Knowledge-sharing is our best defense against climate change

Thinking outside the box is not always necessary; when we already have solid, well-proven technologies at hand, we need to focus more on putting them into play. 26-03-2020

On World Water Day, March 22nd, the UN published a new report: The United Nations World Water Development Report 2020. The report draws a gloomy picture of the climate and our future, and as quoted in the report, our world is in actual danger.

Around one million animal and plant species are facing extinction. Freshwater species have suffered the greatest decline since 1970, falling by as much as 84%. Humans are too infected, especially regarding water supply; around four million people experience severe physical water scarcity for at least one month per year. A situation only exacerbated by the ongoing climate crisis.
As the planet warms, water has become one of the main ways in which we experience the changing climate. Yet, water is rarely brought up in the climate debate or in the international climate agreements, even though it plays a significant role in issues such as food security, production of energy, poverty reduction and economic development.

This falls into line with our strong opinion that water deserves a lot more attention on the global climate agenda; including the debates on energy production and health in general. Water is the source to all life and development on the planet, and wise management can have immense impact on how we address the 17 UN goals on sustainable development.

illustration of the water circle

The model shows how water is inextricably linked to human survival, health and quality of life, but also that there is a nexus between water and energy. Water demands energy and vice versa – at least the conventionally produced kind. This means that if we can move towards more production of renewable energy, we will have more water available for other purposes. By using the resources from wastewater treatment processes, we can save energy and at the same time lower our carbon emissions. The best energy is the energy never used. And by lowering the global non-revenue water levels through network optimisation, we can gain much more from the available water on our planet.

In short, water does not need to be an issue. In fact, it can be part of the solution. It can contribute by securing enough food for our increasing populations, protect wetlands and increase the life quality for cities and communities.

We need to spread the word about existing technologies
The report states that, even though we need to focus on research and development, it is just as important to implement the already known and well-proven technologies. There are plenty to choose from, and with sufficient awareness and education, this is the way we can - and should - change our path.

80% of all human-induced wastewater is discharged directly into nature without any prior treatment. This should be collected, treated, and the remaining sludge should be utilised for energy production. If the treated water can then be discharged into a nearby area, expenses can be cut on the energy bill. Discharging into a nearby area can create a constructed wetland contributing with biodiversity and recreative areas. Through controlled seeping to the groundwater, cities are not in danger of sinking due to overexploited groundwater reserves, which is an issue many larger cities are dealing with today.

Introducing known technology will only happen through more awareness, proper education and through initiatives such as capacity programs. Our Summer school, which runs under the name “Advanced Water Cycle Management Course”, is our contribution in this area. With the latest knowledge at hand, and with a holistic approach to water’s entire journey throughout society, we focus on obtaining the most efficient supply and treatment processes. This means to look at water as something we borrow and return in the best possible ways to maintain the crucial balance in our ecosystem.

Learn more about our water management course here.

Låsby Søpark, which is shown on the image to the right, is a good example of how water can improve the livability. Property values have increased with more than half a million DKK for the surrounding properties, and there is room for outdoor activities, sports and recreation.

"Water is immensely valuable. The value of access to safe water and to sanitation and hygiene services goes well beyond the price paid at the tap, and is a vital input to and a recipient of the ecosystem services that sustain all life on Earth.” – UN report 2020

Climate change affects water management worldwide
Water and climate are also inseparably linked. While better management can help reduce carbon emissions, climate too has an immense impact on water and wastewater handling. Drought speaks for itself, while flooding has a damaging effect on pipelines and water infrastructure in general. Extreme rain creates overflow from sever pipes, creating pollution and poses severe health risks. The report estimates that around 250,000 more people will die towards 2030 due to malnutrition, malaria and diarrhea. Climate changes is considered a poverty multiplier, capable of pushing more than 100 million people into poverty.

Finally, the report states that water resource management is currently vastly underfinanced and in need of much greater attention from governments worldwide.


United Nations World Water Development Report 2020

Read the full report at UN's website. The report aims at informing about the opportunities that improved water management offers in terms of adaptation and mitigation.

Go to UN website

Solutions to water challenges on a global scale

Learn more about water challenges worldwide, and the many possibilities for optimising management - saving water, energy, carbon emissions and valuable efforts.

Go to knowledge area

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Cost-effective, eco-friendly centralisation project at Danish wastewater plant

With help from AVK, Mariagerfjord wastewater plant has been able to expand its capacity, cut costs and significantly reduce their environmental impact.
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