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UN stresses water, energy issues at World Water Day


March 20, 2014
By Ground Water Canada

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March 23, 2014, Tokyo – The deep-rooted
relationships between water and energy were highlighted during global
celebrations in Tokyo marking the United Nations’ annual World Water Day March
22.

March 23, 2014, Tokyo – The deep-rooted
relationships between water and energy were highlighted during global
celebrations in Tokyo marking the United Nations’ annual World Water Day March
22.

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“Water and energy are among the world’s
most pre-eminent challenges. This year's focus of World Water Day brings these
issues to the attention of the world,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general
of the World Meteorological Organization and chair of UN-Water, in a press
release. 

 

The UN predicts that by 2030 the global
population will need 35 per cent more food, 40 per cent more water and 50 per
cent more energy. Already today 768 million people lack access to improved
water sources, 2.5 billion people have no improved sanitation and 1.3 billion
people cannot access electricity.

 

“These issues need urgent attention – both
now and in the post-2015 development discussions. The situation is
unacceptable. It is often the same people who lack access to water and
sanitation who also lack access to energy,” said Jarraud.

 

The 2014 World Water Development Report
(WWDR) – a UN-Water flagship report, produced and co-ordinated by the World
Water Assessment Programme, which is hosted and led by UNESCO – is released on
World Water Day as an authoritative status report on global freshwater
resources. It highlights the need for policies and regulatory frameworks that
recognize and integrate approaches to water and energy priorities.

 

WWDR, a triennial report from 2003 to 2012,
this year becomes an annual edition, responding to the international community’s
expression of interest in a concise, evidence-based and yearly publication with
a specific thematic focus and recommendations.

 

WWDR 2014 underlines how water-related
issues and choices impact energy and vice versa. For example: drought
diminishes energy production, while lack of access to electricity limits
irrigation possibilities.

 

The report notes that roughly 75 per cent
of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production. Tariffs
also illustrate this interdependence: if water is subsidized to sell below cost
(as is often the case), energy producers – major water consumers – are less
likely to conserve it.  Energy subsidies,
in turn, drive up water usage.

 

  • It stresses the imperative of co-ordinating
    political governance and ensuring that water and energy prices reflect real costs
    and environmental impacts and outlines several key overarching ideas:
  • Water requires energy and
    energy requires water.
  • Supplies are limited and demand
    is increasing.
  • Saving energy is saving water:
    saving water is saving energy.
  • The “bottom billion” urgently
    need access to both water and sanitation services, and electricity.
  • Improving water and energy
    efficiency in all sectors is imperative as are coordinated, coherent and
    concerted policies.

 

 

“Energy and water are at the top of the
global development agenda,” said the rector of United Nations University, David
Malone, this year’s co-ordinator of World Water Day on behalf of UN-Water
together with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO),
in the release.

 

“Significant policy gaps exist in this
nexus at present, and the UN plays an instrumental role in providing evidence
and policy-relevant guidance. Through this day, we seek to inform
decision-makers, stakeholders and practitioners about the interlinkages,
potential synergies and trade-offs, and highlight the need for appropriate
responses and regulatory frameworks that account for both water and energy
priorities. From UNU’s perspective, it is essential that we stimulate more
debate and interactive dialogue around possible solutions to our energy and
water challenges.”

 

UNIDO Director-General LI Yong emphasized
the importance of water and energy for inclusive and sustainable industrial
development.

 

“There is a strong call today for
integrating the economic dimension, and the role of industry and manufacturing
in particular, into the global post-2015 development priorities. Experience
shows that environmentally sound interventions in manufacturing industries can
be highly effective and can significantly reduce environmental degradation. I
am convinced that inclusive and sustainable industrial development will be a key
driver for the successful integration of the economic, social and environmental
dimensions,” he said.


For more on World Water Day, visit www.unwater.org/worldwaterday.