World Water Day 2017 and Wastewater

Every year on World Water Day the United Nations, governments, companies and individuals focus their attention on how best to address the world’s pressing water issues. This year, the theme of World Water Day is wastewater. Access to safe water is a key issue in the fight to eradicate poverty, and much of this precious resource is wasted, rather than being treated and reused.  

“Globally, the vast majority of all the wastewater from our homes, cities, industry and agriculture flows back to nature without being treated or reused – polluting the environment, and losing valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials.”[1]

Wastewater and the SDGS

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched in 2015, include a goal focused on ensuring universal access to safe water (SDG 6). One important component of SDG 6 is a target to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase water recycling and safe reuse (SDG 6.3).[2]

Achieving this ambitious goal will have ripple effects for reducing poverty globally and achieving other SDGs. Progress toward the wastewater target (SDG 6.3) will also help improve human health and well-being (SDG 3), provide access to safe water and sanitation (SDG 6), generate affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), support sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) and protect the environment (SDGs 14 and 15).

What companies can do

While the payoff for achieving the SDG wastewater target is considerable, it requires a global effort.
Companies have an important role to play and stand to benefit in a number of ways. Safely managed wastewater is an affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials.[3]

Some of the ways companies can help maximize use of wastewater for productive purposes include:

  • Operations
    • Measure and monitor water use, water quality and water discharge
    • Drive efficiency in internal operations and reduce pollution by treating wastewater
    • Reduce untreated industrial wastewater and increase safe reuse of wastewater. Some common, as well as cost effective, uses for recycled wastewater are in cooling systems and for irrigation. In many cases, shifting to recycled wastewater can lead to both cost savings and risk reduction, particularly in water scarce regions.
  • Context
    • Understand water-stressed and high-risk basis and assess risk and impacts in the value chain. This information can help your company focus its energy where it is needed most
  • Strategy
    • Leverage your company’s strengths to provide solutions for wastewater treatment and reuse
  • Engagement
    • Collaborate with others in local watersheds to advance sustainable water management, engage on local water policy as well as facilitate wastewater reuse and pollution reduction in the value chain
  • Communication
    • Share leading practices, publish case studies, raise awareness and help others learn from your success

With a shift in perspective to seeing wastewater as a resource rather than a waste, companies can make a significant contribution to achieving global wastewater goals. For guidance on how to effectively communicate the work you’re doing on water through your CDP water response, download our recent whitepaper. To learn more about our expertise in water and sustainability and how we can help incorporate the SDGs into your sustainability strategy visit



[2] Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.3 requires by 2030 to “improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.”

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