World Water Day 2014 will address the nexus of water and energy and it will be coordinated by the United Nations University (UNU) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) on behalf of UN-Water.
Water and energy are closely interlinked and interdependent. Energy generation and transmission requires utilization of water resources, particularly for hydroelectric, nuclear, and thermal energy sources. Recent interest in biofuels also creates an incremental demand on water resources; the latest World Water Development Report (2012) predicts that even a nominal increase in biofuel demand (say 5% of road transport by 2030, as predicted by International Energy Agency) could push up the water demand by as much as 20% of the water used for agriculture worldwide. Additionally, biofuel production is linked to increases in water pollution through increased used of fertilizers and agricultural chemicals. Conversely, about 8% of the global energy generation is used for pumping, treating and transporting water to various consumers. Co-production of water and energy, as is the case for geothermal energy generation, offers interesting opportunities to energy- and water-scarce countries.
One may, therefore, argue that reflecting the interlinkages between water and energy should be given adequate attention in the new and emerging agenda around the so-called Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development dialogue. This could also be linked to the design of a climate resilient and robust green economy, as noted in the Section III of the Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want.” With industries being major water and energy consumers, a green economy will be contingent to the greening of the industrial sector and resource efficient, cleaner production. A particular emphasis has to be placed on increasing the water use efficiency in energy production – essentially producing more kWh per drop of water. This would require a policy environment in which economic and social incentives are offered to promote water use efficiency and protect freshwater ecosystems.
The UN system – working closely with its Member States and other relevant stakeholders – is collectively bringing its attention to the water-energy nexus, particularly addressing inequities, especially for the ‘bottom billion’ who live in slums and impoverished rural areas and survive without access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, sufficient food and energy services. It also aims to facilitate the development of policies and crosscutting frameworks that bridge ministries and sectors, leading the way to energy security and sustainable water use in a green economy. Particular attention is being paid to identifying best practices that can make a water- and energy-efficient ‘Green Industry’ a reality; several methodologies are at play in which industrial productivity can be increased while reducing the water footprint.
UN-Water Seminar at World Water Week in Stockholm:
Exploring the Water-Energy Nexus
4 September 2013
UN-Water is organizing a seminar on the topic of Water and Energy at the World Water Week in Stockholm as part of its preparatory process for World Water Day 2014. The seminar is meant to trigger a dialogue on the nexus of water and energy, identify stakeholders who could be actively involved in further developing the water-energy linkages in the context of the WWD 2014, and identify policy and capacity development issues in which UN-Water can offer significant contributions. The topic of this seminar also links with the primary theme of the 2014 World Water Week in Stockholm, and with the theme of the 5th edition of the World Water Development Report, which will be published in 2014.
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- Jointly developed ideas and themes for the WWD 2014;
- Further advancing the dialogue on the water-energy nexus;
- Preliminary findings of the UN World Water Development Report highlighted and dialogue on actions to be taken by various stakeholders fostered; and
- A group of stakeholders committed to working on linked water-energy issues..