UN leaders put water and energy demand top of global development agenda

United Nations (UN) leaders have highlighted the risks associated with the growing relationship between water and energy in the run up to World Water Day (Saturday 22 March).

The UN says roughly 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production

The UN says roughly 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production

The UN's 2014 World Water Development report stresses the need for policies and regulatory frameworks that recognise and integrate approaches to water and energy priorities.

According to the report, roughly 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production.

Illustrating their interdependence, the report says that if water is subsidised to sell below cost, as is often the case, energy producers, who are major water consumers, are less likely to conserve it. Alternatively, energy subsidies are likely to drive up water usage.

The report stresses the imperative of coordinating political governance and ensuring that water and energy prices reflect real costs and environmental impacts.

Rector of United Nations University (UNU), David Malone, this year's coordinator of World Water Day, said "energy and water are at the top of the global development agenda".

"Significant policy gaps exist in this nexus at present, and the UN plays an instrumental role in providing evidence and policy-relevant guidance.

"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," added Malone.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Director-General LI Yong, emphasised 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, " said LI.

Leigh Stringer


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