The role of the water industry in supporting sustainable economic growth for an advanced economy and the need for the water sector to maximise circular economy measures to minimise cost increases

Palmer, S., Stantec (UK) Ltd, UK


The challenge for the global economy is that its current productivity is underpinned by its mechanisation and development of materials. The energy and resource demands of these productivity factors are currently coupled to climate change through use of fossil fuels. Production has
significant downstream costs that are not fully met at the point of production and the consequences are pollution burdens which the water sector has manage for the water environment on behalf of the entire economy while providing the economy with water of quality it requires. Unmanaged waste discharge from production erodes natural capital which in turn undermines the global economy by introducing downstream costs. The single economic policy solution that can begin to decouple these long-term cost risks from economic activity is the circular economy. This paper provides a best practice proposition for water utility policy and strategy development for water utilities for introducing circular economy benefits to its operations, which can increase the resilience of the water utility asset base and reduce its net cost to serve.

Keywords: Physical economics, climate change, natural capital erosion, externalities, economic efficiency, policy risk, circular economy, resource recovery, bioresources.

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