Issue #1: January 2019

Please take a few minutes to complete this survey!

The Secretariat is pleased to invite to share your thoughts about the Initiative, and how we can better tackle the challenges of wastewater management together. Please access the survey through this link: https://goo.gl/forms/ejInWhdSwnrWbpXb2. We look forward to your responses! Thank you very much in advance for your time.



Sanitation Story Map Winning ESRI Award

Capture of the Story Map

The Sanitation and Wastewater Story Map, developed in collaboration with UN Environment, the African Development Bank and GRID-Arendal has won the first place in the “Infrastructure, Planning and Government category of the Storytelling with Maps” contest, which is run by ESRI. The Story Map illustrates challenges associated with the inadequate infrastructure for sanitation provision and wastewater management in Africa at a time when volumes are increasing due to population growth, and expansion in industry and agriculture. Case studies are given from Kenya and from across Africa. The story has been acknowledged on their website and can be found here.


Wastewater Pollution on Coral Reefs: A Science to Policy Brief

Capture of Science-to-Policy Brief

A Science-to-Policy Brief on managing wastewater to support the health and resilience of coral reefs and titled “Wastewater Pollution on Coral Reefs” has been developed by the wastewater programme of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA), and the Coral Reef Unit of UN Environment. This brief provides policy and management recommendations for addressing and reducing the impacts of wastewater on coral reefs, based on current scientific knowledge. It promotes integrated planning and management, awareness-raising, capacity-building and other efforts to improve monitoring of wastewater loading and its impacts, among key stakeholder groups. It is primarily aimed at national and state policymakers. The Policy Brief can be found here.


Workshop on Mainstreaming and Implementing the Water-Energy Nexus in Africa

Participants of the Workshop on Mainstreaming and Implementing the Water-Energy Nexus in Africa

UN Environment through the wastewater programme of the GPA and its Regional Office for Africa (ROA) co-organized, together with the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD), and the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity the “Workshop on Mainstreaming and Implementing the Water-Energy Nexus in Africa” that was convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 4-6 September 2018. The meeting saw the participation of more than 100 government representatives and relevant stakeholders working in the field of water and energy across the African continent and beyond, who gathered to identify gaps, challenges and the way forward with regards to mainstreaming and implementing the water-energy nexus in Africa. The meeting also provided a platform for enhancing capacity, knowledge management and strengthening advocacy on the water-energy nexus. The participants agreed upon the following way forward:

  • It is paramount to see the water-energy nexus as an entry point to trigger the achievement of the SDGs.
  • There is an urgent need to develop innovative financing mechanisms in partnership with global and local partners to address the issues related to water and energy in Africa.
  • Supportive policies are needed to support the private businesses and local communities for water loans and innovative financing.
  • There is a need to harmonize national policies with regional ones, as well as with the SDGs.
  • Solid scientific knowledge, substantive data, technology transfer, capacity building, and sharing of best practices are needed to support the implementation of the water-energy nexus across the continent.
  • It is also vital to strengthen or establish a monitoring mechanism with regards to the water-energy nexus at the national level.
  • Partnerships and political dialogue are essential to implement and mainstream the nexus approach in Africa.
  • It is critical to ensure that the gender dimension is adequately reflected in the mainstreaming and implementation of the nexus approach.

Overall, the workshop was also an opportunity to explore potential opportunities for future cooperation with representatives and organizations attending the workshop with regards to implementing the water-energy nexus and tackling land-based pollution.

L-R: Mr. Linus Mofor, Senior Natural Resources Officer, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) with Mr. Jong Soo Yoon, Head of United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) and H.E. Dr. Abraha Adugna Ashenafi, State Minister for Irrigation Sector, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity of Ethiopia; Dr. Birguy Lamizana, Programme Management Officer, UN Environment; Participants of the Workshop on Mainstreaming and Implementing the Water-Energy Nexus in Africa


Partners' Meeting and Workshop: Wastewater and Sanitation Provision in Africa: An Opportunity for Private and Public-Sector Investment

A photo of the Nairobi River taken during the field trip to Kibera

From 17 to 19 September 2018, the wastewater programme of UN Environment/GPA organized a three-day meeting with the partner agencies of the project “Wastewater and Sanitation Provision in Africa: An Opportunity for Private and Public-Sector Investment,” namely the African Development Bank (AfDB) and GRID Arendal. On occasion, members of the Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I), UN Environment staff members, and other local stakeholders joined the meeting and shared their experiences and work in the field of water and wastewater management. The meeting was convened at the UN Environment premises with the first two days dedicated to presentations and discussions on the progress made under the project during the year 2017-2018, and brainstorming sessions on the way forward. The discussions also served to create awareness on the achievements and goals, as well as to receive feedback on the project from the participants. On the third day, the GPA organized a field visit to the area of Kibera, Nairobi, to see good examples and challenges related to wastewater management. The participants had a chance to visit a local centre that provides access to water and sanitation to the local community and uses innovative technologies to treat wastewater on the spot. Also, the participants, including journalists, visited a local school regularly affected by pollution from wastewater originating from the nearby Nairobi River. To access the UN Environment story related to the event, please click here. Voice of America has produced a documentary on the field visit featuring the participants, and highlighting the challenges and good practices related to wastewater and sanitation in and around Kibera.

