Global Wastewater Initiative

Wastewater: The Issue

Wastewater is a global concern. It has a direct impact on the biological diversity of aquatic ecosystems, disrupting the fundamental integrity of our life support systems on which a wide range of sectors from urban development to food production and industry depend.

Poorly managed wastewater leads to:

  • Loss of ecosystem services and economic opportunities
  • Climate change through wastewater-related emissions of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), which have higher global warming potentials than CO2
  • Spreading of ‘Dead Zones’ impacting fisheries, livelihoods and the food chain
  • Health impacts due to waterborne diseases.

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Properly managed wastewater is a valuable resource and a solution to more than one problem.

It is a source of water and nutrients that can be used for crop production, reducing the need for scarce freshwater and expensive fertilizers.

Wastewater sludge can also be used to manufacture construction materials and to generate biogas and biofuel, thus providing opportunities for green jobs, sustainable development and social well-being.