Land-based sources of pollution have a major impact on planetary health and on the oceans, evidenced by the development of a Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA). Growing populations, increasingly intensive and large-scale agriculture, and booming urbanization mean a growing amount of wastewater discharge into aquatic ecosystems and nutrient runoff to waterways. Together, these lead to eutrophication, toxic algae blooms, greater incidence of water-borne disease, lowered resilience of ecosystems to environmental change, and harm to species, including humans. Wastewater pollution and nutrient runoff are evident in freshwater and fluvial systems, but in this MOOC we also aim to focus on the impacts and solutions that pertain to coasts and oceans.
This course will offer a holistic conceptual and practical approach to the issues, covering the scientific basics of nutrient cycling and pollution impacts, methodologies and assessment tools, financial mechanisms to protect our waters, policy and governance issues, as well as technologies for turning waste into resources. It will demonstrate that wastewater treatment and nutrient management can be cost-effective, improve farm productivity, ensure clean drinking water for communities, and preserve vital habitats. For all the complexity inherent in these issues, this course will show that wastewater and nutrient management should be viewed as an opportunity to utilize this pollution as a resource with which we can pursue greater sustainability and community resilience and ensure the health and integrity of the aquatic ecosystems upon which we depend.
For more information about the course, visit the MOOC's website.