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What is the Water and Energy Nexus?
Approximately 2.8 billion persons across the globe, especially in developing countries reside in highly “water-stressed areas,” and another 1.3 billion people have limited access to electricity. The necessity for water and energy gives rise to increasing demand from a rapidly growing population. Most electric utility companies in developing regions are confronted with scarce water resources for energy production. Energy production requires large volumes of water. Likewise, water supplies are dependent on energy for treatment and transportation. Often in developing countries, governments treat water and energy policies separately in achieving sustainable development. The sustainable use of water and energy should be in a connected state. This holistic approach is described as the water-energy nexus. Water is interdependent on energy as illustrated in figure 1 below.
Figure 1: The Relationship between the Water and Energy Nexus. Source: VI World Water Forum
Water-Energy Nexus Challenges in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
Sustainable development in most Small Island Developing States SIDS is benchmarked on poverty alleviation and strong economic growth through efficient and sustainable use of water and energy resources. The United Nation’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in September 2011 launched a global initiative on Sustainable Energy for all where he shared his outlook for increased improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. Governments and the private sector in most developing countries supported this initiative. Therefore, as it relates to achieving sustainable development through the efficient use of resources, it is essential to consider the issues of the water-energy nexus that lies ahead in developing countries (World Water Forum, 2012).
The Caribbean region faces parallel water and energy security challenges like in the Asian Pacific and sub-Saharan African regions. These regions share similar diverse socio-economic, political and environmental settings. These settings limit the provision of cheap energy and clean water to a growing population. The population in Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to increase by 40% in 2050 (World Water Forum, 2012). In this context, the Caribbean’s most socially vulnerable will have limited access to already inadequate water and energy resources. Given the ethical issues and challenges of the water-energy nexus, it is crucial that governments examine the challenges of achieving a sustainable water-energy nexus in the Caribbean.
Strategies to Address the Water-Energy Nexus Ethical Issues in the Caribbean Region
While we expect governments in the region to focus on increasing economic growth, this in turn, creates a higher demand in both the water and energy sectors. Therefore, our policymakers, government leaders, and the private sector must seek to address the following considerations;
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