Water is not only crucial for all forms of life and the environment, and but it is also a limiting factor for development. As only 3% of all the water on our planet is freshwater, and just 1% is available for drinking purposes, it is paramount to maximize the use of wastewater and low-quality waters, particularly in water scarcity-prone areas. Wastewater is a renewable resource within the hydrological cycle: once it is used, it can be reused again. Reusing wastewater is not only economically, but also ecologically necessary. If properly managed, wastewater can help address other challenges including water scarcity, irrigation, biogas production and the creation of green jobs. More than ever, it is important to shift the paradigm and change the way wastewater is seen, from being considered waste, to a valuable resource. For example, recycling greywater, namely the used water from our kitchens, bathroom sinks, bathtub, showers, and washing machines, have multiple benefits, including for irrigation, groundwater recharge, and for reducing water abstraction.
This webinar will discuss and highlight the need for reusing wastewater. The speakers will elaborate on the issue of wastewater reuse and will provide their expertise and examples on this topic while focusing on greywater. The webinar will also highlight the linkage between reusing wastewater, greywater, and the aspect of financing for sustainable wastewater management.
5:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Nairobi time (EAT)
The webinar is organized by the Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I), a multi-stakeholder platform bringing together UN agencies, international organizations, governments, scientists, the private sector and non-profit organizations with the goal of information-sharing and cooperation for an effective and comprehensive response to the challenges posed by wastewater management.
The Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I) is hosted by the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA) of UN Environment, an intergovernmental cooperation mechanism that aims to prevent the degradation of the marine environment from land-based activities. Initially established to address nine source categories of marine pollution (sewage, persistent organic pollutants, radioactive substances, heavy metals, oils, nutrients, sediment mobilization, litter and physical alteration and destruction of habitat), the Programme has, since 2012, focused on marine litter, nutrient pollution, and wastewater. Together with its partners and through the Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I), the GPA seeks to enhance the understanding of wastewater as a resource and works on various issues related to sustainable wastewater management including policy guidelines, technology, knowledge generation, capacity building, and awareness-raising.
The Grey Water Project, a member of the Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I), is a non-profit organization based in Fremont, California, and founded in 2016 with the goal of promoting the reuse of grey water. Since then, the Grey Water Project has been working to build capacity on the safe reuse of greywater and to promote water conservation. The organization is also engaged in research activities and has helped to install greywater reuse systems.
Shreya Ramachandran – Founder, The Grey Water Project
Shreya Ramachandran is a high school sophomore in Fremont, California. She is the founder of “The Grey Water Project,” a non-profit that promotes greywater reuse and water conservation. She has been researching grey water for the past four years and is actively contributing to the community to educate others about grey water and to remove the stigma that is unclean and unusable. Shreya is now collaborating with several California water agencies to promote greywater reuse. She has earned numerous awards for her work, including the President’s Environmental Youth Award. She is currently developing a greywater curriculum for elementary students to teach water conservation and the idea that small actions can make a huge difference.
Howard Kahan – Environmental Scientist, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Howard Kahan has 13 years of experience working on water-related projects as an environmental scientist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He started at EPA managing financial agreements to multiple cities and agencies to upgrade water and wastewater facilities and conducted the environmental impact analysis of those projects. Currently, Howard is working with Native American communities to monitor the health of the waters of their reservations and implement projects to improve the water quality. Howard has a Master’s degree from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Salfiso Kitabo – Country Director Ethiopia, Water.org
Salfiso Kitabo is the Country Director for Ethiopia at Water.org. His focus is on water, environmental assessment, monitoring and evaluation, and community-based engagement. He is also an expert in the field of early warning and has experience in the field of financing water supply and sanitation. Before joining Water.org, Salfiso worked as Country Director and Programme Manager for other international non-profit organizations, as well as for the Ethiopian government.
The webinar will be moderated by Birguy Lamizana, Programme Management Officer, UN Environment and Riccardo Zennaro, Associate Programme Officer UN Environment.
Dr. Birguy Lamizana has more than 20 years of working experience in the field of ecosystems and water management, environmental impacts assessments, community involvement and capacity building related to integrated water resources management. Before joining UNOPS in 2009, and UN Environment in 2012, Birguy served as Coordinator of the IUCN West Africa Regional Wetlands and Water Resources Programme. She was also the Regional Coordinator for the Global Water Partnership (GWP), and Technical Advisor for the Water Partnership Programme Trust Fund of the African Development Bank (AfDB). Birguy is currently Programme Management Officer in charge of wastewater management at UN Environment.
Riccardo Zennaro is currently Associate Programme Officer for wastewater management at UN Environment in Nairobi. Passionate about water, he has previously worked with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna and Belgrade on environmental co-operation, and specifically on water, and environmental governance. He has also worked with the European Commission in Brussels on energy and water, with UN Environment on freshwater, and with an Italian NGO on water supply and food security in Tanzania. Riccardo has a Master’s degree from the Vienna University of Technology and Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, Austria.