Water is needed in almost all energy generation processes, from hydropower production and energy extraction, to cooling in thermal power plants. At the same time, the water sector needs energy to extract, treat and transport water.
These inextricable connections between water and energy – and how best to manage them for the benefit of the poor – will be the focus of this year’s World Water Week, the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues.
“Today the process of urbanization, decentralization of the nation state, addressing the challenge of fragility of nations, linkages into challenges of energy for all or food security --all of these development challenges will require us to understand how to manage water in global and inter-sectoral contexts,” said Junaid Ahmad, Senior Director, Water, World Bank Group, who will address World Water Week participants during the Opening Plenary, along with Anita George, Senior Director, Energy & Extractives, World Bank Group.
More than 748 million people lack access to potable water, 2.5 billion lack access to sanitation, and over 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity. Geographically, most of those living in water poverty are the same people who live in energy poverty. They are among the world’s poorest people and the most underserved in basic services.
“One statistic that challenges me every day in my job is the fact that, with business as usual, the number of Africans without access to electricity will grow,” said Anita George, Senior Director, Energy & Extractives, World Bank Group. “With the scale of unmet need for electricity and the mounting water scarcity facing countries, we need to focus on areas where water and energy meet –ensuring sustainable hydropower, reducing harmful energy subsidies, and improving wastewater treatment and management.”
Water constraints have already adversely impacted the energy sector in many parts of the world. In the United States and Europe, power plants have had to temporarily shut down or reduce electricity generation due to low water flows or high water temperatures.
Despite these concerns, current energy planning and production is often made without taking into account existing and future water constraints.
Earlier this year, the water and energy units of the World Bank jointly launched the Thirsty Energy Initiative to promote more sustainable management of water and energy resources in our work with governments throughout the world. With the energy sector as an entry point, Thirsty Energy quantifies tradeoffs and identifies synergies between water and energy resource management.
It is these types of cross-cutting solutions that are critical for developing innovative technical tools and approaches and policy-oriented guidance to help countries develop and manage their energy and water resources in a sustainable way.
Join us for World Water Week
The water and energy challenges will impact the entire development community. We encourage you to follow us on Twitter @WorldBankWater to join the discussion in Stockholm at World Water Week (#wwweek). Share your ideas, ask the hard questions, tell us how your work is affected by these issues, and work with us toward the solutions.
Last Updated: Aug 29, 2014