio features in the Social History Unit in Radio National. Before that I was a radio and television producer in the Educational Broadcasting Department, producing programs for primary and secondary schools. This included secondments to Papua New Guinea for three periods totaling eight years in the 1970s and 80s. There I worked as a broadcaster, manager and trainer in the Australian Broadcasting Commission (as it was then) and the PNG National Broadcasting Commission, as the director of the third South Pacific Festival of Arts (Pt Moresby 1980) during its planning phase, and as the first director of a media unit attached to a World Bank rural development project in the southern highlands (1982-84).

Updated:  18 August 2019/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team