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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Developing resilient water management strategies for the city of Belgrade

Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, has numerous water-related problems, such as an aged water supply system, high overall water demand, a poorly managed stormwater system, and no wastewater treatment plants. Because of climate changes and population growth, these pressures are expected to rise. Therefore, developing strategies that will provide Belgrade with resilient and sustainable water management services are crucial, and those solutions should primarily address stormwater and wastewater practices. The main research questions that this study aims to answer are what sustainable water system vision Belgrade can reach by 2050, which strategies should be taken towards that goal and what are the opportunities and barriers for the organisational change of Belgrade’s water management. The literature review provides suitable bases, as different transition models (like the Safe and SuRe approach and Urban Water Transition Framework - UWTF) are already described by previous researchers, whereas Blue Green (nature-based) solutions are chosen to be applied in this study. Based on the literature review, a system thinking method is applied, and a causal loop diagram on water management is developed, where balanced loops are determined. Outcomes are used to better understand connections between water management elements. Next, the position of Belgrade water systems is defined, and the 2050 development vision is provided. UWTF is followed by 6 phases during which the transition process of Belgrade to a more resilient city is gradually conducted until 2050. During the planning process, the backcasting method is used, as it offers the freedom to estimate forward steps from the current situation. Results (or proposed strategies) include the correction of current plans with novel solutions, organising the Institute for Water Issues that would, together with the Belgrade Government and local Belgrade Water and Sewerage Company (BWSC), follow and control the process, public campaigns for education purposes, and implementation of the most appropriate Blue Green solutions (green roofs, retention and detention gardens, infiltration trenches, permeable pavement, artificial wetlands, separation of water network and others). Construction of modern wastewater treatment facilities (Bioparks) is offered, and their impact on water management is described. The main findings include the prevention of the following barriers – lack of communication, public participation, and corruption. In the next step, the organisational change of BWSC is developed following the model proposed by Kotter (1996). That change is needed as BWSC is the only Belgrade company dealing with water issues, and recommendations are to cut the company’s non-technical losses and develop a new payment system where big users will pay more. In conclusion, it is stated that solutions must holistically consider local needs, with constant improvement of proposed strategies.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.