At the just concluded Stockholm World Water Week, the Global Water Initiative team had a fantastic run. The week’s theme was on the water-energy nexus and provided for some really interesting and informed discussions. One such session featured Donath Fungu, GWI EA Programme Coordinator, CARE Tanzania, whose contributions on smallholder farmers during a panel discussion provided fodder for a full page editorial in the next day’s papers.
The 2014 World Water Week just ended in Stockholm and this year’s theme was ‘Water and Energy: a vital link for a sustainable future‘.
All discussions centred on the water, energy and food nexus. It’s argued that water and energy are inextricably linked and interdependent and among the world’s pre eminent challenges. We need water for energy, cooling, storage, biofuels, hydro power among others, and we need energy to pump, treat and desalinate water. Water and energy are a prerequisite for the satisfaction of basic human needs, production of food for a rapidly growing population and achievement of economic growth. The challenge, though, is how can energy be sustainably supplied without exhausting the limited available water resources? It takes large amounts of energy to pump and treat water and similarly large amounts of water to produce energy. Addressing this challenge requires cross sector collaboration.
During his welcome address, Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of Stockholm International Water Institute observed that, as the global demand for both energy and water increases, there is an urgent need for policy makers to rethink the ways in which populations produce and use both resources, to ensure shared prosperity for all citizens, protect the environment, achieve socio economic development and secure peace and stability. However, how we achieve this sectoral collaboration remains another challenge. Among the questions arising; How do we translate global policy to local reality? How do we change mindsets to be able to do this given the different government institutional set ups? How much partnership is required? What do we need to integrate?
Dr Joachim Harlin of UNDP, in a dialogue during the UN stakeholder sector seminar on water energy food nexus and the post 2015 development agenda, hinted that this can happen through; creating policy coherence by overcoming fragmentation within sectors; making a business case for water energy nexus; fostering enabling conditions and building on success stories especially of private-public partnerships at hand.
This year’s conference brought together energy and water professionals from science and research communities, NGOs, governments, researchers, and the private sector from around the world. It occurs between two major milestones in the process leading to a post 2015 development framework; the release of the UN open working group recommendations and the UN general assembly in September.
It’s interesting to know that the Open working group, through various consultations with different stakeholders; governments, organizations, has come up with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, for consideration and appropriate action by the General Assembly at its 68th session. The draft SDGs are quite ambitious and the UN general assembly has an uphill task to reduce them to a number that is manageable.
For GWI EA this has been the perfect opportunity to bring the voice of smallholder farmers into the debate, highlighting the difficulties they face and the importance of smallholder farms to energy and water management. Worth noting is that today’s agriculture accounts for about 70 percent of the world’s fresh water withdrawals and food demand is expected to double by 2050 due to population increase, change in diets and climate change. Therefore, water saving agricultural practices and effective and equitable water management methods are needed throughout both rain fed and irrigated food production systems.
It was both inspiring and humbling to have sat and listened to the give and take of conversation and discussions that echoed through the halls at Stockholmsmässan, the venue for World Water Week. New ideas were considered, new partnerships forged and commitments reaffirmed for making water stewardship and the basic human right of access to clean water and energy a reality.
GWI EA, Uganda
This blog was shared on the Water, Energy & Food Security Nexus Resource Platform. Read more here