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Communities of practice at the center of circular water solutions

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Abstract The circular economy (CE) is an emerging system that moves away from the traditional linear view of “make, use, and dispose” to one that is restorative and regenerative to keep resources, such as water, at its highest value and utility at all times. Water is essential to the CE due to its importance for human life and because of the energy and material it contains. However, the move toward more circular water solutions is accompanied by both technological and social challenges for which, this article argues, stakeholder participation and social learning are essential. Enabling diverse stakeholders to engage and share different perspectives, interests, and needs, and ultimately to co‐produce knowledge, communities of practice (CoPs) are seen as a suitable approach to discuss CE water technologies in their institutional context. Although CoPs are being used widely in many sectors and disciplines, there is insufficient focus and a lack of consensus on how to evaluate the CoPs to understand whether and how the co‐production of knowledge is effective and efficient. This article gives an overview of the importance of water in the CE, explores the rationale for knowledge co‐production and CoPs, and proposes a CoP evaluation framework to draw together a consensus on the methods used for evaluating water knowledge co‐production and social learning processes in the transition toward the CE. This article is categorized under: Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented Engineering Water > Planning Water Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness
Schematic representation of the conceptual framework. The development of the three dimensions of a CoP (community, domain, and practice) is interrelated with the achievement of social learning outcomes (relational outcome, shared understanding, substantive outcome). The parallel development of these dimensions supports knowledge co‐production processes, which are crucial for upscaling the CE framework in the water sector
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Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness
Engineering Water > Planning Water
Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented

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