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Jamie planned and executed an engaging series of talks delivered for the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville. He took time to educate himself on local water issues and effectively incorporated these into each presentation, connecting the local and global seamlessly. Tremendous community partnerships were forged as a direct result of his visit, and we are most appreciative.

Trina Medarev

Executive Director, World Affairs Council of Jacksonville

Speaker Reel


Hang on – an upbeat motivational speaker on…apocalyptic global warming?


Neither denialists nor doomsayers help us meet rising thirst with practical, timeless solutions. Jamie’s compelling program does.

As our crowded world heats up and dries out, your institution can avoid the risks of local pain. By linking ancient indigenous adaptive strategies with 21st century tools and techniques, Jamie shows audiences how to laugh, play, thrive and restore increasingly scarce water into a source of lasting abundance and security.

At our Conference on Climate Change and Water Resources, Jamie was by far the best speaker we have ever had. He was insightful and engaging, and most importantly he had a compelling message that captured and held the interest of our conference attendees the entire time. On top of that he is a genuinely nice person and very easy to work with.

Ken Reid

Executive Vice President at American Water Resources Association




Jamie is a provocative and engaging speaker who has presented hundreds of keynotes and workshops that help urban, corporate, political and academic audiences radically alter how we approach the conservation of freshwater, ocean fisheries, and wildland fire – from the bottom up.

As founder of the public benefits corporation, AquaShares Inc., Jamie designed and developed the world’s first online water credit trading platforms, building resilience from California to Morocco to Mexico.

Jamie was founding editor of the International Water Association’s magazine The Source, senior advisor to the World Commission on Dams under Nelson Mandela, and White House-appointed speechwriter to U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

Beyond hundreds of articles and essays, Jamie is author of the award-winning Heart of Dryness: How the last Bushmen can help us endure the coming age of permanent drought, and Water: Diminishing Resources; he's co-author of the forthcoming Replenish the Earth: Groundwater governance from the bottom up, and Sea Change: The fishermen’s revolution that is rebuilding life offshore – and on.

Jamie rowed varsity crew and studied at Yale & Oxford; he developed and taught new courses on natural resource conservation at Wesleyan and Whitman colleges. But his real education came from blowing up dams, releasing wolves, fighting wildland fires, guiding safaris, smuggling water to dissidents, breaking down in Africa's Kalahari Desert, and becoming a husband and dad (not ranked in that order).


I have heard Jamie speak to a wide variety of audiences, professionals, college students, and politicos, and he has a keen knack for reading and quickly assessing his audiences. He makes the dry sizzle, the complicated easy, and the mundane, entertaining.

Bobby McCormick

Dean, College of Business, Clemson University

Jamie was genuinely engaging, whether sharing captivating tales of his travels in the Kalahari and the wisdom he gained thereupon, or pointing out the critical — but, as he quickly noted, solvable! — flaw when it comes to economics and water.  Most importantly, he left my students with two great gifts: a sense of hopeful optimism about the future of water, and a lasting conversation that continued well after his talk.  I cannot recommend him highly enough!

Mike Judge

Sacred Heart Schools


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Replenish the Earth

Defuse your risk exposure to painful water scarcity.

Trapped between rising thirst and evaporating supplies, freshwater stress threatens our health, political stability, economic growth, and natural communities. As forced unilateral regulations and rations fail, can voluntary measures succeed?

Yes. Turns out, every diverse society across time thrived under local self-governance as users negotiate to earn, own, and trade the water they save. Their resilience strategies go by different names – Khwe !xaro, Arabian aflaj, Balinese subak, Moroccan khettara, Chinese harez, or Persian qanat – but all share the same patterns and contours.

After breaking down in Africa’s largest desert, Jamie discovered how these ancient mechanisms still work and can now be adapted, enhanced by tools that relieve our urban, industrial, and agricultural thirst. In talks, workshops, courses and writing he has distilled a timeless essence into pragmatic measures where you can help ensure more than enough water, for all, forever.


