Dr Anthony Turton


Dr Anthony Turton has a high media profile, most notably regarding the issue of acid mine drainage (AMD) and water quality arising from waste water mismanagement.

He works into the mining space where he is part of a team developing a new investment case for Brownfields site rehabilitation.

He holds two Professorships: in the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State; and in the UESCO Chair in Groundwater Management at the University of Western Cape.

Dr Anthony Turton can speak on leadership challenges arising from decision-making under conditions of uncertainty and inherently high risk.  As a soldier-poet he is active among the veteran community encouraging  the catharsis of recognition for the role played by all, irrespective of which side they fought on.

He is a nation-builder and story-teller, deeply embedded in his roots as a 12th generation African.

Dr Anthony Turton achievements & accolades:

–    In 2009, he earned the Habitat Council Award for his ‘principled stance in defence of the public to be informed of the truth … and the courage that he displayed in publishing the state of our water resources, thereby refusing to compromise his scientific integrity’
–    In 2010, he earned the Nick Steele Memorial Award, given to him by SAM Miller in recognition of his work on AMD as a strategic national problem
–    In 2012, he was given the Green Globe Award in 2012 in recognition for his work in sustainability.
–    In 2015 his work was published in the first anthology of bush war poetry in the book “Nubes Belli” (Clouds of War).
–    His book Shaking Hands with Billy forms the basis of many of the leadership lessons he can speak of.

Dr Anthony Turton is available for professional engagements as a speaker or facilitator where sustainability and corporate leadership are required.

Anthony Turton, a 12th generation African and direct descendent of a member of Jan van Riebeek’s original party, served in various capacities in the security forces of South Africa. Dr Anthony Turton core skills are intelligence support to decision-makers operating under conditions of high risk with incomplete information often from contested sources.

Initially deployed as a crew commander in an armoured unit, he later became the unit specialist in mine warfare and IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices). He was recruited into a deep cover offensive counter espionage (CE) unit (O61/01) in the National Intelligence Service (NIS). This gave him direct exposure to offensive CE operations run on foreign hostile soil. After the Pretoria car bomb detonated, a Special Operations (SO) unit was created within the Chief Directorate Covert Operations (CDCO) of the NIS designated K43.

The mission given to K43 was the capture of the MK Chief of Staff, code named Billy, with the sole intention of bringing him home to stand trial for terrorism. This unit was based on the successful Mossad operations to counter the Munich Olympics Massacre and to capture Adolf Eichmann. Within K43 a combination of CE and SO skills were merged into a potent team of professionals operating under deep cover in foreign hostile environments.

This became the crucible from which a range of SO’s were launched, mostly from another covert unit designated K32, all with strategic impact. These included, but are not limited to: the intelligence support to the negotiations that allowed the SADF to withdraw from Angola; the implementation of UN Resolution 435; the establishment of the first covert contact with Nelson Mandela and the subsequent protection of the CODESA process; the monitoring of Russian willingness and capacity to intervene in South Africa as the USSR collapsed in 1989; and the deep penetration small team SO into Mozambique designed to stop the flow of weapons to the armed faction of the IFP that threated to derail CODESA.

Dr Anthony Turton became a founding member of the South African Secret Service (SASS), where he served as Deputy Divisional Head C13 (Techno-Economic Intelligence) and as Staff Officer (C11) to the Chief Director Covert Operations and Counter Intelligence (C1). He obtained his Doctorate at the University of Pretoria and is recognized across a range of international security services for his insight into water as a national security risk.

Today Dr Anthony Turton specializes in strategic level risk mitigation for investors exposed to the financial insecurity of failing infrastructure, most notably water resources and water services. He is a professional speaker with a range of commercial interests in consulting and technology companies.

As a Keynote Speaker Dr Anthony Turton is often commissioned by professional bodies to set a specific theme for one of their national or international symposia or conferences. I usually do this with a written paper (available in the My Scientific Papers section of thie website) that enters the official proceedings, supported by a PowerPoint presentation in which I emphasise specific points made in the paper.

In this case was invited by SANCIAHS, the professional association of hydrologists in South Africa, to present the Des Midgeley Memorial Lecture, where he used the opportunity to explain that our fledgling democratic South Africa will need a new form of professional hydrology based on a challenging set of realities such as a Constitution with a Bill of Rights and a national water resource that is stretched to its absolute limit:

When Dr Anthony Turton worked as a Technical Specialist with a foreign audience, I have learned that flexibility is the key. I have also learned that a sense of humour is culture-bound, so I tend not to use humour to illustrate a point with such audiences.

Under these circumstances Dr Anthony Turton uses a very simple PowerPoint format, often based extensively on images and/or maps, but hardly any text. This allows me to judge my audience at the time of the presentation and adapt accordingly, using the images to illustrate the point I wish to make. This flexibility gives me a wider latitude than a pre-worded PowerPoint presentation. This example comes from a presentation commissioned by the Swedish Foreign Ministry given to the Mekong River Commission in Chiang Rai Thailand.

Sometimes I am commissioned to present new ideas to workshops, conferences or seminars, with the intention to shift the debate in a specific direction. This is the PowerPoint presentation on Benefit-Sharing as an issue of scale that was made on invitation from the African Development Bank at the African Water Week held in Tunisia in 2008. It is the issue of scale that provides the solution to complex problems manifesting at the level of the water-stressed river basin

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