The loss of our friend and advisor Dr David Phillips


Adam Smith International is sorry to announce the death of our friend and advisor Dr David Phillips. Late on 6 November, Dave passed away in Namibia after a short illness. His funeral was held on 12 November in Windhoek.

Dave was a long-standing and admired member of Adam Smith International's close family of advisors. He was an environmentalist with 35 years of experience in over 30 countries.

As a young man he was a very gifted footballer who contemplated a career in the game, but his great passion was nature and instead completed a PHD in Marine Pollution at the University of Cambridge. He studied colonies of giant clams off the coast of Australia for over 25 years and was widely acknowledged as a leading authority on aspects of marine biology. He published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed international literature and is the author of two books.

In 2014, he worked in Cameroon, South Africa, Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan, but his history with Adam Smith International goes back much further: I first worked with him in Andhra Pradesh, India in 1999.

His greatest contribution for Adam Smith International was as lead technical adviser on water and environmental issues on our flagship Negotiation Support Project in Palestine. Beginning in 1999, Dave helped develop many of the key technical arguments that allowed Palestinian negotiators to present arguments to establish their water rights under international law as well as ‘win win’ options for Palestine and Israel to share water resources under a future peace agreement. It was through this work, and his extensive time spent in Palestine over the past decade and a half, that Dave became an outstanding and committed advocate for Palestinian freedom, human rights and social justice. He leaves behind a significant legacy, a body of invaluable and detailed work and a large group of international and Palestinian colleagues who loved him dearly as a mentor, friend and brother.

Dave was a force of nature and a very good friend to a number of us.  Working with Dave was a delight - and could often be hilarious.  We have many very happy and irreverent stories, often told, to remember him with.

Technically and professionally he was one of the finest consultants I have worked with, and possibly the best example of an associate who really was part of the ‘Adam Smith International Family’.

It is a profound privilege to have known Dave. On behalf of everyone at Adam Smith International, I express my deepest condolences to his family and all our thoughts are with them at this terrible time.

We are opening a book of condolence, so please email any messages and photos to

William Morrison
Managing Director, Adam Smith International