In August 2023, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released a report called Wastewater: Turning Problem to Solution. It recognises the “triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and rampant pollution” and urges all different stakeholders to “accelerate action to beat wastewater pollution while harnessing its underutilised potential”. 20 case studies are presented with ideas and innovations, and the Malmö case study from the REWAISE project is one of them.
For those of you who have not followed this specific case study within the REWAISE project, it consists of a urine-separating toilet integrated with a urine dryer. VA SYD, one of our consortium partners, installed the toilet in their offices and has proven to be able to evaporate 10 litres of urine a day, being serviced once a month.
The report shows other 19 innovative ideas from all over the world to improve wastewater management and tackle the triple planetary crisis. It is a follow-up on Sick water? The central role of wastewater management in sustainable development, a report put together by UNEP, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and GRID-Arendal in 2010, where these organisms called for a more intelligent wastewater management.
Since the 2010 report, some progress has been made towards a Water-Smart society and the current UNEP wastewater report is a proof of it. However, the evidence shows that, despite the improvements, there is still a long way to go, and changes are occurring slower and at a lower scale than expected. But it also provides 6 building blocks to help policy and decision makers lead the necessary transformational change in sustainable wastewater management.
1. Ensuring effective and coherent governance and legislation to create an enabling political and regulatory environment.
2. Mobilizing adequate and sustained investment and access to financing to optimize the wastewater value chain; to create markets for resource recovery; and to facilitate business opportunities and investment by the private sector.
3. Enhancing human, technical, and institutional capacity at all levels (from local to global) to empower others to act on a shared vision.
4. Enabling technical and social innovation to establish new approaches and equitable solutions that are appropriate to different socioeconomic-environmental situations.
5. Delivering robust data collection and information management to support implementation, learning and ensure accountability.
6. Increasing communication, awareness, and transparency to build trust to support behaviour change and social acceptance.