Nexus Thinking and Circular Economy

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    Hiroshan Hettiarachchi

    UNU-FLORES promotes an integrated management process for water, soil, and waste Based on nexus thinking. Since these three environmental resources are closely related to each other, such integrated approach can increase resource usage efficiency. Safe Use of Wastewater in Agriculture (SUWA) is a simple but powerful example that demonstrates how sustainable management of one resource can benefit the other two. However, water reuse is not the only example around us. While some are easy to notice, there may be many other issues that we may not easily recognise nexus thinking-relevant. Raising awareness of nexus thinking is therefore, important.

    Waste in the above nexus is an important component that usually fails to capture due attention. Waste is generated during the production/processing as well as the consumption of other resources. What is usually forgotten is that the waste produced by one resource could become a raw material for another process within another resource sector as well demonstrated by the SUWA applications. Thus, waste provides an excellent link between nexus thinking and the other philosophy that captures the importance of waste utilization/minimization, which is “Circular Economy.” Circular economy is defined as an economic system where products and services are traded in closed cycles with the aim to retain as much value as possible of products, parts and materials. It is interesting to note that both nexus and circular economy thinking were born in the 1980s. However, the close relevance of the concepts was not noticed until nexus thinking absorbed the role of waste during the past few years.What we expect from this project is to us scientific evidence to promote nexus thinking and circular economy through capacity development as well as awareness-raising activities.

    The project started its activities with a scientific and capacity development workshop in Tabriz, Iran to introduce nexus thinking as a potential tool to solve some of the environment issues faced by Lake Urmia region in Iran. This activity was followed by various other awareness raising events such as invited talks and keynote lectures in various other parts of the world.