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Unlocking Potential: UN Report Highlights Wastewater’s Role as Energy and Water Resource

ESGUnlocking Potential: UN Report Highlights Wastewater's Role as Energy and Water Resource

Wastewater, previously considered a health and environmental hazard, holds untapped potential as an alternative energy and clean water source, according to a report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The report highlights that only 11% of treated wastewater is reused, and approximately 50% of untreated wastewater enters rivers, lakes, and seas. CO2 emissions from wastewater are significant, approaching levels from the global aviation industry.

The report suggests that with the right policies, wastewater could provide alternative energy for around half a billion people, offer over 10 times the water obtained from desalination, and reduce the demand for synthetic fertilizers.

Wastewater could generate biogas, heat, and electricity, producing five times more energy than needed for treatment. Proper wastewater management could help countries adapt to climate change and decrease water insecurity. Reusing nutrients from wastewater could offset a significant portion of the global agricultural nutrient demand.

The report showcases successful wastewater management examples from various countries, including both high and low-income nations, and emphasizes wastewater’s potential as a circular economy opportunity, generating jobs and revenue.

To unlock this potential, the report calls for effective governance, investment, innovation, data, and capacity building, as well as a shift in behavior from individuals and institutions.

To read the full report, click here.

By FCCT Editorial Team

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity.

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