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"Wastewater and the Circular Economy" session offered to youth opportunities of designing a business canvas

In recognition of the 2017 World Water Day and the themes of wastewater and the Mediterranean regional priority on youth employment, SwitchMed designed and carried out a session on wastewater and the circular economy at an event for youth participants of the Mediterranean region. The group activity focused on opportunities for young green entrepreneurs and enabled participants to first develop a business idea using the green business canvas and then to deliver an elevator pitch.
Published on Apr 19, 2017

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Wastewater reuse or recycling can be defined as ”using wastewater or reclaimed water from one application for another application”. In other words, it is the used/spent water discharged by households (from bathing, washing, flushing toilets, etc.), agriculture and industrial facilities.

With a fast growing population and an expanding industrial and agricultural sector in MENA countries, the demand for alternatives of fresh water resources remains imminent. Moreover, climate change is expected to affect these countries negatively as temperature increases while precipitation most likely becomes uncertain and fewer. Add to this other environmental factors such as soil erosion, deforestation, water pollution, and you will have a clear picture of the region’s actual and future suffering from extreme water scarcity (less than 500 m³/year of renewable water per capita per year).

Youth are often keen to adopt and test new ideas and technologies and water represents a valuable economic opportunity with the potential to create numerous green jobs that can contribute to environmental and social sustainability in the region.

For all of these reasons SwitchMed has celebrated World Water Day by raising awareness of wastewater as a resource in the circular economy and showcasing how some green entrepreneurs in the Mediterranean are seeking to turn this resource into various economic opportunities, at the conference on “Youth Innovating with Wastewater for a Sustainable Mediterranean” in Marseille, France.

Organised by the Center for Mediterranean Integration, this youth-focused Mediterranean workshop took place on 21st -22nd March 2017 and brought together youth participants from the age group of 18-35 representing research bodies and universities, NGO, IO, green businesses, scientific students and experts.

  

SwitchMed project Managers Matthew Lagod, Fern-marie Boles and Anna Ibañez de Arolas introducing SwitchMed activities

 

The concepts of “circular economy” and “waste as a resource” were highlighted during the session on “Wastewater and the Circular Economy” lead by SwitchMed team Matthew Lagod, Fern-Marie Bowles and Anna Ibañez de Arolas. After the presentation of SwitchMed activities, the Switchers and the Green Entrepreneur (GE) component, participants heard from two SwitchMed-incubated GEs who introduced real life project experience: Lina Al-Kurdi with Green Roofs in Jordan and Abdelkrim Bessadok with Queen Luzerne in the Oasis of Gabès and wastewater irrigation in Tunisia.

                                                                              Mr Abdelkrim Bessadok of Tunisia (GE) coaching young water professionals in the                      Ms Lina Al-Kurdi of Jordan (GE) helping participants formulate their   

                           development of a green business canvas for a business model aiming to                                       idea for an urban solution to reuse of wastewater

                                            derive value from the use of treated wastewater. 

 

Later, SwitchMed project managers introduced the Green Business Canvas and Elevator Pitch to set the stage for a collaborative work session during which participants brainstormed business opportunities related to wastewater and work through a guided exercise to articulate the key elements of a business plan based on their ideas. Divided into 7 groups, participants successfully delivered their pitch to the audience.

The session witnessed a high level of engagement and enthusiasm all around, including a great amount of creativity in finding innovative and very pertinent solutions (e.g. the idea of a Holy water savings company that targets Islamic religious sites to recycle ablution water and reuse it in local petrol and gas station for car washing).