Portsmouth Business School

Water and Aquatic Resources



Access to safe water and sanitation are major targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the key role of water in sustainable human development, social justice and gender equality.  Aquatic resources provide vital protein in low income communities, but also valuable ecosystem services to maintain agriculture, fisheries and health.  All these benefits are threatened by overexploitation, pollution and climate change.

This pillar draws on experts from the University of Portsmouth Environment Network (UPEN).

Topic 1: Water Resources Management


Water is a renewable resource; however, it is finite and exhaustible. There is increasing evidence that climate change is having an impact, and degradation further reduces available supplies of safe water. Demand for water, on the other hand, has increased in relation to supply, largely due to population growth, reducing per capita availability. Governance arrangements in contexts of stress and scarcity assumes greater significance, and many developing and middle-income countries, such as South Africa and Brazil, are pioneers of globally agreed principles for water resources management best practice with policies that pursue Integrated Catchment Management, stakeholder participation and devolution, and place an economic value on water.

Julia Brown has undertaken research evaluating the implementation of Catchment Management Agencies in South Africa, and questions whether participatory processes can overcome inherent power differentials. More recently, and in collaboration with the Federal University of Espírito Santo,Brazil; SOAS, University of London; the Environment Agency and the Westcountry Rivers Trust and she is exploring the establishment of Watershed Committees in Brazil. 

Rural Groundwater Management and the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

The Community Based Management Model dominates rural water management across Sub-Saharan Africa, however, at any one time, a third of handpumps are non-functional.  Working with Marije van den Broek (phd candidate) and The Water Trust (a Ugandan NGO) Julia Brown has explored the disappointing outcomes of the CBM model. Their focus now turns to evaluating alternatives to the CBM model because until there is a resolution to the financing of handpump maintenance, the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals will not be realised.

Topic 2: Fisheries and Ecosystem services


Developing countries export more fish products than all other commodities together (cacao, coffee, fruits, etc.). Links between trade, economic development and food security of developing countries, both coastal and landlocked with large freshwater surfaces, are therefore something that we have looked at with regard to many African, South East Asia, Pacific and Caribbean countries. Our research acknowledges that trade and fishery management are also closely linked: compliance with IUU (illegal, Unreported and unregulated) rules and implementation of new technical barriers to trade such as mandatory product certification impact on the way fisheries are operating. We have also published various reports and papers on the concept of the blue economy and ocean governance – where fisheries are considered to be just one element of the whole marine ecosystem. Within the context of climate change, we are currently developing different risk scenarios to help countries to mitigate and adapt to the negative impacts of sea level rise, water acidification, and higher sea temperatures (Andy Thorpe and Pierre Failler).

Ecosystem services valuation is a new area of intervention where Failler has produced methodological guidelines for the French Initiative for the protection of coral reefs (IFRECOR), the West African Network for Marine Protected Areas (RAMPAO) and for the International Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and also realised a series of studies in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Pacific and West Africa. He is currently contributing to the IPBES the review of the African ecosystem services valuation. Thorpemore recently has focused on the specific problems affecting fisheries development and livelihood opportunities within the Central Asian region.


The Pillar supports 3 inter-linked strands:

Pillar Lead: John Williams - Reader in Environmental Technology, School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Water Resource Management

Fisheries and Ecosystem services

Water and Sanitation Technologies

  • Brett Martinson - Senior Lectuer (School of Civil Engineering and Surveying)
  • John Williams - Reader in Environmental Technology (School of Civil Engineering and Surveying)

PhD Students:

1. Janine Robinson - Role of plants in sustainable drainage systems

2. Aliyu Shuaibu - Composting of hydrocarbon contaiminated sediments.

3. Sarah Percival - Use of GIS, with geospatial data and census date, to evaluate and map flood vulnerability.

4. llisriyani Ismail - A bio-Economic Model Approach: Measuring The Exploitation of the Peninsular Malaysia Fishery.

5. Marije van den Broek - Sustainable Rural Water Management; a case study in Uganda.