Blog | World Water Day 2021: Valuing Water means Keeping this Vital Resource Clean

Mar 22, 2021 | All Working Groups, ISWA newsletter

Sound waste management practices are the key to reducing pollution in our rivers and water bodies, and subsequently our oceans. ISWA has been exploring and clearly establishing the link between sound waste management and the necessary measures to prevent waste reaching our oceans.

World Water Day 2021, celebrated on 22nd March, is about what water means to people, its true value and how we can better protect this vital resource. World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the global water crisis, and how we can support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

It is estimated that every year at least 8 to 13 million tonnes of plastic, the equivalent of one full refuse truck per minute, finds its way into the world???s oceans. If no action is taken, this number is expected to increase to two full refuse trucks of plastics per minute by 2030, and four per minute by 2050.

IT IS TIME TO TURN OFF THE TAP and address the source of this problem.

Water has enormous and complex value for our households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment and the value of water is about much more than its price. If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this very finite, irreplaceable resource. SDG 6 is to ensure water and sanitation for all ??? without a comprehensive understanding of water???s true, multidimensional value, we will be unable to safeguard this critical resource for the benefit of everyone.

Through ISWA???s Marine Litter Task Force, established 2017, and various other projects around the world, ISWA aims to stop waste from reaching our water bodies and, subsequently, the oceans by deploying sustainable waste management solutions worldwide. According to ISWA???s 2017 Global Report on Marine Litter, it???s only possible to keep waste out of water bodies by improving solid waste management inland and tackling the leakage spots, which are usually related to a malfunctioning in a city???s waste system.

The ISWA Marine Litter Task Force aims to prevent littering and dumping of waste items, especially in areas where there is an absence of a suitable collection infrastructure. The Task Force has dedicated its attention and efforts in different parts of the world, towards the assessment of how much and what types of waste reaches our oceans,  to share and develop best practices for sound collection and disposal of municipal waste, and to identify and demonstrate realistic solutions that can be adopted by local, regional, and national authorities in order to prevent materials reach water bodies.

As an example of such initiatives, the Integrated Solutions to Fight Water Sources Pollution Towards Plastic Recovery and Circularity in Environmentally Protected Regions in Brazil project, funded by the Swedish EPA, is currently being implemented with the objective to prevent or reduce the use of single-use plastic products, accelerate the transition towards a circular economy, prevent water pollution from land based sources while also promoting a global evolution of efficient resource management.

The Clean Oceans through Clean Communities (CLOCC) project, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, fosters knowledge sharing and collaboration among all stakeholders to reduce marine litter and plastic pollution, by improving waste management system in communities. The project utilizes a strategic approach, ISWM (Integrated Sustainable Waste Management), and draws on the knowledge from a network of highly skilled waste management practitioners and trainers to support the development of local waste management plans and access to finance for infrastructure and debottlenecking in material recovery ecosystems.

A major tool to assist on related researches and support the implementation and development of such projects is the ISWA Plastics Pollution Calculator, developed in partnership with the University of Leeds,  to identify the mechanisms of plastic leakage, key hotspots, and potential solutions and directed to help governments in effectively and efficiently combating marine litter. The Calculator is a scientific tool to measure marine litter origins, its flows, and most importantly to suggest tailor-made engineered solutions and policy interventions to eliminate those sources of water pollution.

Marine litter has become a global problem as waste in the water does not respect territory boundaries. Thus it???s urgent to consider the need of stronger global cooperation to deal with all aspects related to marine litter and prepare a concrete answer to achieve the goals set by the SDGs to be accomplished by 2030. ISWA aims to bring the international community together to discuss, analyze and implement solutions to tackle the causes behind water pollution caused by solid waste.

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