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Rising energy needs to drain world’s water resources: UN

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Tokyo, March 21: The growing global demand for energy would have its negative bearing on world’s fresh water resources, says the latest 2014 UN World Water Development Report (WWDR).

Released in Tokyo Friday on the eve of World Water Day, the report urges for improved management and planning at all levels to avoid shortages in energy and water supplies and the further deterioration of natural resources. 

“The report shines light on the interdependence between the management of water and energy. This interdependence calls for improved cooperation between these sectors because there would be no sustainable development without better access to water and energy for all,” Irina Bokova, director-general, UNESCO, said in a statement.

According to the report, in the Indian part of the Western Indus Basin, decades of cheap energy – associated with the digging of millions of private wells and inefficient irrigation techniques – have led to an over-exploitation of the water table. 

Painting a grim picture, the report states that 768 million people around the globe have no access to an improved source of water.

Nearly 2.5 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation while 1.3 billion people are not connected to an electric power grid and close to 2.6 billion use solid fuel-mainly biomass – to cook, it added. 

The places where people do not have adequate access to water largely coincide with those where people have no electric power, and how closely the two sectors are inter-connected, the report said.

The report also states that by 2035, population growth, urbanisation and changing consumption patterns are expected to push water use for energy up by 20 percent. 

Demand for electricity is expected to rise by 70 percent by 2035 with more than half of this growth due to developments in China and India, the report noted.

In 2050, 2.3 billion people would be living in regions subjected to severe water stress, notably in North Africa, Central and South Asia.

The WWDR is a collaborative effort of the 31 UN entities and 36 international Partners that make up UN-Water.

World Water Day is celebrated March 22 every year.