Asia-Pacific Must Get Smarter on Water and Energy Policies

UN Commemoration of World Water Day 2014

The importance of water and energy as lifelines for sustainable growth and prosperity in the region was a key message of the World Water Day (WWD) celebration at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) today.

In commemoration of WWD 2014, ESCAP and the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), together with the Government of Thailand held a joint event in Bangkok, under the global theme: Water and Energy.

“Water and energy, both central to the basic needs of people, and the well-being of our planet, are lifelines to sustainable economic and social prosperity,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar in her opening remarks. “Strongly interlinked and interdependent, the nexus between water and energy is critical for sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region.”

In 2012, 4.3 billion people (about 60% of the global population) were living in the region. Yet Asia-Pacific has only about 38% of the world’s freshwater. As a result, the region has some of the lowest regional per capita water availability in the world. While Asia-Pacific energy consumption remains lower than the global average, this is expected to rise sharply in the next three decades, to drive the required pace of regional economic growth.

“The growing challenges of the water-energy nexus require innovative and pragmatic solutions, application of the right technologies, and supportive economic enablers,” Ms. Akhtar stressed. “These elements need to be integrated into national policies for more efficient and effective energy and water services.”

The WWD event also featured the regional launch of the United Nations World Water Development Report 2014 and a panel discussion on ‘Water and Energy,’ followed by a session on ‘Integrated Resource Management in Asian Cities-The Urban Nexus,’ in partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

“Without improved cooperation between the water and energy sectors, the bleak reality is that sustainable development is unachievable,” said Dr. Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Bangkok at the launch. “The survival of the rich water-based cultures of the Asia-Pacific region and, indeed, our collective future depends on our ability to understand the connections between water and energy and develop policies that take an integrated approach to their management for sustainability.”

This year’s World Water Day commemoration was held alongside the ESCAP/UN-HABITAT ‘Regional Policy Workshop of Stakeholders on Decentralized Waste Water Treatment Systems (DEWATS) in South-East Asia.’ The three-day event enhanced participants knowledge of DEWATS, their capacity to generate innovative financing from financial institutions and donors for DEWATS, as well as their capacity in building, operating and maintaining the systems.

Note to editors:
The World Water Development Report 2014 is produced by the World Water Assessment Programme, a programme of UN-Water hosted by UNESCO, and is the result of the joint efforts of the UN agencies and entities which make up UN-Water, working in partnership with governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. This year’s report took the thematic focus of ‘Water and Energy.’

Please view the report: