Sustainable Pricing of Water - Sweden Water Research

Sustainable Pricing of Water

The technology for a more circular use of water exists, but we need new business models and changed behavior to make it possible on a larger scale. This project identifies challenges related to legislation, collaboration among different stakeholders, and the need to increase awareness of the challenges in the water industry.

In many parts of the world, access to clean water is a significant challenge for health, food production, and societal development. Even here in Sweden, we are reminded that water is a limited resource, especially during the summer when we encounter issues like droughts, fires, and floods. These challenges are particularly evident in the water and wastewater sector, where climate change demands adaptation and infrastructural development. To establish a water supply that is sustainable in the long term, we need to create incentives for a transition from a linear to a circular model. We also need to develop a business model that recognizes water as a finite resource.

New pricing models are needed. How can we make it profitable and create incentives for property owners to implement technologies that support a more circular use of water? How do we get people to accept circular solutions and consume less water? So far, the focus has mainly been on technological development, and today there are technologies that enable a more circular use of water. However, to implement circular technologies on a large scale, we need business models that allow charging for this and create incentives for households to choose sustainable solutions. This requires a shift in focus from technological development to a more social science perspective.

Project Purpose

Within the EU, there is a discussion about the need to develop what is called a Water-Smart Society, where water supply is based on circular technology and involves all stakeholders. This project builds on this concept and seeks solutions to address the current challenges.

Pricing Water aims to contribute to a circular approach to water based on social science theory and methodology. Through examples from other countries and dialogue with society, we examine existing business models and their impact on behaviors.

Meeting Society’s Needs

In a time where climate change is driving the need for smarter water use, and Sweden’s water and wastewater infrastructure is facing significant investments, the project will provide insights into how we can price and use water efficiently. By focusing on sustainable business models, the research can contribute to long-term funding and facilitate collaboration between the water industry and the real estate sector.

The project is funded by Sweden Water Research and conducted by Anna Thomasson, Copenhagen Business School, and Per Hillbur, Malmö University.

This project aims to contribute to a circular approach to water by:

  • Identifying obstacles and opportunities within the existing rules and systems to develop business models based on new circular technologies
  • Identifying obstacles and opportunities to develop and implement circular pricing models within the current institutional framework
  • Proposing changes to current rules and systems to create conditions for more sustainable water use