World Water Day Highlights Relationship Between Water And Energy
March 21, 2014

World Water Day Highlights Relationship Between Water And Energy

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

It’s the United Nations’ annual World Water Day and this year’s theme is the relationships between water and energy, with the UN predicting that the global population will need at least 40 percent more water and 50 percent more energy by 2030.

"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, which coordinates World Water Day and freshwater-related efforts UN system-wide.

According to the UN, there are already a staggering number of people without appropriate sources of water and energy around the world. Today, there are an estimated 768 million people worldwide with limited access to improved water sources, 2.5 billion people without proper sanitation and 1.3 billion people with no access to 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.

Along with World Water Day comes the 2014 World Water Development Report – a UN-Water flagship report, produced by the World Water Assessment Program, hosted and led by UNESCO.

The report has been released triennially since 2003 as an authoritative status update on global freshwater resources. The report “highlights the need for policies and regulatory frameworks that recognize and integrate approaches to water energy priorities.” Beginning this year, the report will be released annually.

The 2014 report underlines how water-related issues and choices impact energy and equivalently how energy issues impacts water. As an example: drought diminishes energy production, while lack of access to electricity limits irrigation possibilities.

“The report notes that roughly 75 percent 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,” according to a statement. “The report stresses the imperative of coordinating political governance and ensuring that water and energy prices reflect real costs and environmental impacts.”

"Energy and water are at the top of the global development agenda," said the Rector of United Nations University (UNU), David Malone, this year's coordinator of World Water Day on behalf of UN-Water together with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

"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," Malone said.

"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," UNIDO Director-General LI Yong, said in a statement, emphasizing the importance of water and energy for inclusive and sustainable industrial development.

Also, in helping to raise awareness for World Water Day, the UN offers the annual “Water for Life” UN-Water Best Practices Award. The award is presented in two categories to recognize and promote efforts to fulfill international water-related commitments and achieve internationally-agreed targets.

This year’s winners are expected to be announced today during a special UN ceremony.

For a list of celebrations being held in honor of World Water Day, visit the website.