WaterSan Perspective
January 14th, 2014

United Nations experts, case study representatives, industry delegates and key professionals from around the World are meeting in Zaragoza, Spain, from 13 to 16 January in preparation for World Water Day 2014.

Held annually by UN-Water on March 22, this year focus is drawn towards the nexus of water and energy.

Missingir Dam in Mozambique
Missingir Dam in Mozambique

The inter-linkages and inter-dependencies of these two vital areas will be discussed in terms of challenges faced by a growing population and increased demand by over 100 specialists from a variety of United Nations organisations and programmes such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Non-Governmental Organizations such as Greenpeace International, private companies such as Abengoa, EDF Électricité, BP and Government bodies such as the US department of State, and the European Union.

The conference is putting emphasis on the importance of collaboration through partnerships in meeting these challenges.

All contributions will be considered in preparation for World Water Day 2014, which will be introduced by Zafar Adeel, from the United Nations University (UNU). UNU, together with UNIDO, are leading this year’s World Water Day.

Water and energy face enormous challenges that affect supply and demand of both water and energy.

Water problems in developing countries are acute and complex
Water problems in developing countries are acute and complex

With an expected population growth from 7 billion today to 9 billion by 2050, economic growth, increased standards of living in developing and emerging countries and the pressures of climate change, the burden on water and energy independently are enormous.

The World needs to provide adequate electricity to the more than 1.4 billion people who are without it and supply sustainable water to the 768 million people who do not have access.

However, the conference aims to emphasize the vital relationship between the two. The production of energy requires vast amounts of water.

In 2010 energy production was responsible for 15 percent of the World’s total freshwater withdrawals. On the other side, energy is needed to provide access to water and sanitation.

In recognizing the inter-linkages and trade-offs in water and energy the conference recognizes the solution as working ‘together.’

With a focus on the advantages and disadvantages of partnerships as well as definition of responsibilities and liabilities, benefit sharing, symmetries, long-term sustainability, negotiation and the flexibility required.

Through partnership, the conference intends to deal with the disconnection between some water and energy utilities, create opportunities for industries to operate efficiently, profitably and sustainably and allow governments and regulators opportunities to consider policies that enable and integrate both sectors.

The International Annual UN-Water Conference 2014 focuses on the philosophy “Water and Energy work together, so do we”.

It will demonstrate, through case studies, to decision makers in the energy sector and the water domain that integrated approaches and solutions to water-energy issues are possible and they can achieve greater economic and social impacts.

It will serve to facilitate and enable new partnerships among energy and water actors.

women cooking using biogas at a Biocentre
women cooking using biogas at a Biocentre

The Conference will achieve these objectives by analyzing and evaluating the existing partnership experience; providing a platform for exchange of experiences of effective partnerships; drawing conclusions on lessons from existing experience and deciding the way forward for effective partnerships to achieve water/energy access.

This will allow a better response to the challenges of improved access to water and energy, as well as improving efficiency throughout the life cycle of resources and contributing towards a more sustainable future.

Water Journalists Africa, established in 2011 as a not-for-profit media organization, boasts a membership of journalists hailing from 50 African countries, dedicated to reporting on water, climate change,...

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