Developments in society and implications for emerging pollutants in the aquatic environment

Oeko-Institut Working Paper 1/2017

Pollutant emissions in river basins change continuously. Management strategies should address such developments. Many scenarios are published which describe future changes in the environment and in society. Examples concern climate change, demographic change and urbanization. Based on these scenarios, specific trends can already be predicted (with uncertainties). Do these scenarios help to get a picture on future pollutants?

The study presented here is based on the hypothesis that existing scenarios on developments in society may provide useful indications for future pollutants. The analysis of more than 30 reports on future scenarios shows that some developments are directly connected to consumption and the emission of specific substances. Secondly, it became evident that the effects of other development scenarios, such as those associated with climate change, are more complex. A precise quantitative evaluation of the implications of some scenarios on future pollutants can be particularly difficult for such scenarios. An important field of changes is technological developments. Frequently observed changes in this respect are substitutions of problematic substances with substances of similar structure.