The issue of wastewater in Latin America and the Caribbean
In accordance with the objective of the contract relating to “Support for research on investment in circular water treatment and renewable energy systems for the Americas”, this document presents the conclusions report on investment in circular water treatment and renewable energy systems for Latin America and the Caribbean with the Nexus approach.
In Latin America and the Caribbean one of the main sources of water contamination is inadequate treatment of domestic water. Typically, in small and medium-sized populations there is no specific regulation in this regard, and many wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are in poor condition or abandoned due to their lack of financial resources and operating capacity. Only a low proportion of rural municipalities have wastewater collection systems, and fewer still have WWTPs (Peña, 2016). In 2020, around 7 in 10 people in the region did not have access to safely-managed sanitation and up to one quarter of sections of rivers were affected by severe pathogenic contamination, with monthly concentrations of faecal coliform bacteria of more than 1000cfu/100ml, with a substantial increase of almost two thirds being observed between 1990 and 2010. This water contamination mostly originates in domestic wastewater from sewers (UNEP, 2016).
To observe progress in wastewater treatment in LAC, the nationally determined contributions (NDC) of the countries of the region were reviewed. They take into account the agreements and targets set by the different countries and they were set to make progress in wastewater treatment. The information analysed was obtained from the provisional registry of nationally determined contributions.
The circular economy is a way of designing production processes as a system that is compatible with available resources. As such, to ensure the sustainability of this system, the intention is to use resources to the maximum and reduce waste through reuse, repair and recycling. Circularity allows resources to be managed more efficiently and it reduces the economy's dependence on the use of finite resources, and even improves productivity and provides long-term resilience.
This publication is also available in Spanish.