& circular economy
The key areas for the OCCE
- Analyse the challenges and the water market in Europe;
- Promote improved wastewater management and regulatory developments in the sector;
- Enhance the role of the circular economy in ensuring the availability and quality of water; Multiply good practices in the management of water resources.
Population growth and climate change pose major emerging challenges related to water security. So (Also), we need to counterbalance these (new) considerable challenges with new solutions around the management of water resources.
This is a major issue that we must all tackle together, with a virtuous approach. It is about (in order to) prevent possible conflicts related to water. By 2050, according to estimates by the United Nations and if nothing is done by this deadline, it is approximately 5 billion humans who could be (risk to be) faced with situations of shortage of at least a month a year.
In addition, according to the UN, by 2030, total world demand for water should exceed supply by 40%.
Climate change, pollution, physical alteration of aquatic habitats and over-exploitation are the main factors affecting the quality and availability of water. Production-consumption systems require profound changes in order to anticipate insufficient water. This is the case of the agricultural sector which would require 20% more water by 2030; and 400% more for manufacturing industries. In response to this, the circular economy offers a long-term alternative through improved wastewater management.
80% of wastewater worldwide is not treated and therefore flows into waterways. This has harmful effects on the environment and human health. In 2018, only 40% of surface water in Europe reached the minimum ecological status set by the European Union. The main problems encountered are chemical pollution from the air, weathering of buildings and the spillage of nutrients from agricultural sources.
The circular economy in the water cycle
To meet these challenges, the concept of the circular economy is a sustainable solution which aims to reduce the impact on resources and the Earth and fight against pollution.
The transition to a circular economy will ensure the sustainability of human activity in the sector (industrial and domestic), will make it possible to preserve natural resources while making savings.
The existing linear model is not economically and environmentally viable. So we should rather consider water as part of a circular economy, where it retains its full value after each use.
It is therefore urgent and necessary to develop solutions based on nature, consisting in preserving ecosystems and imitating natural processes that have (already) proven themselves.
To do this, many existing solutions have shown their effectiveness, others can be thought of and made:
- Use of non-polluting purification systems that do not consume energy, in particular the phyto-purification technique which is also becoming more and more widespread and promotes the management of wastewater in urban areas.
- There are different types of refining processes such as disinfection or osmosis treatment.
- The recovery of rainwater to then ensure its redistribution.
- Smart technologies to avoid water loss in urban networks.
- Transformation of wastewater into an energy source - by recovering calories from wastewater and then generating energy.
10 Key OCCE Proposals
on the Circular Economy & Water
In order to participate in European debates (in the context of the new Directive for wastewater treatment) and the challenges of humanity, the OCCE is addressing its 10 proposals for climate, circular economy & amp; water.
- Reduce the water footprint & develop the reuse of water. For example, this would involve considering mobile or compact units at the places where the water resource is used, promoting its collection, treatment and re-use in short circuits ;
- Encourage the accessibility of reliable data and indicators applicable to the collection and treatment of wastewater;
- Establish an overview of national regulations in order to allow the choice of processes accessible to entrepreneurs wishing to invest in wastewater treatment ;
- Propose discussion platforms in order to standardize in an integrated way the activities of all the actors involved in improved wastewater management;
- Create standards and obligations for companies to treat wastewater across Europe;
- Include standards in the design of new buildings in order to be able to adapt the networks beforehand, and then facilitate the treatment of gray water;
- Initiate discussions on tariff and non-tariff instruments for regulating water demand;
- Identify and promote good practices from local players who have experienced water purification processes;
- Stimulate regional cooperation and public-private sector cooperation by informing stakeholders on the theme of water governance in Europe;
- Promote citizen participation in improved water management by developing local monitoring skills;
- Educate the general public (in all economic sectors) on the principles of the circular economy and their application in the management of water resources ;
- Think first of all about preventing impurities and water contamination (by reducing the use of agents harmful to the environment and human health) ;
- Sensitize society to the challenges linked to access to water in order to stimulate a change in consumption attitudes ;
- Creation of systems allowing the conservation and the economy of the water resource (ex. drip irrigation) .
Take part in these common challenges and bring your reflections and experiences in the field.