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Director, Professor Rebekah Brown and Chair, Professor John Thwaites have joined forces to create one of the world’s leading interdisciplinary research and education institutes in sustainable development.

Interdisciplinary research is a fundamental part of the way Monash Sustainable Development Institute operates – and Rebekah Brown has been a pioneer of the practice since the early 2000s.


Professor Rebekah Brown

As social scientist with a background as a practising civil engineer, Rebekah’s research and work has focused largely on sustainable water management and realising more resilient cities. Rebekah co-founded Monash’s Water Sensitive Cities research platform, and was the Chief Research Officer  of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities.

With over 100 papers published in leading journals, Rebekah’s work is used extensively within the water and land development industry around Australia, and by international organisations such as the Asian Development Bank, UN Habitat and the European Union. She was named a national leader in the  category  of Urban and Industrial Water on the prestigious WME Leaders List for 2010, and was a finalist in the 2010 Eureka Prize in Water Research and Innovation as well.


John Thwaites

When it comes to working towards a more sustainable future, few people have played as significant a role as John Thwaites. And as the Chair of Monash Sustainable Development Institute, it’s a role that continues to make a lasting impact.

Besides his work with the Institute, John is one of six Co-Chairs of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which was established in 2012. The Network provides expert advice on meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Named one of the Top 100 Global Sustainability Leaders in 2012 by ABC Carbon and Sustainability Asia, John chairs Melbourne Water, the Australian Building Codes Board and the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust, and is also a Director of the Australian Green Building Council. He has previously  worked  as a special advisor to the Timor-Leste Minister for Infrastructure, and was the Deputy Premier of Victoria from 1999 to 2007 – leading key initiatives in climate change, water, energy, health and social justice.