Water and Environment

The Water and Environment theme is developed in response to the major challenges the world faces regarding freshwater resources and environmental sustainability. Steadily increasing global populations along with even greater agricultural production lead to increased pollution of surface and ground waters and enhance the pressure on the water resources used for drinking water supply, in food production and industry.

Furthermore, the current and predicted future climate change will result in a redistribution of precipitation and higher temperatures are to be expected, implying that droughts will spread to larger areas of the world than today. Therefore, food production will become concentrated within a smaller area, entailing an enhanced risk of increased pollution of ground waters and surface waters and loss of biodiversity.

Ways to combat the challenges are increasing water efficiency in agricultural production, creating more effective ways to control pollutants, improving freshwater quality and designing smarter integrated land and water management systems. Rethinking water use and management technologies is a huge industrial business opportunity as well as a societal necessity but requires integration of knowledge and management strategies.

A strong cross-national research foundation

Danish universities and research institutes have an internationally recognised position and Denmark is considered a leading country within the field of water and environment. Due to strong environmental legislation and enforcement, Danish public and private sector organisations have comprehensive expertise in implementing well-functioning water management policies in practice.

China is a region with vast and unique water challenges, and government and industry are committed to heavy investments in research and technology. Research is highly prioritised in China and the number of excellent research environments is increasing as well as the number and quality of research publications and candidates with a strong water and environmental profile.

Research opportunities within water and environment

The water and environment research area within the framework of SDC deals with freshwater science and it engages scientists with various backgrounds from environmental engineers and chemists and biologists to agronomists and specialists in environmental economy and planning.

The approach is cross disciplinary and based on catchment thinking. This means that the chemical, biological and physical processes and environmental aspects of studying groundwater, land, and lakes are placed in the catchment perspective. For example, how leaching of soil phosphorous from intensive agricultural production leaching can be limited and avoid pollution of freshwater ecosystems. The catchment thinking includes research on many scales from laboratory to field systems and description of new knowledge in computer models.

SDC PhD students are at the core of the research collaboration. They all work with both a Danish and a Chinese supervisor, do research in both countries and contribute to teaching the Master’s programmes at SDC in Beijing. This close connection provides the PhD students with a unique opportunity to establish personal and professional relationships and bring Danish and Chinese research environments closer together.

The collaboration provides scientists with an immense opportunity to be part of the fast developing science on water related issues in China and to undertake exceptional research on a large scale due to the climate of China spanning from subarctic to tropical and the topography ranging from gigantic mountains to lowlands and deserts.

Principal Coordinators

Peter Engelund Holm


Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

University of Copenhagen


Phone: +45 35 33 24 14

Mobile: +45 30 50 77 14

Song Xianfang


Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research

Chinese Academy of Sciences


To discuss proposals for research activities, which can strengthen SDC's activities within the research area or the related Master’s programme, please contact the Principal Coordinators.

MSc in Water and Environment

PhD students

View Nika Bilic's profile at

Nika Bilic

DTU Sustain, Technical University of Denmark

Topic: Investigating and modelling PFAS leaching from landfills to groundwater and surface water

Starting date: 1 January 2024

View Taza Gul's profile at

Taza Gul
Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University

Topic: The influence of engineered biochar on root growth of annual and perennial crops from a physicochemical and morphophysiological perspective

Starting date: 1 June 2023

View Vasileios Chrysochoidis' profile at

Vasileios Chrysochoidis

Department of Environmental Resource Engineering, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Topic: Modelling Water Quality of Wet-Weather Emissions from Urban Drainage Systems

Starting date: 15 December 2022

View Zhiming He's profile at

Zhiming He

Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Topic: The effect of Biocides on Antimicrobial Resistance

Starting date: 1 December 2021

View Monica Coppo Frias's profile at

Monica Coppo Frias

Department of Environmental Engineering, DTU

Topic: Monitoring China's inland water with satellite earth observations and unmanned airborne platforms

Starting date: 1 December 2020

View Jacopo Cogorno's profile at

Jacopo Cogorno

Department of Environmental Engineering DTU

Topic: Transport of PFAS in subsurface porous media and groundwater flow systems

Starting date: 1 November 2020