Damir Brdanovic Prof., PhD, MSc

Head of the EEWT Department


The professional mission of Prof. Brdjanovic is to contribute to knowledge development, research and capacity building in the urban sanitation field.

Areas of interest include provision of sanitation to the urban poor, on-site decentralized sanitation, urban drainage, wastewater collection, treatment and reclamation/reuse, and residuals management.

His operations are positioned within an urban and peri-urban context and range from centralized to decentralized approaches, advanced versus low-cost technologies, and engineered versus natural systems. A unifying vision of these activities is integrated management of the urban water cycle. Besides traditionally well-established research areas such as advanced nutrient removal processes and activated sludge modelling, Prof. Brdjanovic’s research group is becoming increasingly visible by carrying out research related to emergency sanitation, resource-oriented sanitation, faecal sludge management, anaerobic treatment, membrane bio-reactors and infrastructure asset management. A further focus is on sanitation provision to the urban poor, urban wastewater management integrating sewage collection, urban drainage and wastewater treatment (and beyond), use of seawater for sanitation, sludge management, and nutrient and energy recovery from wastewater and sludge.

Given the specific mission of the UNESCO-IHE and the environment in which it operates, Prof. Brdjanovic demonstrates the necessary balance of research, education and capacity-building experience and skills, and a clear view of the needs of developing countries and countries in transition. Research activities embody experimental work at laboratory, pilot, and field scales as well as mathematical modelling work, including decision support and process optimization in municipal and industrial applications. He has a strong research relationship with Delft University of Technology and a number of leading research groups worldwide. It is particularly keen on developing collaborative partnerships with academia and institutions from developing countries. Prof. Brdjanovic has sound scientific and educational publication record featuring bestselling textbook and online course “Biological Wastewater Treatment: Principles, Modeling and Design” prepared together with dozen or so professors from research groups around the world that have made significant contributions to the advances in wastewater treatment.

Prof. Brdjanovic started his professional carrier in 1988 in Yugoslavia as a graduate of University of Sarajevo, in 90's he worked for large consultancy firms in UK and the Netherlands and started his academic career in 2002 at UNESCO-IHE in Delft. Throughout his professional career, he worked in more than 30 countries and managed a number of large and complex engineering projects, education projects and advisory assignments, often multi-disciplinary in nature and involving conflicting interests.

At UNESCO-IHE he has convincingly demonstrated his organizational skills and leadership capabilities in an academic environment. Prof. Brdjanovic has proved capable of the acquisition of large project and research funds, just to mention the latest flagship project "Stimulating local innovation in sanitation for Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia" , a grant of USD 8 million provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He has initiated the development and implementation of innovative didactic approaches in education within the Sanitary Engineering specialization and the Masters Program in Municipal Water and Infrastructure at UNESCO-IHE where in excess to 70 Master students graduate under his supervision so far. In addition he was also instrumental in establishing the wastewater research laboratory at UNESCO-IHE in 2010. Currently his chair group consists of seven staff members, two post-doctoral fellows and 8 PhD students.

Prof. Brdjanovic holds also a professorial appointment at Delft University of Technology (Faculty of Applied Sciences - TNW) and has built up a considerable cooperation record with TNW (Prof. Mark van Loosdrecht) and Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geo Sciences - CiTG (Prof. Jules van Lier). Since October 2011, Prof. Brdjanovic is the Head of Environmental Engineering and Water Technology Department of UNESCO-IHE which includes three chair groups and laboratory staff.