L-R: Participants visiting the Kibera Town Centre; Households fetching water from a borehole; The polluted Nairobi River passing through the neighborhood


Technical Exchange Philippines, India to Kenya on the Ecosystem Health Report Card

Participants of the Technical Exchange on the shores of Lake Naivasha, Kenya

From 24 to 28 September 2018, the wastewater and nutrient management programmes of UN Environment/GPA, in co-operation with the Freshwater Ecosystems Unit, organized a technical exchange between experts from Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) of the Philippines, Chilika Lake Development Authority (CDA) of India and national stakeholders concerned with preserving the environmental and water quality of Lake Naivasha. This exchange was to facilitate the development of an Ecosystem Health Report Card (EHRC) in a replication effort for Lake Naivasha, based on work undertaken in India and the Philippines as part of the GEF-Global Nutrient Cycle Project, that is executed by the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. On Monday 24 September, the experts and participants convened at UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi for a Symposium that marked the commencement of the activity, where they had a chance to meet various stakeholders, including UN Environment technical personnel, and representatives from Permanent Missions to UN Environment in Nairobi. This was followed by a three-day workshop with local stakeholders at Naivasha the day after when the participants discussed the water pollution challenges and key considerations related to the development of an Ecosystem Health Report Card for Lake Naivasha. The workshop agreed to a series of activities and next steps towards this goal over the coming months, including assembling a Technical Working Group and collecting the data necessary for the development of the EHRC. To access the UN Environment story related to the event, please click here.

L-R: Participants on the ground to see the issues related to land-based pollution around Lake Naivasha; The opening of the Symposium; Participants visiting a flower farm in Naivasha


4th Intergovernmental Review Meeting of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of Marine Environment from Land-based Activities

Participants during plenary of the GPA 4th Intergovernmental Review Meeting

The 4th Intergovernmental Review of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA) was hosted by the Government of Indonesia in Bali, Indonesia over the 31 October to 1 November 2018. The review meeting was attended by more than 240 delegates, representing over 60 states. The meeting also saw the participation of UN partner agencies, intergovernmental organizations observers, experts, the private sector and the academia. The meeting considered the review of the work of the Programme since the last intergovernmental review held in the Philippines in 2012, the outlook on future work and strategic options for management of the Programme in relation to mandate and alignment to the UN Environment Assembly. The meeting concluded with a “Bali Declaration” where countries affirmed the need for continued focus on the priority marine pollution categories namely marine litter, nutrients and wastewater. The countries underscored the value of the work of the global partnerships associated with the three pollution categories with encouragement for strengthening. The meeting mandated the GPA Coordination Office complete the review of the future options of the Programme for presentation at the next UN Environment Assembly (UNEA4) for consideration by countries. For more information, please check here.

L-R: GPA Secretariat team; Dr. Habib N. El-Habr, GPA Coordinator; Participants during the 4th Intergovernmental Review Meeting of the GPA


Wastewater Reuse. A Second Life for an Essential Resource: the Example of Greywater

Capture of the webinar's webpage

On 14 November 2018, UN Environment/GPA, in collaboration with The Grey Water Project, a member of the Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I), organized the third of a series of webinars focusing on wastewater-related issues. The webinar, titled “Wastewater reuse. A second life for an essential resource: the example of greywater”, focused on the aspect of wastewater reuse, particularly looking at the case of greywater. The speakers included Mr. Howard Kahan (United States Environmental Protection Agency – US EPA), Ms. Shreya Ramachandran (The Grey Water Project), and Mr. Salfiso Kitabo (Water.org) with fifty-five attendees participating in the event. You can access the recording here.

During the year, the Initiative organized two more webinars. The first webinar focused on the need for alternative financial solutions for sustainable wastewater management while the second aimed at discussing the impact of land-based pollution on coral reefs. Both webinars were attended by a large audience and saw the participation of experts from all over the world.


Training on Nutrient Pollution and Wastewater Management Tools for Countries of the Western Indian Ocean Region

Workshop participants

The Nairobi Convention Secretariat, executing agent for the GEF-funded 'Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the protection of the Western Indian Ocean from land-based sources and activities’ (WIOSAP) Project, in collaboration with UN Environment/GPA, hosted a workshop on the application of tools and approaches for the management of land-based pollution. Some 40 technical and policy experts from countries of the western Indian Ocean attended the workshop, held in Maputo, Mozambique over the 10 and 11 December 2018. UN Environment/GPA provided training on tools developed under the Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) and Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I). Among the tools featured, the wastewater technology screening assessment tool developed by the Global Wastewater Initiative in association with the International Water Association (IWA), and the ecosystem health report card that has been applied in GPNM-supported projects in India and the Philippines. The workshop participants will apply the GPNM and GW²I tools in the development and implementation of on-ground interventions in participating countries in the GEF-WIOSAP Project.

