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 waterenergy nexus, particulary 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.