Department of Engineering / Profiles / Prof. Dick Fenner

Department of Engineering

Prof. Dick Fenner BSc (Hons) PhD CEng MICE FCIWEM


Dick Fenner

Emeritus Staff

Academic Division: Civil Engineering


Personal website

Research interests

Professor Fenner's current research interests include:

* Coupled resource management across the water-energy-land nexus

* Urban flood resilience in the UK

* Multi functional design and assessment of Blue- Green Infrastructure

* A systems approach to water, sanitation and sustainability issues in both developed and developing countries

* Engineering education for sustainable development


Fenner R.A. (2023) Reflections on Engineering Sustainability: Progress, Pedagogy, Principles, and Practice. Key note opening paper for 11th International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD23) Fort Collins, Colorado, June 18-21 2023

Fenner R.A., Sykes J., Ainger C., (2023) Sustainable Infrastructure-Principles into Practice Second Edition. ICE Publishing ISBN 978-0-7277-6671-7

Richards C., Tzachor A., Alvin S, Fenner R.A. (2023) Artificial Intelligence for water systems: rewards, risks and responsible, deployment Nature Water (Springer)

Fenner R.A., Cernev T, (2021) The implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. Futures (Elsevier) Published on-line March 2021

Fenner R.A. (2021) Common themes, accelerating progress and beyond 2030 Chapter 11 in Safe Water and Sanitation for a healthier world: A Global view of progress towards SDG6 (ed Rajapakse et alk) Springer

Ferguson C and Fenner R (2021) How natural flood management helps downstream urban drainage in various storm directions. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Water Management,

Slattery Z, Fenner R.A. (2021) Spatial Analysis of the Drivers , Characteristics and Effects of Forest Fragmentation, Sustainability 2021 13, 3246

Fenner R.A., Ainger C (2020) A review of sustainability in civil engineering: why much more commitment is needed ICE Proceedings – Civil Engineering Volume 137 issue 2 pp 69-77 May 2002

Kapetas L., Fenner R.A.(2020) An adaptation pathways approach to planning urban flood resilience Royal Society Philosophical Transactions A special edition on Urban Flood Resilience Volume 378 Issue 2168 3 April 2020 ISSN 1364-503X

Lake P., Fenner R.A. (2019) The influence of underlying stresses from environmental hazards on resilience in Bangladesh: a systems view. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science 10, pages 511–528 (2019) (published on-line 18 October 2019)

Upeshika Heenetigala, Leon Kapetas, Richard Fenner (2021) Building Resilience in Water Supply Infrastructure in The Face of Future Uncertainties: Insight from Cape Town' IWA Publishing 2021. Chapter 8 in Water-Wise Cities and Sustainable Water Systems: Concepts, Technologies,and Applications Editors: Xiaochang C. Wang and Guangtao Fu doi: 10.2166/9781789060768_0201

Fenner R.A., Digman C., (2020) Chapter 8 : Assessing the benefits of multi-functional blue green drainage solutions: Blue Green Cities: integrating urban flood risk management with Urban Infrastructure ICE Publishing ISBN: 9780727764195

Liddle E , Fenner R.A. (2019) Using causal loop diagrams to understand handpump failure in sub-Saharan Africa in “Using Systems Thinking to Improve the Outcomes of WASH Projects in Development” Edited by Kate Neely to be Published by Practical Action ISBN: 9781788530262.

Fenner R.A. (2017) Water: essential resource and critical hazard. Chapter 5 in Building Sustainable Cities of the Future: from small urban centres to megacities ( Ed Bishop JK.) , pp 75-98 (Springer) ISSN 1865-3529 ISBN 978-3-319-54456-4 DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-54458-8

Ainger C and Fenner R.A. (eds) (2106) Sustainable Water ICE Publishing February 2016 ISBN 978-0-7277-5773-9

Ainger C. and Fenner R.A. (2014) “Sustainable Infrastructure – Principles Into Practice”, ICE Publishing; December 2013 ISBN 978-0-7277-5754-8

