The Wastewater and Water Quality Sub-Consultation Home Page

Welcome to the Wastewater and Water Quality Homepage

This discussion is co-organized by UN-Habitat, AquaFed, UNEP, International Water Association and OECD. The stream aims to facilitate discussions on key priority issues for the inclusion of wastewater management in the future development agenda. The discussions will unpack experiences from the present MDG and focus on options and opportunities in wastewater management as an untapped resource and important contributor to public health. We look forward to your contributions! The Sub-Consultation on Wastewater Management and Water Quality has taken place through discussions on five specific themes, please read and comment on the synthesis paper below.

The Wastewater Management and Water Quality Sub-Consultation Synthesis Report: Please Click Here to Download, Read, and Comment!


Wastewater and Water Quality Framing Paper: Click Here & Comment

Please Click on a Past Week Below to Visit that Discussion

The pace of urbanization is a critical issue governing the production and use of wastewater. Large urban areas, and also the many unplanned smaller urban centers, present the biggest threat to our public health and the health of our ecosystems. A more comprehensive approach to wastewater management is needed to respond to this challenge.  Cities also represent opportunities for introduction of sustainable approaches to managing resources, yet wastewater remains a politically unattractive issue. Have your voice heard on the challenges and opportunities for wastewater in your city!


This week’s topic comes with an urgent call to act. Large populations are dependent on the coasts and oceans and the resources they provide for their survival and well-being. However, these ecosystems are being degraded due to human activities on land. According to the Sick Water? report (UNEP & UN-Habitat, 2010), up to 90 % of wastewater flows untreated into densely populated coastal areas, resulting in excessive nutrient loads in the receiving water bodies (rivers, lakes, groundwater and coastal waters). This undermines biological diversity, natural resilience and the capacity to provide fundamental ecosystem services, impacting both rural and urban populations and affecting sectors from health to industry, agriculture, fisheries and tourism. Share your views and suggestions on how we can tackle this challenge.

Focusing on all residuals from different forms of sanitation system as well as other types of wastewater and sludge from commercial, industrial and agricultural activities; this week’s topic of the global consultation on the proposed Sustainable Development Goal on Water focuses on the opportunities for water reuse and the benefits that these practices bring from perspectives of the environmental protection, natural resource management, urban water cycle management, climate change mitigation and sustainable socio-economic development.

Almost all uses of water cause some form of pollution and loss of water quality. In urban situations, many such uses cannot be avoided and in addition surface water, rainfall and run-off also becomes polluted. Dirty water poses many problems and always flows into other waters thus polluting them too. There is therefore a strong case for collecting wastewater so that it can be cleaned up to protect downstream waters and users or to be used again for other purposes. Why is this not done more frequently? Could this be the “blind side” of the water cycle? This week we invite you to examine the ways in which used water can be collected and de-polluted effectively.

Worldwide, pollution from untreated wastewater is projected to increase dramatically, harming people, ecosystems and the economy. The potential benefits of improved wastewater treatment and better water quality are significant. Wastewater can also be part of the solution – as a source of water in water-scarce areas when treated “fit for use”. Improved financing and better governance are critical to addressing the challenge and realising the economic opportunities. Clearly, there is much to be done. How can successful efforts be scaled-up? How can policy and institutional barriers overcome?

Current WATER HOME PAGE TOPIC: To address the competing water needs for the water, energy and food nexus means exploring opportunities to optimize water infrastructure and technology that will help shape and achieve the Post 2105 Development agenda.  We need to bridge the sectoral divide and have a vision that encompasses sustainable development which makes sure there is sufficient water for multiple uses without compromising the needs of other areas such as agriculture and energy. Join the discussion and share your ideas and solutions to the water-energy-food nexus!

Week 1: Wastewater in an Urbanizing World
Week 2: Impact of wastewater on oceans-nitrogen & phosphorous challenge
Week 3: Wastewater reuse-development, innovation
Week 4: Collecting and treating urban water after use
Week 5: Economic opportunities in wastewater

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