Lund University

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Swedish Position in Water Research

Sweden has great capacity to build up systems to realize resource efficient processes for modern society. Examples are such as the considerable expansion of biogas for vehicle fuel from sewage sludge, energy recovery from waste water for district heating networks in the municipalities and recipient water protection though efforts from industries and communities with advanced waste water treatment methods. 

Sweden has also been successful with so-called upstream work, where environment advisors worked with industry and service providers, to jointly find ways to minimize emissions of persistent and problematic substances in the wastewater, thereby reducing the concentration of pollutants in wastewater and sludge. Take metals in sewage sludge for example, since the year of 2000, they are reduced by around 50% due to well-performed upstream work. This results cleaner sewage sludge rich in nutrients spread on Swedish farmland. 

There are great opportunities to "export" the Swedish know-how to both neighboring countries and other continents. At the same time, this will lift the EU to introduce a broader definition of work on water issues in a direction that matches the Swedish water vision.

The Water Vision is established for various possible outcomes from collaboration interaction.  Resources and opportunities are the value chain in collaboration and all parts are strengthened at the same time the individual players have the world-leading positions. Innovative Swedish solutions in water sector have leading position in the international market and contribute globally to safer drinking water, sustainable stormwater solutions and resource efficient water management for better environment. In Sweden, everyone - from individual to public services and commercial activities – is be able to get access to long-term safe drinking water of high quality and sufficient quantity. There are services and products adapted to a changing climate for better protection of water sources and safer preparation in water utilities. In the cities, a climate-friendly water system utilize rainfall as a resource at the same time good purification of water takes place with as little environmental impact as possible. Sewerage systems are adapted to reduce emissions so that the objective of good ecological and chemical status in oceans, lakes and streams is achieved and groundwater is not adversely affected. This also helps to better use of sludge as resources for fertilizers and biogas.  The value of water in the society is in visible presence for citizens and politicians and awareness on environment and resource conservation has been increased.

The collaboration between central, regional and local authorities is strong. Water actors from civil engineering organizations, companies and researchers are gathered together to meet the requirements of practical projects.  Competent, resourceful and pragmatic authorities set goals and make demands to stimulate research and innovation. The municipal water and wastewater organizations collaborate either in innovation-friendly procurement or through innovation procurement. The water sector is one of Sweden's most attractive labor markets for both Swedish and foreign skilled labor.

In order to collect the Swedish strength of interdisciplinary water work, a national platform is established in 2014 with support from VINNOVA.

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