Sanitation for and by Nature

Guidance on evidence-based practices for improved sanitation, water security and ecological health, with a focus on nature-based solutions

How can nature help achieve sanitation goals? How can achieving sanitation goals help nature?

There are 2.4 billion people living without sanitation properly separating them from their biological waste. For another 2.1 billion, wastewater drains directly into surface waters. Despite improvements over past decades, unsafe management of fecal waste and wastewater still presents a major risk to public health and the environment.

There are various natural solutions which can be part of wastewater treatment systems, supporting the removal of wastewater contaminants such as bacteria, heavy metals and high levels of nutrients. These include: constructed and natural wetlands, wastewater treatment ponds and soil infiltration systems, and green roofs and vertical gardens.

However, it is often difficult for wastewater utility managers to know whether to incorporate natural infrastructure into their planning, how best to find a suitable mix of grey and green infrastructure, and how to choose among the menu of possible types of green infrastructure. Many professionals, technicians and regulators, are hesitant to implement nature-based solutions, because the mechanisms at play are not well understood and controlled.

This interdisciplinary Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) will develop guidance on nature-based sanitation solutions that can be implemented into wastewater treatment facilities in a way that benefits ecological and human health.

The working group will be guided by the BRIDGE Collaborative principles as an approach to enable more effective cross sector collaboration, with the ambition to inspire wastewater utilities and regulatory authorities to incorporate the guidance into their operation and planning.



Working group members

Katharine Cross  – International Water Association

Justin Abbott – Arup Group

Vicenç Acuña – Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA)

Natasa Atanasova – University of Ljubljana

Robert K Bastian – US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Florent Chazarenc  – Institut national de recherche en sciences et technologies pour l’environnement et l’agriculture (IRSTEA)

Rose Kaggwa – National Water and Sewerage Corporation, Uganda

Günter Langergraber – BOKU University

Fabio Masi – IRIDRA

Rob McDonald – The Nature Conservancy

Stefan Reuter – Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA)

Kari Vigerstol – The Nature Conservancy

Stephanie Wear – The Nature Conservancy

Josh Goldstein – Bridge Collaborative, The Nature Conservancy


Resources and datasets of relevance to the project