WaterLex side event title graphic WWW Stockholm

By David Snow, WaterLex |

In partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other groups attending World Water Week in Stockholm, WaterLex presented a panel discussion on Monday exploring how evolving wastewater reuse practices can serve human rights.

“We tend to forget that 80-90 percent of human and industrial wastewater goes untreated into rivers, lakes and oceans because enforcement of regulation would simply mean the end of entire industry sectors,” said WaterLex Executive Director Jean-Benoit Charrin, who moderated the panel. “We need new and innovative regulatory frameworks which facilitate and enable the transition to sustainable economies and development for all.”

The purpose of the official side event, entitled  Water & Energy Nexus: Smart Investments to Help Realise Human Rights,” was to bring together leading experts to discuss how wastewater reuse for energy production can work in favor of local populations’ human rights to water, adequate sanitation and a safe and healthy environment.

Tobias Schmitz, WaterLex operations director and one of the event’s organizers, agreed with Charrin in regard to need for such discussions.

“Because the prospects for the inclusion of wastewater treatment and disposal in the Sustainable Development Goals are very good, we need hothouse development of laws, policies, strategies and tools which unite renewable energy solutions with reduction of the water footprint through wastewater reduction, recycling and reuse,” he said.

The side event’s speakers, representing UNEP,  the University of Aberdeen, Freshwater Action Network-Mexico, ACRA-CSS, and Prana Sustainable Water, highlighted energy sector practices and emergying “water market” strategies that maximize efficiency and cost recovery. In addition to being potentially profitable investments, these practices, if supported by changes in law and policy, can satisfy basic human needs in localities, including the above-mentioned human rights.

After introductions by Charrin, the five speakers made 10-minute presentations with onscreen visuals, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience, which numbered more than 60 people. Please see the presentations at the links below for more information.

“The session was important in obtaining a rapid inventory of the available challenges, practical solutions as well as the legal frameworks that need to be combined within a human rights framework to ensure wastewater does not negatively impact on the enjoyment of human rights,” Schmitz said.

Schmitz added that WaterLex intends to follow up on the event through participating actively in the Global Wastewater Initiative (studying best practices in wastewater regulation in collaboration with UNEP) and by developing an in-depth position paper on the issues with the University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany.

Panelist Presentations (PDF files):

How Policy and Law Can Challenge the Human Right to Water
Ms. Nathalie Seguin Tovar, Freshwater Action Network-Mexico

Enabling Legal Frameworks that Promote the Reuse of Wastewater for Energy Production
Dr. Dirk Hanschel, University of Aberdeen, UK

Practitioner Experience: Lessons Learned from a Human Rights Based Approach to Energy Production in Tanzania
Mr. Nicola Morganti, ACRA-CSS

Innovative Financing Mechanisms for Wastewater Reuse for Energy Production Projects
Ms. Valerie Issumo, Prana Sustainable Water

Policy Components, the Global Wastewater Initiative, and UNEP Perspectives on Wastewater Reuse for Energy Production
Dr. Birguy Lamizana, UNEP

Featured image, above: Panelists, from left, were Dr. Birguy Lamizana, UNEP; Ms. Valerie Issumo, Prana Sustainable Water; Mr. Nicola Morganti, ACRA-CSS; Dr. Dirk Hanschel, University of Aberdeen; Ms. Nathalie Seguin Tovar, Freshwater Action Network-Mexico.

For more information:

WaterLex International Secretariat

Tel: +41 (0)22 907 36 46

Email: info (at) waterlex.org

About WaterLex:

WaterLex is an international public interest development organization and membership association based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a UN-Water Partner with UN ECOSOC special consultative status. Its mission is to develop sustainable solutions based on human rights to improve water governance worldwide, particularly in regard to consistent water law and policy frameworks. It works with an alliance of interested parties to improve water-governance frameworks, bringing them in line with country obligations under international human rights law. The interested parties are individuals and groups working in government (diplomatic missions), academia (professors of law, researchers), bilateral cooperation (water management advisors), the judiciary (high/supreme courts judges), the UN system (UN-Water family members), and civil society (NGOs that work on water issues). WaterLex works in partnership with 13 universities to continuously enrich the content of the WaterLex Legal Database. The organisation is funded by grants and project financing from public agencies, foundations, private gifts, and in-kind contributions. Established in 2010, when the human right to water was recognised by the UN, the organisation has a secretariat in Geneva with nine staff members, a supervisory board of directors, and a large pool of members and expert advisors. It is an official partner of the Global Water Partnership, UNDP Cap-Net, UNDP GWS, UNEP Global Wastewater Initiative, and UNECE, and a member of the board of the Swiss Water Partnership.