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How can we be better stewards of our water, ensuring our economy, society and nature thrive?

Effective water stewardship is a key tenet of the circular economy, driven by design to eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials, and regenerate nature.


Water is our vital life source – yet as the climate changes, more people are facing or will soon face water stress. Even now, more than half the world’s population is exposed to water stress each year, according to the World Resources Institute. By 2050, water demand around the world is projected to increase by between 20% and 25%.

Water stewardship is a key focus of the circular economy. Through water stewardship, we can protect sources of drinking water and habitats for marine life. 

Three actions contribute to water stewardship.

  1. First, we need to reduce water use.
  2. Second, we need to reuse and recycle water.
  3. And third, we need to restore and regenerate natural water systems.
Reducing water use begins at home, with each person’s water consumption and mindful use. But for real impact, entire industries must change, from agriculture and fashion to construction and manufacturing.

Currently, industries that withdraw groundwater include manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, energy generation, engineering and construction1. Some 70% of global groundwater withdrawals are used in the production of food, fibres, livestock and industrial crops2. Within industry, reusing water is a key way to reduce freshwater consumption and secure water for the global population. 

Circular economy thinking shows us that the wastewater of one process can be the input water in another. Just as an individual might collect rainwater to use on garden plants, water from industrial processes such as energy production could be used for irrigation.

Protecting water sources and regenerating natural water systems is crucial to our water security, ensuring an adequate and resilient water supply and aquatic habitats for wildlife. Through efficient water stewardship, we can prevent water stress and ensure our economy, society, and nature thrive in the long term. 

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