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World Water Day 2014 explores the nexus between water and energy

24 March 2014

The theme of this year’s World Water Day (March 22) was “water and energy”. These two subjects are intrinsically interconnected and highly interdependent. The nexus between the two was discussed thoroughly at this World Water Day’s official meeting held in Tokyo, Japan. Energy and water: Emphasis on one can affect the other, both positively and negatively. While 16% of water is used worldwide to generate hydroelectric energy, and 75% of industrial water use is to generate energy, the question related to the human right to water, for basic sustenance of life, looms large in the minds of many.

While 1.3 billion people still lack access to electricity, and 768 million (in 2011) still lack access to clean water, the ethical question remains unanswered as to who pays the costs, and for whose benefit? Is it justified to use so much water for energy generation? Can energy production and access to clean water go hand in hand? Why do we not encourage sustainable alternative sources of energy, such as solar energy, as currently this  amounts to a mere 0.2% of total energy production? These are the questions we need to answer.

Answers to such questions are covered in the 5th edition of the World Water Development Report that was released at the aforementioned official event of the UN-World Water Day. In order to meet the goals related to water and sanitation in the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the link between water and energy will play a vital role.

Like many other stakeholders, the Ecumenical Water Network (EWN) of the World Council of Churches will be looking for answers to the above questions, as it continues its Lenten campaign – Seven Weeks for Water. One of its main objectives is to raise awareness among the churches on issues of injustice related to water and sanitation. We stress these issues around World Water Day, which falls during the Christian churches’ Lenten period every year.

Since the World Water Development Report has not yet been made public, you can see a teaser by lead author Rick Connor.

Partners of the EWN, the National Council of Churches in India and United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India have prepared a worship resource making use of the resource materials from the EWN’s Lenten campaign - Seven Weeks for Water. Inspired by the "Climate Sail" of Germany, partners of EWN, JELC launched a "Study, Training and Documentation" programme on Water on the World Water Day to provide youths an opportunity to understand and respect the ecosystem through a sail.

The EWN led a prayer service at the Ecumenical Centre on Monday 24 March. Prayers were offered on issues related to water justice. You can find the order of service here. Dinesh Suna, coordinator of the Ecumenical Water Network, shared a brief reflection in the prayer service.