Knowledge for a sustainable world

BSc, PhD

Dr Stuart Bunting has over 20 years of experience in coordinating research and development projects and consultancy assignments, and he has an excellent knowledge of aquatic resources management, aquaculture development, small-scale fisheries governance and food systems. Stuart has completed projects in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Stuart joined NRI in Feb 2020 as a Senior Fellow in the Economics of Fish in Food Systems. As part of the NRI-WorldFish (FaNSI-CGIAR sponsored) collaboration he is conducting research into regional food systems in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on safeguarding and enhancing the contribution of fish to the food and nutrition security of poor people (especially children and women who are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition).

Stuart completed his PhD from the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, UK in 2002, and stayed on to coordinate two FCDO sponsored research projects in the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW), India. In 2005, Stuart joined the Centre for Environment and Society, led by Professor Jules Pretty, at the University of Essex, UK, where he coordinated two multi-disciplinary European Commission sponsored research projects focused on the wise use of mangroves (working in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam) and highland aquatic resources (working in China, India and Vietnam) in Asia. He also completed consultancy assignments for ADB concerning capacity-building for the management of the EKW, India and for The Crown Estate, UK, on assessing the greenhouse gas (CO2 equivalent) emissions and mitigation options for the UK marine aquaculture sector. In 2015, Stuart established his own consultancy firm and worked on a range of assignments, two of which were in collaboration with Professor David Little, at the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, and included supporting teaching and learning on the MSc in Sustainable Aquaculture. During this time, he also undertook bookkeeping and business administration tasks for an arable farm and a psychology practice.

Stuart has published over 20 peer reviewed scientific papers and over 100 chapters, conference papers and technical reports. His book entitled ‘‘Principles of Sustainable Aquaculture: Promoting Social, Economic and Environmental Resilience’’ was published by Routledge in 2013.

Stuart has also completed a range of postgraduate and undergraduate teaching and assessment and is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has delivered training provision for project partners and seminars for visiting delegations from China.

Stuart is committed to ensuring interactive stakeholder participation in his work and facilitating the development of innovative approaches to natural resources management and food systems coordination and governance that are sustainable and focused on improving the livelihoods of people.

Stuart believes that adopting a food systems approach is crucial to making sure that fish reaching consumers is nutritious and safe and that waste is avoided, whilst action is required to ensure that individuals across value chains are free from exploitation and work in a safe environment. By better understanding and articulating the economic and nutritional significance of fish in regional food systems, livelihoods, and ecosystems, this could raise awareness, mobilise resources and support, and help guide policy recommendations and future research for development investments. This will be done with the primary aim of safeguarding and enhancing the contribution of fish to human nutrition and cognitive development, food security, livelihoods and sustaining supporting ecosystems.

Fish in Food Systems in the African Great Lakes Region: Economic Impact of Fish in Food Systems

Research is focused on understanding the economic and nutritional significance of fish from the African Great Lakes Region (AGLR) in economic development and human nutrition, food security, livelihoods, and ecosystems and how this can be safeguarded and enhanced. At a program level, this work is aligned to FISH CRP Flagship 2: Sustaining small-scale fisheries, and Cluster 3, that aims to understand and enhance the role of fish in regional food systems and the nutrition and food security of poor people (FISH, 2017). The work will adopt a ‘research agenda that situates fish in the broader food system and accounts for patterns of production, distribution, preparation and consumption’ (Hicks et al., 2019, p97). Research will focus on the current and future potential economic and nutritional contribution of fish (notably dried fish within value chains) to poor and vulnerable consumers, especially women and children, where fish has been demonstrated to play a crucial role in their nutrition and food security.

Challenge Prize in Aquaculture for Global Development: Better Nutrition, Improved Livelihoods, Protected Ecosystems

Stuart completed a review 'Evaluating opportunities for innovations across aquaculture product value chains for poverty reduction in Bangladesh and India' working with the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling on this collaborative project with nesta and Forum for the Future sponsored by the Global Innovation Fund. He then contributed to framing four challenge prizes (disease diagnostics, integrated services delivery, nutritional product development, sludge management) with the goal of enhancing livelihoods and nutritional outcomes associated with aquaculture development in Bangladesh and India.

Highland Aquatic Resources Conservation and Sustainable Development (HighARCS)

Working as the overall lead project coordinator, Stuart managed this collaborative initiative sponsored by the European Commission (Contract Number 213015) that involved 10 partners in China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Europe over 5 years. Billions of people depend on aquatic resources, however, an estimated 50% of wetlands have been lost and more than 20% of freshwater species are known to be threatened. The HighARCS (Highland Aquatic Resources Conservation and Sustainable Development) project addressed these issues in highland regions of Asia where dependence for livelihoods is especially high. Given the dynamic nature and high vulnerability of aquatic resources to global climate change the HighARCS project met the urgent need to consolidate and enhance knowledge and foster approaches to joint assessment and decision-making amongst stakeholders. Responsibilities included preparing and submitting the proposal, overall project management and reporting to the European Commission and the coordination of integrated action planning and bioeconomic modelling of farming systems [Bunting et al. 2015. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability]. The Wetland Resources Action Planning (WRAP) toolkit [] provides a comprehensive account of integrated action planning [Bunting et al. 2016. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management] and better management practices to promote wise use of aquatic resources.

Stuart has served as a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability (Taylor & Francis) since 2015 and as a member of the Elsevier Advisory Panel since 2016. Stuart has peer reviewed over 150 scientific papers and has been recognised as an outstanding reviewer for Aquaculture, Heliyon, Land Use Policy and World Development. He has extensive experience of acting as scientific evaluator for EC and UK Research Council projects.

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