WIMEK's Grand Challenge III: Advancing circular systems

Innovation towards closed water, nutrient, and material flows.

Agriculture and horticulture consume about 70 per cent of the earth’s fresh water and are responsible for 30 per cent of the world’s energy consumption. Moreover, food production is exhausting and wasting raw materials, and causing farmland depletion and biodiversity loss. Calls for sufficient and clean water, sustainable energy and healthy food will become louder in the coming decades. We can only change this by adopting an integrated approach and creating synergy between the water, energy and agricultural production sectors. This requires a transition from the current linear to circular agricultural production. In addition, it requires a shift from fossil to renewable sources of energy, water and nutrients. Among other things, this means that water, energy and nutrient cycles need to be as closed as possible, at local, regional and intercontinental levels. Closed-cycle food production requires new, integrated concepts, developed in close cooperation with all stakeholders.

WIMEK’s research aims at co-creating water, food and climate solutions by:

  • developing practices and technology that minimise the input of finite resources, encourage the use of regenerative ones, prevent the leakage of natural resources and stimulate the reuse and recycling of inevitable biomass losses in a way that adds the highest possible value to the entire system
  • developing system designs that fit into practice and are safe, high-quality, optimal, integrated and resilient, meet societal demand and that keep resource inputs and outputs within the planetary boundaries at all scales (local to global)
  • determining driving forces that are effective to move the systems towards circularity