World Water Day 2014: a coordinated approach to meeting water and energy demand

22 March 2014 | News story

On World Water Day, IUCN joins the international community in highlighting the close links between water and energy use and the need for a coordinated approach to ensure the world can meet the growing demand for both.

Demand for freshwater and energy will continue to increase significantly over the coming decades. Demand for one will stimulate demand for the other. Agriculture accounts for roughly 70% of water use and hydropower provides 20% of the world’s electricity and is the main energy source for more than 30 countries.

Water provision, energy supply and food production all rely on water infrastructure. With growing demand and shrinking availability of natural resources, more needs to be done to develop effective ways of delivering water to fields, power plants, industries and cities.

Water infrastructure includes engineered structures such as dams, reservoirs, canals and irrigation systems. But it also includes ‘natural infrastructure’ — ecosystems such as river basins that supply water, mangroves that buffer against severe storms, floodplains which absorb flood waters, forests that stabilise soils and wetlands that clean and store water.

If this natural infrastructure is healthy and well-functioning, it supports built infrastructure to protect, store, clean and deliver water for various uses.

IUCN is working with the International Water Association on the Nexus Dialogue on Water Infrastructure Solutions. This initiative highlights the need for a cross-sectoral approach in finding solutions that balance environmental, social and economic concerns.

The vision of the Nexus project is coordinated planning and development of water infrastructure that combines man-made infrastructure and technology with nature-based infrastructure in a global effort to achieve water security.

Facts

• 47% of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030
• An estimated 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production
• 1.3 billion people lack acces to electricity
• 768 million lack access to clean drinking water


For more information contact:

Cristina Machado, Water Programme Temporary Communications Officer,
t +41 22 999 0184, e cristina.machado@iucn.org