Uncovering circular economy opportunities for climate-reslient and inclusive WASH in Kiribati

Government officials in Kiribati sitting at a table collaborating with researchers on climate-resilient water, sanitation, and hygiene opportunities as part of the Circle WASH research project.

Discussing circular economy ideas for water, sanitation and hygiene with officials in Kiribati (UTS-ISF / Jeremy Kohlitz)


Kiribati is as one of the world's most vulnerable nations to climate change. Heatwaves, droughts, cyclones, and permanent inundation pose risks, exacerbated by geographic isolation and dependence on international support. Limited rainfall, wave-driven flooding, saline intrusion, and rising sea levels are all impacting water security for this island nation.


Supported by Australia through Water for Women, the University of Technology Sydney's Institute for Sustainable Futures’ (UTS-ISF) research project, Circle WASH, is exploring how circular economy ideas can help create water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems that are both climate-resilient and inclusive.


Circular economy approaches can strengthen WASH services while driving climate resilience, inclusion and wider sustainability. CIRCLE WASH is a two-year research project contributing new thinking and case study insights about the potential of circular economy ideas for WASH service systems.


This research project spans Kiribati's Line Islands and Vietnam's Ha Tinh province, and involves a partnership with the Institute for Water Resources Economics and Management, UNICEF Pacific, and the International Water Management Institute.


By exploring innovative approaches and incorporating climate resilience explicitly into the identification and assessment of circular options, the research aims to enhance the resilience of WASH systems and services and contribute to wider societal resilience.


In Kiribati, research findings are supporting efforts to strengthen WASH services for rapidly growing, climate vulnerable urban areas, and in Vietnam, to progress the national circular economy and rural WASH policies. Findings will also inform global sector innovation for resilient, inclusive WASH services and systems.


Identified points of complementarity and intersection with related initiatives, such as water reuse, recycling and solid waste management at country and international levels, are also enabling knowledge sharing and potential collaboration.


Explore resources and updates from this project


World Water Day is observed annually on 22 March and this year's theme, 'Water for peace', emphasises the importance of working together to balance everyone’s needs, to ensure that no one is left behind in access to clean water and safe sanitation, and to make water a catalyst for a more peaceful future. 

As the lifeblood of any community, when water is scarce, polluted, denied or usage unfairly shared, conflicts can arise or intensify. For women and girls, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups, water insecurity exacerbates inequities and has disproportionate impacts, including on their health and well-being. Water conflict also increases the risk of violence.

Throughout the world, women are at the frontlines of climate change and it's impacts on water security. With primary responsibility for meeting caregiving and household water needs, including for sanitation and hygiene (WASH), women are water experts in their communities.

Every day, women are brokering peace, driving sustainable agriculture for food security, and delivering WASH for the health and well-being of their families and communities. Women and water can lead us out of this crisis. 

But women cannot do it alone. As climate change impacts increase, and populations grow, we must unite to advance gender equality and accelerate progress on SDG6 - Water and sanitation for all. Everyone has a role to play in creating a fairer and more cohesive society

Throughout Asia and the Pacific, Water for Women partners are working with communities, governments, researchers, rights holder organisations, and service providers in 16 countries to deliver climate-resilient and inclusive water and WASH services for all. Together, we are accelerating progress for SDG6 for a water secure and peaceful future for all.


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