L-R: Participants during the training; Dr. Christopher Cox, Programme Management Officer, UN Environment/GPA presenting the nutrient pollution and wastewater management tools


Advocate for Wastewater Management!

The ongoing African Development Bank (AfDB), UN Environment and GRID Arendal project titled “Wastewater Management and Sanitation Provision in Africa” aims at profiling the trends in wastewater management and sanitation delivery in Africa through a range of communication products. The project also envisages to identifying advocates who can bring attention to the issues of sanitation provision and wastewater management in Africa. In line with this, Rocky Dawuni, a famous singer from Ghana, has embraced the role of advocate for wastewater management.


Massive Open Online Course "From Source to Sea to Sustainability"

Capture of the MOOC's webpage

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) "From Source to Sea to Sustainability" is back! The MOOC was developed by the UN Environment/GPA through the Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) and Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I), Concordia University and other stakeholders and was first launched in January 2018. The course offers a holistic conceptual and practical approach to the issues of wastewater pollution and nutrient management. Registrations are open until 1 March 2019!

GW²I Member Shreya Ramachandran Receives the "Twenty Under Twenty" Award!

Shreya Ramachandran during the award ceremony

Great news from the GW²I Corner! Shreya Ramachandran, founder of The Grey Water Project, and member of the Global Wastewater Initiative, has recently received the State Bank of India "Twenty Under Twenty" Award under the category "Global Indian" for her exceptional work, including research and outreach, in the field of greywater. Congratulations! In November 2018, Shreya participated as a speaker in the GW²I webinar "Wastewater reuse. A second life for an essential resource" (recording available here).




Wastewater Plants Linked to Microplastic Pollution

Polluted water with visible plastic waste. Much of this waste breaks down in smaller and smaller chucks, resulting in microplastics that eventually enter the wastewater treatment plants

According to a group of researchers from the University of Leeds, oceans contain significant accumulations of plastic debris and that wastewater treatment plants may be an entry point for microplastics. Finding key entry points of micro plastics, such as wastewater treatment plants, can provide focus points to combating their distribution. Read more here.


Make 'em move: your bowels’ hidden power

Capture of the story published on the occasion of the World Toilet Day 2018

Access to sanitation remains a luxury for many around the world. Solutions such as these “flying toilets” or open defecation, while free, reduce the quality of life and pose serious health and environmental risks. But what happens when people come together to provide solutions to this problem? The story is about how a Kenyan company became a provider of clean sanitation facilities and producer of sustainable charcoal and firewood. To mark the World Toilet Day on 19 November 2018, UN Environment/GPA has contributed to the story “Make ‘em move: your bowels’ hidden power”. Enjoy the reading!


Nature-based technologies for Africa wastewater challenges

Close to 80 per cent of wastewater generated by households, cities, industry and agriculture flows back into nature without being treated or reused, according to the United Nations’ 2017 World Water Development Report. This is not only an issue for the environment but also a major health threat to the world´s growing population. Nature, however, does help us address this issue. This is a story about the nature-based technologies for Africa to address the challenges posed by wastewater management.


Cape Town delays Day Zero

Last year Cape Town suffered a major shortage of water, with repercussions on the lives of millions of people living in the area. But what did the city do to address this challenge, and how did wastewater reuse help tackling the drought? Enjoy the reading!


How banning plastic prevents flooding

What is the nexus between the plastic ban in Kenya and flood risk reduction? And how is this related to wastewater? A story from a journalist and documentary filmmaker tells about the life of a community in and around the neighborhood of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.




4th Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I) Webinar: Financing wastewater infrastructures: tools, mechanisms and best practices for a sustainable future – 27 February 2019, 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM Nairobi time (EAT)

• AfricaSan5 – Cape Town, 18-22 February 2019

• Events during the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA4 - Nairobi, 11-15 March 2019) under the CleanSeas Tent including one on wastewater reuse, one on the "nasty nexus" between marine litter, nutrient management and wastewater (both 11 March 2019) and one on microplastics and wastewater (15 March 2019)

• Wastewater and Sanitation Provision in Africa Project – Concluding Meeting – April/May 2019 (TBC)

• GEF Global Nutrient Cycle (GNC) Final Meeting – Nairobi, 26 April 2019 (TBC)

• Joint Meeting of the Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) and Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I) – Nairobi, 27-28 April 2019 (TBC)

We look forward to your feedback!

For more information and to become a member of the GW²I, please contact the Secretariat, c/o Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA), UN Environment at

E-mail: birguy.lamizana@un.org and riccardo.zennaro@un.org

Website: https://www.unenvironment.org/explore-topics/oceans-seas/what-we-do/addressing-land-based-pollution/global-wastewater-initiative

The Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I) is a multi-stakeholder partnership launched by UN Environment in 2013 following the Manila Declaration of the 3rd Intergovernmental Review Meeting of the GPA. Its purpose is to address wastewater-related issues, prompt coordinated action and encourage new investments for sustainable wastewater management. The GW²I intends to bring about a paradigm shift in the way wastewater is seen, from waste to a resource, and prevent further pollution and degradation of our aquatic environment.

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