March 20, 2020, by Katie Andrews

World Water Day 2020

This year’s United Nations (UN) World Water Day comes as the world is facing unprecedented times during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Before the outbreak, this year’s focus was on water and climate change and how the two are inextricably linked. “Adapting to the water effects of climate change will protect health and save lives. Using water more efficiently will reduce greenhouse gases. We cannot afford to wait. Everyone has a role to play”.

However, COVID-19 has justly directed attention to the issues of clean water and sanitation. The UN highlights that there is a global hygiene crisis, with 40% of the global population living without basic handwashing facilities – something that is critical to containing the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. To read more on this, visit:

The University of Nottingham had planned to mark World Water Day with a range of activities, including releasing our latest water sustainability figures and promoting some of our research from the Water Works Interdisciplinary Research Cluster.

Overall the University has seen a 7% reduction in water consumption year-on-year and while our student numbers and floor area both increased, our water consumption shrank by 7.18% and 7.5% respectively – both below the Russell Group average. The University’s Estates team has been carrying out extensive work to ensure this downward trend continues.

The University is not only concentrated on its own sustainability efforts but is also working on developing solutions to global challenges related to water.

The University’s Water Works Interdisciplinary Research Cluster is a cross-faculty and campus network of over 140 academics that was created in 2019. Through trans-disciplinary research, it brings together engineers, scientists, geographers, historians, health experts and many more, to pioneer new ways that ensure every person on our planet has access to the water they need to thrive. The cluster is due to launch officially later this year.

So far the cluster has brought together academics, industrialists and government organisations to shape the way we adapt to climate and environmental challenges, locally and globally.

For example:

  • Blue-Green Cities – a multi stakeholder workshop to develop a future vision of how Nottingham may adapt to become more resilience. For example, to the impacts of climate change through the prioritisation of Blue-Green infrastructure, to manage water challenges and deliver multiple co-benefits to the environment and society. This aligns with Nottingham’s commitment to become the first carbon neutral city in the country and Water Works features in the Nottingham City Council Carbon Neutral Plan 2028 under section three – Resilience and Adaptation.
  • Plastic waste and biodegradable plastics as emerging environmental pollutants – a workshop with the University of Nottingham’s Green Chemicals Beacon of Excellence to deliver solutions to these challenges.
  • Plastic, Pollution and Policy workshop – inviting multiple stakeholders including Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Nottingham and Leicester City Councils, Clean Rivers Trust, Thames Water, and World Textile Information Network, to consider what evidence is required when developing policy related to plastic consumption and waste and how we may influence future policy on plastic pollution.

The University of Nottingham and its scientists recognise that there is much more to do on the topic of water. The cluster is looking at  what its research can do to support those who do not have access to water, sanitation and basic hygiene education.

The University is using World Water Day to highlight that it is universities and their researchers who play a vital role in undertaking research that will have a positive impact on society.

Stay tuned to find out more about the research coming out of the University of Nottingham’s Water Works Interdisciplinary Research Cluster.

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