Alex Fischer

Honorary Research Fellow

Picture of Alex Fischer

Virtual Appointment


Dr Alex Fischer is an Honorary Research Fellow engaging with the ANU School of Cybernetics’ faculty, research students and Practitioner Network. He brings his interdisciplinary training and global cross-sector experiences to pressing questions about how technology is being designed to accelerate progress across the Sustainable Development Goals. His policy and practice interests include how smart-monitoring technologies are shaping rural drinking water services, how Bayesian analytic approaches are enabling adaptive community and government initiatives aimed at improving intergenerational societal health and how new data flows are changing policy and accountability pathways ranging from community to watershed to national scales. His academic research explores how competing media and policy narratives interact to shape public priorities and how to design polycentric institutions by considering the way information systems link to decisions and performance outcomes.

Alex was previously the Head of Research at the Paul Ramsay Foundation. Prior to that, he supported Bangladeshi colleagues to launch SafePani, a community owned rural water service leveraging blended public-private finance and use of smart monitoring technologies to improve safety and reliability of public and private water points. During his tenure at the Center for Earth Science Information Networks (CIESIN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, he launched and co-led the Fragile States Policy Program and Environmental Security Research Program. He is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s expert group on Thematic Research on Data and Statistic.

Research interests

  • Media and policy narratives
  • Institutional design
  • Information system innovation
  • Environmental security
  • Safe and reliable drinking water
  • Multi-dimensional wellbeing
  • Democratic resilience


  1. Verhulst, S., Moretti, L, Chafetz, H., and A. Fischer. (2023) “Modernizing philanthropy for the 21st century.” Alliance Magazine. (Link)
  2. Fischer, A, and R. Hope, A. Manandhar, S. Hoque, T. Foster, A. Hakim, M.S. Islam, and D. Bradley. (2020) “Risky responsibilities for rural drinking water institutions: the case for regulating self-supply in Bangladesh.” Global Environmental Change. 65, 102152,
  3. Manandhar, A, and A. Fischer, D.J. Bradley, M. Salehin, M.S. Islam, R. Hope, and D.A. Clifton. (2020) “Machine Learning to Evaluate Impacts of Flood Protection in Bangladesh, 1983–2014” Water 12:2: 483,
  4. Fischer, A. (2019) Constraining Risk Narratives: A Multidecadal Media Analysis of Drinking Water Insecurity in Bangladesh. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 109:5, 1433-1453,
  5. Fischer, A. and M. Levy. (2011) “Designing Environmental Restoration Programs in Politically Unstable States: Lessons from Haiti.” In Strengthening Post-Conflict Security and Diplomacy. Ed. Carl Bruch, Mikiyasu Nakayama and Ilana Coyle, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, DC: 2011.

Policy and Technical White Papers

  1. A. Fischer and N. Davis. (2023) “Five research and policy questions to improve societal health and break cycles of disadvantage.” Policymaker. James Martin Institute. (Link)
  2. Fischer, A, “Reconciling polycentric administrative data to improve drinking water security in Bangladesh”. Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) white paper and International Conference on Sustainable Development Conference Paper. Sept 2017.
  3. Fischer, A. and A. Cho, R. Webb, M. Levy, M. Doyle, and P. Kim-Blanco. Value of Water Information. Xylem Inc. White Paper and World Water Week Conference Paper. August 2017,
  4. Fischer, A. and B. Chen, A. de Sherbinin, and M. Levy. “Methodological Note on Computing Costs for SDG Indicators with Geospatial Dimensions” and “Methodological Note on Computing Costs for other Environmental SDG Indicators” in Data for Development: A Needs Assessment for SDG Monitoring and Statistical Capacity Development. UN-SDSN. April, 2015.
  5. Fischer, A and M. Levy. “What Haiti Can Do Next.” Time Magazine. January 2015.

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