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Circular Water Management 2: Closing the H20 loop

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Executive Summary

Lead contributor: Dr. Hernan Ruiz Ocampo

Following the framework described, this chapter presents the intersection between the third principle of Circular Economy adapted to the water sector, the regeneration of natural basin systems, at the macro level, involving integrated urbanwater management as an essential component towards developing a water ecosystem. Climate change impacts urban areas with greater frequency and exposes cities on floodplains to extreme cloudbursts events, and rising sea levels is also a threat for coastal cities. A holistic approach for regenerating natural basin systems to provide a reliable water supply and considering multistakeholder governance participation will engage all the actors across the water value chain to create a collaborative ecosystem. The chapter presents the OECD principles for water governance grouped into three concepts: effectiveness, efficiency, trust, and engagement. 

Appropriate integrated urban water management needs to build resilience against the risk of floods in cities and preserve freshwater and groundwater resources. Urban planning needs to consider investing in water utilities and promote hybrid grey and green infrastructures to reduce water loss andoperating costs. The systemic approach will allow developing a collaborative environment from water utility management to the consumer and vice versa, fostering citizen inclusion and influencing citizen behaviour. 

In this sense, identifying enablers in the water sector play an essential role in the transition to the Circular Economy. Digital technologies will allow the smart management of water utilities. Novel technologies have an enormous potential for applications in the water value chain, such as sensors, monitoring and forecasting, data processing (ML, AI), augmented, virtual and digital twin reality and blockchain. Novel technologies will enable the remote monitoring of multiple treatment parameters in water utilities. Process optimization and predictive maintenance through sensors and connected equipment will optimize processes to reduce operational costs and time reaction to prevent failures in the system. Consumer monitoring consumption through the web, mobile and home connected devices aim to improve customer engagement through an enhanced digital user experience. 

Finally, circular business models implementation will create an ecosystem where water streams become a source of nutrients, minerals, metals for industries. The diversification of water sources allows fit for use water quality, and energy production offers an alternative source to the power distribution grid. The mapping of the strategies defined in the circular water framework into different circular design strategies from the literature, such as the resource cycles approach, allowed to propose a business model tool based on the traditional business canvas and the value creation, value proposition, value delivery and value capture approach. 

Thus, the chapter aims to guide the readers through an overview of the water sector from a macro perspective, contributing to a water framework and showing the different approaches and tools for a successful transition to the Circular Economy in the water sector. 

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Discover what's inside

What are the challenges to come for water management?

By 2050, urban areas will host 70% of the global population, pushing industrial and domestic water to grow faster than agricultural demand, but agriculture will remain the largest. Discover the challenges of water management in the transition to the Circular Economy.

How to regenerate natural basins systems?

Discover how circular strategies can provide adequate Integrated Urban Water Management to close the loop at the macro level and develop healthier and resilient cities towards climate change, where sanitation, sewerage, and clean water supply are essential for building a liveable city.

How can governance enable the Circular Economy transition?

Governance plays a crucial role in the transition. Learn how the OECD framework for water governance supports adaptative measures to specific conditions based on diverse legal, administrative, and organizational systems and tools from different countries.

How to ensure water security?

Water security is a growing concern due to the increase of conflicts related to water accessibility. Explore the main issues related to limits, usages, and rights over water resources and how disagreement can become a source of conflict due to a lack of understanding between parts.

What about water infrastructures?

Learn how Integrated Urban Water Management can foster the implementation of modular blue-green infrastructures that can provide climate change resilience for urban areas, reduce combined sewer overflow and flooding, and extend the life cycle of water utilities.

How can digital technologies enable the Circular Economy in the water sector?

Explore the digital technologies that offer unlimited potential to transform the world’s water systems, helping utilities become more resilient, innovative, efficient, and building a stronger and more economically viable foundation for the future.

Which mechanisms can foster citizen engagement in the water sector?

Consumer requirements and behavior have always played an important role in service delivery, and citizen participation is essential for the transition. Learn through examples how to foster interdependent relationships between water utilities and consumers.

What is the value of water?

Learn now through the circular strategies for business models and the relationship with the water strategies how to implement circular services and products, minimizing socio-economic and societal impact towards the transition to the Circular Economy.

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Enrollment Information

  • Once you have enrolled, you will be given access to our Learning Management System.
  • The course is entirely online and self-paced. We estimate that the total effort required to be 3 hours.
  • You will be guided through the original content of the course with dynamic, rich, enjoyable, narrated, and easy-to-understand content. The course is divided into easily navigated sections focusing at each stage on the learning objectives to be achieved. Each section is followed by non-graded “knowledge check questions”, to help you ensure that you have successfully assimilated the content. You can go back and view the content as often as you like.
  • When you reach the end of the course, you will be awarded the Certificate of Completion.

What you will gain

  • Access to one Circular Economy course, with free access to the content for one year.
  • A digitally enabled, verifiable, and shareable certificate acknowledging your achievement.
  • One-year free membership in the Circular Economy Alliance Community, including access to Circular Economy Alliance members, resources, and events.
  • Special access to Circular Economy related events, research, resources, and news.

Please note:

  • In many EU countries, the cost of certification can be covered by personal or corporate “training accounts”. Please inquire within your organization or with the appropriate institution within your country for more information.


Circular Economy Alliance Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics

The Circular Economy Alliance platform, services, and products are designed to appeal to and be used by people from a wide variety of different backgrounds, countries, religions, and cultural norms. These diversity and inclusiveness are core values of the CEA, and we encourage our Community to embrace it and share it. That said, this geographic and cultural diversity can make effective communications and general policy definition a bit challenging.

