J. Rodda

International Hydrology Prize 2004
Prix International d'Hydrologie 2004

Dr John Rodda

Ceremony of the 2004 International Hydrology Prize, WMO, Geneva, 26 October 2004
From left to right A. Askew (IAHS President-Elect), Avinash Tyagi (WMO),
John Rodda, Andras Szöllösi-Nagy (UNESCO)

Award of the 2004 International Hydrology Prize to Dr John RODDA (United Kingdom)

The International Hydrology Prize is awarded annually to hydrologists who have made an outstanding contribution to the science. It is given by the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) with the support of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The award for 2004 was presented to Dr John C. Rodda on 26 October in Geneva by Dr Arthur J. Askew, President-elect of IAHS, on the occasion of the twelfth session of WMO’s Commission for Hydrology. Dr Askew’s citation was as follows:

“It is a pleasure and honour to bring to this assembly the greetings of Professor Kuniyoshi Takeuchi, President of IAHS and, on his behalf, to present the 2004 International Hydrology Prize to John Rodda.

John was born some few years ago in Glamorgan, U.K. which makes him proudly a Welshman, and it was at the University of Wales that he received his tertiary education; gaining a BSc, a PhD and, in 1979, a DSc.

For ten years, from 1960 to 1969, John did research work at the then Institute of Hydrology in Wallingford, U.K. He returned there for some two years in the early 1970s and then again in the 1980s when for six years he was Assistant Director of the Institute. During the 1970s and early 1980s, he spent two years with the Department of Environment in London and eight years with the Water Data Unit in Reading.

For a year, from 1969 to 1970, John worked in the WMO Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, to where he returned to take up the position of Director of its Hydrology and Water Resources Department from 1988 until his retirement in 1995; if one can refer to John’s subsequent active involvement in international hydrology as “retirement”.

Reference may be made to Dr Rodda’s links with academia. He gained a Diploma in Education in 1957, was a visiting professor at universities in U.K. and the Netherlands and is an Honorary Professor at the University of Wales.

Over the years, John has held a multitude of different positions. As regards IAHS, he was Chair of its Precipitation Committee from 1967 to 1971, Editor from 1971 to 1979, Secretary General from 1979 to 1987 and finally President from 1995 to 2001 and past-President from 2001 until 2003.

During his years with the WMO Secretariat, it is important to mention his chairmanship of the Organizing Committee for the International Conference on Water and the Environment (Dublin, January 1992) and, for two years, he chaired the then ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources. The latter provides the inter-secretariat basis for co-ordinating all freshwater activities throughout the United Nations System, while the former established the well-known “Dublin Principles” that were fed into the UN Conference on Environment and Development in June 1992. This allows me to make mention of the great support that John has always received from his wife, Annabel, who has often joined her husband “on the firing line” and can be credited herself with drafting one of the Dublin Principles.

John also has close links with UNESCO and only three weeks ago he was in Paris to present an evaluation report on the fifth phase of that Organization’s International Hydrological Programme.

Impressive as his career has been, it is not this alone which qualifies Dr Rodda as having made an outstanding contribution to the science of hydrology, for John is neither a bureaucrat nor one who works in isolation on research projects. He is a man of ideas who seizes opportunities to launch projects that are of benefit to the water community at large. In this, I offer just six examples:

  • in the 1960s and 1970s, he developed the pit raingauge and pursued its international comparison and acceptance as being superior to the standard used in most countries;
  • in the 1960s he was involved in headwaters research that led to the establishment of the famous catchment research programme at Plynlimon, which is in Wales, of course;
  • in 1985 he was instrumental in convening a conference on the hydrological applications of weather radar; which has turned into a series of international conferences
  • he took the initiative to establish links between catchment research being undertaken in various European countries which eventually developed into FRIEND – one of UNESCO’s most successful projects, which is still alive and well and now embraces the whole World;
  • when, in 1990, the United Nations announced plans for the Rio Conference, John launched and oversaw the Dublin Conference referred to earlier; and
  • after the Rio Conference he was one of those who took its recommendations seriously, launching WMO’s WHYCOS programme as a basis for upgrading data collection programmes in developing countries and, some time later, even developing a Agenda 21 programme for Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, the village in Southern England where he and Annabel have lived for nearly 40 years.

These are the true marks of one who has made an outstanding contribution to the science and practice of hydrology, and they more than amply justify the award of the International Hydrology Prize for 2004. During his career, John has made many friends, both in the U.K. and throughout the World, and I am confident that they will join me in applauding his achievements in the field that means so much to all of us.”


Arthur Askew, IAHS President-Elect

4 IAHS General Secretaries
First row : H Colenbrander and J. Rodda
Second Row P. Hubert and G. Young
3 Awardees of the IHP
From left to right I. Shiklomanov, J. Nemec
and J. Rodda
5 Directors of the WMO HWR Dpt
A. Tyagi, Present Director, A. Askew,
D. Kraemer, J. Rodda and J. Nemec

  back to top