ESCWA Deputy Executive Secretary Nadim Khouri opened today the consultative intergovernmental meeting on the “Water and Energy Nexus in the ESCWA Region” at the UN House in Beirut. In his statement, he asked about the requirements of energy and water sectors in ESCWA countries to ensure the success of the sustainable development operation, as it is paradoxical for ESCWA countries to be a reservoir of 52.9 per cent of proven reserves of oil, 25.3 per cent of the world listed reserves of gas, a mine of renewable energy, and the least fortunate when it comes to water resources, while more than 60 per cent of the world's desalinated water is produced in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Khouri added that the water supply and treatment required energy consumption, and that energy production and its transfer were in need of water resources. He said that energy and water sectors were so intertwined that they developed with each other, and that climate change was also a cornerstone of work between both sectors. On the basis of international and regional initiatives in the field of energy that was put forward by the most recent Mediterranean solar energy plan, which seeks to secure the supply of Europe's electricity produced from solar energy and wind power, Khouri raised a number of concerns notably on the presence of regional initiatives to secure water supplies to ESCWA countries, and the role of technologies, finance, regional cooperation, and international agreements in this regard.
Speakers at the opening session also included Mustafa Ibrahim Khamis, Vice-Chairman of the ESCWA Committee on Energy in its 8th session and Deputy Minister for Local Authorities in the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Energy; and Adel Yahya Al-Haddad, Chairman of the 9th Session of the ESCWA Committee on Water Resources and Deputy Minister for Water Affairs in the Yemeni Ministry of Water and Environment.
Khamis said, “the current approach to achieve sustainable development through enhancing its three dimensions namely the economic, the social and the environmental, and their integration rendered cooperation among our countries of special importance to ensure benefiting from the regional development pillars, and mobilization of efforts to activate Arab integration and achieve optimum utilization of available natural resources in the region as well as coordinating the areas of work between the different sectors, including energy and water resources”.
For his part, Haddad said that the meeting aimed to stimulate thinking about issues related to the water-energy nexus, and identify priorities that required the study and attention from ESCWA member countries. He added that participants would also examine possible mechanisms and institutional arrangements to organize policy coordination and harmonization used in the energy and water sectors.
The meeting will conclude tomorrow, Thursday. An overview of the water-energy linkages in the region will be presented at the first session, while participants will discuss their perception on the regional mapping of water-energy linkages. The third session will tackle key regional and national issues related to water and energy sectors in ESCWA region and member countries.
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