Professor Julia Martin-Ortega

Professor Julia Martin-Ortega


 Julia's research aims to further the understanding of the relationships of society and individuals with water systems and how policy can best make use of this understanding to promote the sustainable management of water and land resources. For that, she uses principles and tools of environmental economics in combination with qualitative social sciences methods to develop inter/transdisciplinary approaches of impact-oriented nature.Graduated as Doctor in the University of Cordoba (Spain), Julia joined the Sustainability Research Insitute in July 2015, after 5 years as Senior Researcher at The James Hutton Institute in Scotland.

Julia is Associate Director of water@leeds, one of the largest interdisciplinary centres for water research in any university in the world. She is also member of the Steering Comittee of the Leeds Social Sciences Institue. Julia is also member of the Steering Committee of the Scottish Government’s Centre for Expertise in Waters and of the Swedish Research Council Panel on General Governance and Sustainability. She is Associate Editor of the journal Frontiers in Forest and Global Change and Academic Editor of PLOSOne. Julia is External Examiner for the MSc on Ecoystem Services of the University of Edingurgh.

She is author of 46 ISI-indexed publications and >46 other peer reviewed publications, including the first monograph on water ecosystem services, Water Ecosystem Services: A Global Perspective published by Cambridge University Press.

Three main research lines guide Julia's work:

  1. How to assess the impacts of changes in water systems on human welfare. Julia looks at the multiple values of water ecosystem services and how they can be assessed. This includes working with natural scientists to translate their understanding of biophysical processes and modelling results in terms of service delivery for the design of valuation research.
  2. How economic tools and principles can best be applied to attain sustainable water management. Julia looks to integrate outputs of hydrological modelling and stakeholder knowledge into the economic analysis of water management. Her work in this area has mostly taken place in the context of the European Water Framework Directive and in relation to Payments for Ecosystem Services in Latin America.
  3. How changes in the provision of ecosystem services compromise the capacity of communities to use and enjoy them and how communities adapt to these changes. This includes previous work on the economics of droughts and adaptation to climate change, and current work on ecosystem services-based approaches and community-based management of natural resources and scenario planning in Latin America and Africa.

Recent research projects include:

Julia is also interested in communicating scientific knowledge to the general public, producing materials like this video which explains the concept of Payments for Ecosystem Services in just 3 minutes! (a version in Spanish and with Mandarine subtitles also available).

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Payments for Ecosystem Services explained in 3 minutes



  • Associate Director water@leeds
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD
  • MSc
  • MBA

Professional memberships

  • European Association of Ecological Economics

Research groups and institutes

  • Sustainability Research Institute
  • Economics and Policy for Sustainability

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>