  •  Know the source of water scarcity: a centralized supply overwhelmed by infinite demand

  • Grasp the root of the problem: a priceless resource remains worthless in exchange

  •  Discover the exceptions that prove the rule: timeless resilience systems in depth and breadth

  • Learn the seven steps to designing modern voluntary water governance platforms

  • Explore how to adapt, a choice to offset your local water use and achieve water neutrality

Potential Workshop 1: See an aquifer hall full: Learn how to design resilient groundwater governance from the bottom up. A 7-step course to reverse depletion of the invisible, priceless resource you depend on.

Potential Workshop 2: Negate your Impact: Because this liquid resource is local, confined, tangible, accountable, measured, and paid for, trade in water use credits can thrive where carbon credits don't. Learn how to offset your footprint and achieve water neutrality - or better.

Turn the Tide

Redefine your uneasy relationship with the sea.

As our hungry appetites seek nutritious seafood, we threaten wild fisheries with collapse. Indeed, the combined wicked problems – overfishing and climate change – led scientists to project that by 2048 the ocean will be barren.

Not so fast.

In recent years a radically improved outcome has begun to take shape. To grasp this quiet revolution, Jamie leads audiences offshore into the heart of a literal ‘sea change’ anchored in the traditions of ancient fishing communities, aligning goals of people and nature, and led by our most unlikely protagonists: sea-savvy commercial fisherman like Buddy Guindon.


Endowed with clearly defined rights and responsibilities, seafood harvesters such as Buddy are working hard to slow, stop and reverse decades of overfishing. This versatile but crazy effective system, known as ‘catch shares,’ is spreading from the Gulf of Mexico out to distant and foreign waters. The surprising dynamic transforms how, as stakeholders, we can help restore a more resilient ocean anytime we grab fish sticks in the frozen food, order seared halibut at a restaurant, throw grouper on the grill, or order a Filet-O-Fish at the McDonald’s drive-thru.


  • Discover the roots and foundations of sustainable fishing from Fiji to Turkey to Belize

  • Grasp why Alaska king crab’s “Deadliest Catch” suddenly grew safer, cleaner, more profitable

  •  See why rival founding fathers Hamilton and Jefferson uniquely agree on shares-based fishing

  • Appreciate the technological breakthroughs innovated only after catch shares were in place

  • Link climate adaptation and mitigation, as fishing rights rebuild reefs and eliminate emissions

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Fight fire with finance

Heretical tools that help defuel the apocalypse

Climate change is blamed for the destructive rise of wildfires. Trouble is, even without global heating, conflagrations would still burn faster, larger, hotter, and more deadly than ever. Why?

In this provocative talk, Workman – a former wildland firefighter who worked on Hotshot crews across the West – helps audiences trace the flames to their unlikely roots: too many trees now compete for too little water and soil nutrients. The legacy of grazing, old growth logging, and the ominous influence of Smokey Bear have all created an unhealthy tinderbox waiting to explode.

To reverse the escalating threat, Jamie highlights how, where and why indigenous strategies are being adapted by modern coalitions using Big Data, cutting-edge tools and monetary incentives. The result is a healthier landscape with a forest mosaic that can better absorb rising heat, drought and flames with resilience.


  •  Discover the powerful nexus of forests, people, water, carbon emissions and fire.

  • Grasp why previously “bad” chainsaws have become the saviors of forest health.

  • Understand how and why indigenous people used fire as a dynamic tool.

  • Follow the path to ending what has now become America’s longest-running “war”

  • Learn where bonds and contracts now lower the risks from catastrophic wildfire.

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Workman customizes his program to meet the needs of the diverse audiences that have booked him in the past. In recent years he has delivered dozens of keynote speeches before universities, civic/non-profit organizations, industry & trade associations, including:


Jamie's speech was insightful and caused the audience to think about water issues in a significantly different way. He was very easy to work with, researched our local issues and connected them to his worldly views. We were extremely pleased with his work.

Mike Orth

Executive Vice President at Black & Veatch

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Steve Curwood, National Public Radio Environmental Show,


China Dialogue: Workman: “The Three Paradoxes of Water”

Capitol Radio: Insight: Workman on Drought-Proofing California

Combating Water Scarcity with AquaShares founder James Workman

Los Angeles Water Dialogue with James Workman

Enviropreneurs at Work: James Workman changes how conservation is done



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Phone: +1 (415) 728-3494

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