That said, CEA is committed to advancing the transition to a just and inclusive Circular Economy which aims to decouple economic growth from resource use, eliminate waste by design, and tackle climate change. To achieve its mission and vision of a socially fair Circular Economy, CEA has adopted the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility and endeavours to promote the common good while creating value for all stakeholders. With this in mind, the Code of Conduct has been developed to ensure all activity on the platform and within the CEA community is mutually respectful. The Code of Ethics sets out the guiding ethical principles relative to all professional activities of the certified members of the Circular Economy Alliance, informs the actions of our partner network, and defines the conduct of CEA staff and persons acting on behalf of the Company.

The purpose of our Code of Conduct & Code of Ethics is to ensure that the Circular Economy Alliance platform (the Platform), products and services are inclusive and that we, our members, and our community uphold the principles and values linked to Circular Economy, social responsibility, sustainable development and all relevant domains, to ensure that people and the planet are not harmed in the name of profit, and that we all conduct ourselves with mutual respect.

Code of Conduct

The CEA Code of Conduct reflects the ethics and values of the Platform, product, services, and community. It has been prepared with members of the CEA community (the Community), content contributors, instructional designers, and administrators based on established best practices. With the involvement of our stakeholders, we will continue to update the Code of Conduct as we add new products, services, and activities and as we receive feedback from our learners and community members.

We cannot foresee all eventualities and align with all local regulations, so the Code of Conduct should indicate the nature of interactions and the social dynamic we would like to see on this Platform and within the Community. In the event of an issue not covered by this Code of Conduct, the CEA team will decide whether a behavior is acceptable or not, in a manner that is as fair and transparent as possible, while respecting the confidentiality of all involved.

This Code of Conduct applies to all activities on the Talent Learning Management Platform, the Circular Economy Alliance website, its social media pages (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Discord, etc.), including comments, forum posts, and private messages.

Certified Alumni, members of the Community, as well as candidates for Circular Economy certification are encouraged to adopt the following guidelines for conduct:

  • Contribute to maintaining a safe, supportive, and orderly online learning environment that is conducive to learning and to show respect and dignity to other persons and to property.
  • Contact or communicate with CEA administrators and other personnel in a respectful, positive manner.
  • Behave and communicate on and off the Platform in accordance with the principles of Circular Economy, social responsibility, and inclusiveness.
  • Help ensure all CEA members and personnel have a positive experience in all interactions with you.
  • Appropriate behavior we encourage is as follows: communicating and interacting with respect; demonstrating empathy and sensitivity; giving constructive feedback; acting in accordance with the principles of inclusiveness, that is, showing respect for other norms, cultures, life preferences; promoting the values and principles of Circular Economy, social responsibility, and sustainable development.
  • Maintain behavior free from all forms of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
  • Other forms of inappropriate behavior that will not be tolerated include dangerous, inciteful, or hateful speech; harassment or intimidation; threats of violence; intentional disruption of online discussion, webinars, conference, or other events; retaliation; influencing or encouraging any of the above.
  • We are a learning community, united around the principles of Circular Economy. As such, we encourage experimentation, a growth mindset, and tolerance for failures, mistakes, or lack of understanding.
  • Despite our shared values, disagreements and misunderstandings are bound to occur in a community as diverse as the Community. In the event, have a calm discussion, ask for clarification, and don’t assume that someone is intentionally being offensive.
  • Please get in touch with the site administrators to report any conduct, posts, activity or content that you do not believe is in accordance with this Code of Conduct. We encourage the Community members to report any incidents that violate the Code of Conduct. The CEA team will respond in a timely manner, and the member who violated the Code of Conduct will be contacted directly. Please use the Contact Us link to report any breaches.
  • Please protect your own and other people’s privacy. Please be mindful not to post or otherwise share your own or other people’s personal information publicly online.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all content posted on the Talent Learning Management System is private and is not searchable online.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all content posted on the Community platform is publicly visible and searchable online.
  • If you delete your CEA Community account, you can request that your Community posts and private messages be removed or anonymized.
  • The website administrators may delete activity, comments, posts, and equivalent that do not adhere to the CEA Code of Conduct.
  • In the event of a breach of the Code of Conduct, we either issue a warning, announce an account suspension or, in the event of a grievous violation, we may announce account expulsion and removal from the platform and the Community.
  • If you are part of the Community, we share the same principles. Let’s share the responsibility for creating a positive dynamic on the Platform.

Code of Ethics 

Certified Alumni, members of the Community, as well as candidates for Circular Economy certification are strongly encouraged to uphold the highest standards of ethical norms in line with Circular Economy principles and values:

  • Act with transparency, honesty, integrity, and make the interests of society and the environment a priority, avoid any known conflicts of interest, and aim to create value for all stakeholders.
  • Promote the circularity and sustainability of the systems regulating economic life according to the principles of “people, planet and prosperity”.
  • Act with respect for others and the environment and practice their professional activities in an inclusive and non-discriminatory manner that upholds the values of equity, equality and tolerance.
  • Exercise their leadership and decision-making skills in the pursuit of establishing a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace and in society.
  • Act in a way that furthers the integrity of the discipline of Circular Economy and its representatives.

The code of conduct is regularly reviewed to reflect necessary adaptations that emerge from input received through our CEA members’ reporting or by changes to the prevailing regulatory framework.

Effective as of: 1 March 2022

Last revised: 28 February 2022

More detailed information can me found in the General Terms and Conditions and the Certifications Terms and Conditions.


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