Cross-cutting issues 1

Coordinating energy and water policies and governance

Unintended consequences of energy development for water, and vice versa, often have their roots in fragmented policies, e.g. energy subsidies in some parts of the world contributing to unsustainable groundwater overdraft through excessive pumping. The energy and water worlds seem to be divided between those who focus on technical solutions, and those who assume that the challenge is rather one of politics and governance. In taking a “systems view” energy and water policies need to be coordinated. In developing effective energy and water governance different characteristics and traditions prevail: while energy production most often is centrally managed, good water governance needs to include local, de-centralised planning and management in dialogue with affected stakeholders. For both, top-down needs to meet bottom-up governance.

As evident when addressing the water, energy and food security linkages, real engagement of actors from other sectors is a pre-condition for success. For water the implementation of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach includes energy, but its role has not been sufficiently examined. In the energy sector policy choices, whether conventional or alternative, must depend on water resources availability and vulnerability. Both require stakeholder involvement in the entire chain from resource exploitation through regulation to consumption, including consideration of both energy and water in the food chain from “field to fork”. Poor and vulnerable stakeholders in developing countries require special attention, as does improved gender equality and youth participation.