Earth’s energy demands must mesh more seamlessly with the water and sanitation needs of an increasingly water-stressed globe, a United Nations special envoy said today to wrap up Stockholm World Water Week.
“Energy and water are two sides of the same coin, the energy technologies are very thirsty,” said Kandeh Yumkella, special representative of the UN secretary-general and the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative chief executive.
“From now on we must talk about these two things together,” Yumkella said at the closing session of the annual event that drew 2,500 people from PepsiCo Inc. (PEP:US) and Coca-Cola Co. to Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Merck & Co. and Nestle SA (NESN) to the Stockholm suburb of Aelvsjoe. Consider water a connector and not a sector, “we must have nexus thinking.”
The Sierra Leone envoy warned of a world growing in population and energy demands that UN data shows by 2030 will be one in which almost 50 percent of the people live in high water-stress areas amid changing climate, millions leaving rural zones as drought encroaches for cities, an Earth that will need 40 percent more energy and almost a third more water.
Today’s population by 2050 is expected to expand from 7 billion to 9 billion, prompting 70 percent more food and higher energy demands from oil, gas and mining companies to farmers and consumers.
That’s already raising tensions in water-stressed areas that border waterways as “water footprint” data shows it takes 3,000 gallons (11,300 liters) of water to make a quarter-pound burger and 40 barrels of water to produce a barrel of oil.
“We’ve identified 20 potential hotspots” for water conflicts, Yumkella said of areas such as Yemen, Jordan, the Nile River basin and transboundary sites in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. “Energy security is real, energy demand is real.”
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden presented sanitation specialist Peter Morgan of Zimbabwe the Stockholm Water Prize yesterday for lifelong works to protect the health of millions from unsafe water and poor sanitation.
The citation honored Morgan for working in a world in which 2.5 billon people live without access to improved sanitation, 1.1 billion practice open defecation and about 58 percent of the urban population in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to sanitation facilities.
The award cited Morgan’s outdoor toilet innovations, including the B-type bush pump and Blair Ventilated Pit latrine that’s been adopted as the national standard by Zimbabwe’s government.
Netafim of Tel Aviv won the Stockholm Industry Water Award this week for pioneering drip and micro-irrigation technologies that have improved water, energy and agricultural productivities since starting in a Negev desert kibbutz in 1965.
The junior water prize was awarded to two students from Chile who traveled to Antarctica to identify bacterial strains with the potential to clean oil-contaminated waters by metabolizing it in extremely low temperatures.
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