WRI established its India office in 2011. We work with leaders in business, government, and civil society to expand clean energy development, combat climate change, and develop sustainable transport solutions. Learn more about our work in India. Visit the WRI India website.
WRI has worked to reframe sludge and wastewater as inputs rather than outputs, reducing water stress and greenhouse gas emissions while creating cleaner water and renewable energy. Analyses of this potential informed a wastewater reuse policy in Gujarat, India, and a push in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan to recover energy and resources from sludge and wastewater.
Rapid urbanization in China and India stresses energy grids and water resources in regions that are already water-stressed. China’s water resources per capita, for example, are only 35 percent of the global average, and India’s are just 19 percent. At the same time, rapidly growing economies in China and India are accelerating demand for energy.
Waste and wastewater are usually regarded only as wastes and pollutants. Conventional organic waste and sewage treatment methods for removing pollutants are energy-intensive and release potent greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide.
Since 2013, WRI China has worked in six cities to introduce circular economy approaches to capture previously wasted resources. WRI’s work with large Chinese cities shows that such approaches can help cities achieve multiple Sustainable Development Goals, including cleaner water, less waste, renewable energy production and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. WRI developed an analysis to determine the national, city and project-level potential to avoid greenhouse gas emissions and capture energy. WRI worked with local and national stakeholders to advance circular economy approaches for waste and wastewater once their potential was realized.
WRI India supported the government of the water-poor state of Gujarat in developing its Waste Water Recycle and Reuse Policy, providing research support and technology evaluation for wastewater and sharing WRI’s international experience.
For the first time, China’s 13th Five-Year Plan requires the recovery of energy and resources from sludge and wastewater in cities across China to the extent possible. Three new sludge-to-energy projects in Beijing were initiated in the last year, serving 4.5 million people and producing 136 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year, equivalent to avoiding the use of 41,000 metric tonnes (more than 45,000 U.S. tons) of standard coal. By 2020, these approaches could cut China’s methane emissions – currently the world’s largest – by up to 4 percent. Besides meeting the energy demand of the projects’ operation, the captured methane could be used to replace 1.9 million cubic meters (2.5 million cubic yards) of gasoline, equivalent to the annual emissions of 1.3 million cars.
Gujarat became the first Indian state to adopt a wastewater reuse policy, mandating that urban local bodies recover 20 percent of wastewater. The states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have since adopted similar policies.
India’s cities are clogged with cars that pollute the air. In Bhopal, WRI and partners designed a new bike sharing system that is the first in India to provide segregated lanes and that also helps link to public transportation. The system attracted 25,000 members in its first five months and is inspiring other cities to launch similar projects.
Half of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India, where vehicle emissions account for almost a third of air pollution and severely impact health and quality of life. Bicycles, which could help relieve this pollution, are often regarded as inferior because they are widely used by poorer people. Bicycle infrastructure is a low priority, which means that biking is often unsafe. Public transportation, which could also help reduce pollution, has a persistent last-mile problem, which deters people from using the system because of the distance between stops or stations and final destinations like homes or offices. As a result, many middle-income people opt to drive, resulting in increased congestion, air pollution and traffic fatalities.
WRI India researched public bicycle sharing (PBS) systems to identify key factors in successful systems. Over four years, WRI conducted capacity-building and facilitated data and knowledge-sharing among existing and upcoming bicycle-sharing systems, including the recently launched PBS in Mysore. WRI supported Bhopal Municipal Corporation in planning and designing a system around residential and commercial transportation nodes, aiming to make it easier to connect to the Bhopal Bus Rapid Transit System while improving safety for cyclists.
Learning from challenges other PBS systems faced, WRI and Bhopal convened technology suppliers, financing institutions and public agencies to develop an innovative public-private partnership to help ensure the quality, usability and viability of the system.
In June 2017, Bhopal launched India’s only fully automated PBS system with segregated bike lanes. The system has 500 bicycles and 60 docking stations throughout the city and opened with 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) of dedicated bike lanes, which help increase rider safety and save lives. In five months, more than 25,000 users have registered, more than half of them women.
Plans to expand the Bhopal bike lane network to over 50 kilometers (31 miles) in the next few years would create the most extensive dedicated bike path network in India. Other PBS systems, including Mysore’s, are now exploring this feature.
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