Global leaders who gathered in Stockholm for the 24th annual World Water Week on Monday urged governments to start coordinating water and energy sectors as the only way to avert a looming global crisis.
The leaders said that the enormous increase in demand for energy and electricity is increasing pressure on the already limited water resources, leading to increased water scarcity in several countries.
This according to the leaders will create serious problems for competition among other water users and the environment.
“We know that the demand for energy and water will increase greatly in the coming decades and the added demands will present challenges in all regions, especially in developing economies,” said Ms Hillevi Engstrom, the Swedish minister for International Development and Foreign Affairs at the opening of conference on Monday.
She further stated that the UN expects global water demand to increase by 55 percent by 2050, forcing over 40 percent of the world's population to live in areas of severe water stress.
She added that the global demand for energy will grow because most of the world's power production is water intensive and the growing demand for energy further limits access to water, especially for poor people.
“The challenge for policy-makers is to fully take into account the multiple aspects, roles and benefits of water. It is essential to have a long-term sustainability perspective,” she advised.
Mr. Torgny Holmgren, the Executive Director Stockholm International Water Institute that organized the world water week said that challenges are immense with the global demand for water projected to grow by 55 per cent between 2000 and 2050 and electricity demand expected to increase by 50 per cent in the next two decades.
He said that there is an urgent need for a closer relationship between the energy and water communities if the world is to provide solutions for all people to prosper.
Liberia President Hellen Johnson Sharif also added said that water access and energy should top the forthcoming 2015 sustainable development agenda to replace the millennium development goals.
The UN world Water Report shows that the rate of groundwater abstraction is increasing by 1 to 2 percent per year and that this is not enough to mitigate water stress in several areas.
More than 1.3 billion people worldwide still lack access to electricity, with more than 95percent of them located in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia. About 2.6 billion people rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking.
Another estimated 400 million people rely on coal for cooking and heating purposes, which, like wood, charcoal, peat or other biomass causes air pollution and has serious potential health implications when used in traditional stoves.