Accelerating Sludge Management towards Sustainability

International Water Association Sludge Management, Specialist Group, SDG

Target Audience

Operators, Researchers (Universities, private and public bodies), Regulators, Policymakers, NGOs, and Municipalities.


This webinar is organised by the IWA Specialist Group (SG) Sludge Management. This SG deals with all kinds of sludge including sewage, faecal, waterworks, and industrial sludge. The objectives of the group are to advance knowledge and transfer scientific and technical information on all aspects of sludge management, including production, characterisation, stabilisation, digestion, thickening, dewatering, thermal processing, agricultural reuse, production of usable materials, and ultimate disposal. Relevant to the group activity is also the integrated management of sludge with other organic wastes. More information about this SG is available here.

Across the World, 2.4bn people still lack improved sanitation facilities and 1bn still practice open defecation. This will lead, together with population rise, rapid urbanization, water scarcity and natural resources depletion, to a rapid growth in the number of wastewater treatment plants with the consequent increase in the amount of residual sludge produced. It is, therefore, imperative to reconsider the role of sludge within the wastewater treatment system, in order to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

This is underlined in Target 6.3, of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, which aims to “improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally“. To track progress towards the target, SDG indicator 6.3.1 monitors the proportion of total, industrial and domestic wastewater flows safely treated in compliance with national or local standards.

Sludge can go from being the last stage of the wastewater treatment cycle to becoming the driving force towards sustainability. This webinar will present a variety of approaches and options for accelerating sludge management towards sustainability, introducing multiple wastewater and sludge treatment sequences to fit different local contexts.

Learning Objectives

Following this session, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the need to re-conceptualise sludge management by considering it as the locomotive (engine) and not the last wagon of the WWTP system;
  • Have a holistic and interdisciplinary approach towards SM and WWTP;
  • Realise the need to include governance/institutional aspects and transportation/logistical processes in sustainability evaluations;
  • Overcome obstacles and improve water sustainability by introducing digitalization.


Additional Resources

  • Webinar presentation: available here.
  • Q&A Report: available here.


International Water Association