Associate Professor Merle Sowman

Director: Environmental Evaluation Unit
Mainstreaming environmental sustainability issues into planning, integrated coastal management, governance of coastal and fisheries resources
Associate Professor Merle Sowman


Merle Sowman is the Director of the EEU and Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at UCT. She obtained her PhD in the field of integrated coastal management from UCT in 1994, and has been involved in research, consulting and teaching on integrated environmental and coastal management since 1985. Her key areas of interest are mainstreaming environmental sustainability issues into sector planning and decision-making processes, co-management of coastal and small-scale fisheries resources, and procedures and methods of environmental assessment.

Over the years Merle has been involved in a diverse range of research and consulting projects, ranging from integrating environmental sustainability issues into the integrated development planning process in South Africa, through investigating the social, economic and institutional dimensions of the artisanal fisheries sector in countries falling within the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME), to assisting the FAO prepare technical guidelines on human dimensions of the Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries management. She is currently leading a team that is preparing a Sustainable Development Implementation Plan for the Western Cape government, the first action plan of its kind in South Africa.

Merle has participated in a number of environmental and coastal management policy formulation processes, and has served at local and international levels on various technical committees and advisory groups concerned with the management of coastal and small-scale fisheries resources. Merle has extensive training and capacity building experience in integrated environmental and coastal management, and has directed and/or trained on over 30 short courses and capacity building workshops throughout the SADC region.


Phone: (021) 6502863