Fernanda Gomes (Portugal) 1; António Branco (Portugal) 1
1 - Portuguese Environment Agency
Being a vital, vulnerable and strategic resource, indispensable for the functioning of society and ecosystems, it is fundamental that the use of water is guided by principles of rationality and efficiency. In this perspective, the concept of water efficiency is essential, by relating the useful consumption and the effective demand. It is indisputable that water plays a central role in the transition to a circular economy, in particular as regards optimizing its uses, reducing consumption and losses, using rainwater, treated wastewater and sludge from treatment plants, as a source of materials, nutrients and energy, which can be recovered and reused, observing the required quality criteria.
Portugal has relevant policy instruments to promote water efficiency (e.g. National Program for the Efficient Use of Water). Also, the Portuguese Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change has as its perspective the need to promote the incorporation of adaptation to climate change in the planning and management of water resources in Portugal. The Portuguese Action Plan for the Circular Economy defines a strategy for the circular economy in Portugal by 2020, promoting water efficiency in the urban, agricultural and industrial sectors, the integration of water reuse into water resource planning and management and the definition of minimum requirements for reuse, among others.
Circular economy emerges, therefore, as a decisive approach in the process of adaptation to climate change, namely with regard to water planning and management, by reducing consumption and promoting its efficient use. This presentation intends to frame the problem, draw a diagnosis of the Portuguese current situation and to reflect on the multiple and complex interactions between the circular economy and water efficiency, highlighting opportunities, challenges and barriers, and stressing the importance of this process in adaptation to climate change.