Research projects

Current Projects :

  • PI, Managing Resilient Nexus Systems through Participatory Systems Dynamics Modelling (EU H2020)  (2021-2024)

Recent Projects

  • Co-I  CAPABLE  Cambridge Programme to Assist Bangladesh in Lifestyle and Environmental Risk Reduction  (GCRF  UKRC) (2017-2021)
  • PI, Achieving urban flood resilience in an uncertain future (EPSRC) (2016-2020)
  • PI, Multiple flood risk benefits in blue green cities (EPSRC) (2012-2016)
  • Co-I, Hidden Crisis: Unravelling past failures for future success in Rural Water Supply  (NERC) ( 2015-2019)
  • Co-I, Whole Systems Energy Modelling (Wholesem) (EPSRC)  (2013-2017)

Teaching activity

Teaching activity

  • Course Director for MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development (2002-2020)
  • Current Academic Lead for:

Sustainable  Infrastructure (an on-line 8 week distance learning module offered by Cambridge Advanced On-lie:n


Research opportunities

I am not currently accepting new PhD students under my supervision

Other positions

  • Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College
  • Editor-in-Chief for Cambridge Prisms: Water ( published by Cambridge University Press)
  • Member of Steering or Advisory Groups for CIRIA , BRE, Thames Water and Environment Agency
  • Guest Editor for Royal Society Philosophical Transactions A
  • Editorial Advisor for Springer Sustainable Development Goals Series and Nature Sustainability 
  • Editorial Panel Nature Sustainability
  • Editorial Board for Sustainability (Sustainable Engineering and Science Section) 


Dick Fenner BSc (Hons) PhD CEng MICE FCIWEM

Dick Fenner is Professor of Engineering Sustainability in Cambridge University's Engineering Department. He set up and led the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development for 18 years from 2002 to 2020. He is a Chartered Civil Engineer and a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management. His research interests focus on water, sanitation and sustainability issues in both developed and developing countries, with a focus on urban drainage and water industry asset maintenance.  

His research has included published work on: the asset maintenance of sewerage infrastructure, scale laws for hydrodynamic separation, algorithms for leak detection in water mains,   sensor arrays for monitoring sewage odour, modelling UV disinfection of greywater and recycling for single home use, a simplified climate impact assessment tool to evaluate  the impact of climate change on water treatment plant operation, the impacts of coupled resource management of water, energy and land on food security, multiple benefit evaluation of blue-green infrastructure, urban-rural interaction of Natural Flood Management, a systems analysis of the SDGs. In addition he has written extensively on issues relating to engineering education. He is joint editor/author (with Charles Ainger) of Sustainable Water, a book published in February 2016 and also co-author of Sustainable Infrastructure: Principles into Practice (published by ICE Publishing in 2014). Much of his work involves adopting a systems dynamics approach so that a wide range of interdependent factors are identified and understood in relation to the implementation of infrastructure projects ,

He is currently working on an EU  funded project on resilient nexus systems, Dick has published over 200  journal papers, book chapters and conference papers and has served on a number of editorial panels for the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Nature Sustainability and Sustainability and also on Steering Groups for the Environment Agency, Thames Water, Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) and the Building Research Establishment (BRE). He is an Emeritus  Fellow of Wolfson College and serves on the college's Sustainability Committee. He recently retired from his full time post in Cambridge University’s Centre for  Sustainable Development but continues to serve as Academic Lead for  a regular 8  week on-line modular programme in Sustainable Infrastructure and he  is the Joint Editor-in-Chief (with  Dragan Savic) for  a new Journal (Cambridge Prisms]: Water) launched by  Cambridge University Press in 2023.

He is the recipient of several awards from the ICE including the George Stephenson Gold Medal, R A Carr Prize (twice: 2007 and 2020) and James Watt Medal, the Senior Moulton Medal from the Institution of Chemical Engineers and a University of Cambridge Pilkington Teaching Prize. In June 2021 he was presented with the  Leo Jansen Award for best paper in the 10th International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD21) hosted by University College, Cork.