Keynote Speech on the “Safe Use of Wastewater in Agriculture in the Light of Nexus Thinking” at Soil-Waste-Water 2018 (SWW18)

  • DATE / TIME:
    2018/03/26 - 2018/03/28

    Co-Organiser: University Koblenz-Landau

    Image: Romanenkova/Shutterstock

    Reusing wastewater and solid residues in agriculture for crop irrigation and fertilisation is considered an effective management tool for agricultural resources. Reuse merits consideration because the practice helps decrease water-use pressure, moderates water pollution, and facilitates recycling practices. Such practices have been performed since ancient times, but improper management can present a risk to public and environmental health.

    The risks associated with the different routes of exposure, properties of exposed ecosystems, and concentrations of various physicochemical and microbiological parameters limit the ability to reuse. Therefore, the potential of recycling such wastes and its transfer from a pollutant to an agricultural water source, biofertiliser or other applications, are still under debate. The benefits of such strategies must be weighed against risks on a case by case basis.

    This conference aims to analyse this currently broad and heterogeneous discussion and to bring together specialists from soil science, environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, and agriculture to continue the discussion on how to sustainably use agricultural wastes and low-quality water in agriculture.

    UNU-FLORES Academic Officer Prof. Hiroshan Hettiarachchi will give a keynote speech to the conference on the Safe Use of Wastewater in Agriculture (SUWA) in the Light of Nexus Thinking.


    The Workshop will serve as a discussion platform for experts on the current development of water recycling and reuse management strategies and its effects on the environment.

    The theme of the conference clearly connects to the core research of the Waste Management Unit at UNU-FLORES: the Safe Use of Wastewater in Agriculture, wastewater use, and the Water-Soil-Waste Nexus Approach.

    In this context Prof. Hettiarachchi will explain how water, soil, and waste are three key resources associated with agriculture and thus food production. An integrated management of these three resources can bring more benefits to society through increased resource usage efficiency. This approach is commonly known as the Nexus Approach. Safe use of wastewater in agriculture (SUWA) is a simple but powerful example of the Nexus Approach in action. It demonstrates how the sustainable management of one resource in a nexus can benefit the other resources in the same nexus. Irrigation with wastewater not only addresses the water demand issues in water stressed areas, but also helps us “recycle” the nutrients in it. The process begins in the waste sector, but the implementation of such a management model can ultimately make a positive impact on the water sector as well as in soil and land management. On a global scale, over 20 million hectares of agricultural land are irrigated using wastewater. Developing countries and countries in transition need clear institutional arrangements and skilled human resources to address the technical, institutional, and policy challenges related to SUWA. From the United Nations (UN) perspective, SUWA also supports achieving some of the key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    Related Website:
    Soil-Waste-Water 2018 (SWW18)


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