Inclusivity, Resilience, and Circular Economy

Over the last decades, there has been a significant worldwide growth in population, economic and urban development, which with climate changes, stressed social inequalities at multiple levels. This is the case with Water Services. Those contextual changes drove the focus of Water Services towards the ‘take, make, consume, and dispose’ concept. This linear economy approach put unbearable stress on both ends, as the increase in water demand also led to more wastewater and water pollution. This issue will be intensified in the future, stressing natural resources and demanding a shift towards ‘reducing, reusing, and recycling’. This requires viewing waste (water) as a resource. In fact, to achieve a truly sustainable solution, there is a requirement to capture the full value of water as a service, an input to processes and a carrier of materials, leading to resilient and inclusive circular water systems.

A resilient system à as a circular strategy, through persistence, adaptability, and transformability, should prepare cities for uncertain shocks and stressors to avoid undesired impacts. An inclusive system à as when water issues arise, vulnerable households suffer the most. This shift requires coherent practices/participation by all actors, from the national and local governments to utilities, customers, and regulators, or from a slightly different point of view, from academics to practitioners. There is a requirement to consider environmental, technological, economic, institutional, and cultural characteristics when developing new strategies and policies, or scientific methods and practical tools. These are the requirements to guide the water sector to a more inclusive, resilient, environmentally sustainable, and a circular economy.



Major topics that will be addressed

Water cycle systems and services. Opportunities and constraints for service- and resource-based strategies (e.g., wastewater as a resource)

Key constraints: Performance issues and key governance gasps

Integrated strategies across levels (e.g., global, national, regional, and local), and scales (e.g., urban areas, catchments, regions)

Aligning policies, institutions, and regulation (PIR) to promote water sector strategies

The role of regulation to safeguard / promote inclusivity, resilience, and circular economy

Investment priorities in infrastructures and the overall cost matrix (e.g., capital charges, operation and maintenance, opportunity costs, and externalities)

The role of tariffs, taxes, and transfers to achieve / finance inclusivity, resilience, and circular economy

The importance of promoting the participation of public and private partners. When and how?

Capacity building to fulfill existing gaps in water supply, wastewater, drainage, and other infrastructure sectors.


University of Lisbon School of Law