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Itaipu and UN DESA partnership will allow organizations to share water and energy solutions
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06/12/2018

The interdependence between water and energy and its direct relationship with sustainable development were the points in common in the statements of the representatives of Itaipu Binacional and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (UN DESA) during the launch of the Global Network of Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions, last Tuesday (4th), during the UN Conference on Climate Change in Katowice, Poland.

The network is the result of a partnership signed between the two institutions in March. The initiative will have a platform for sharing knowledge and good practices with an integrated approach to the Sustainable Development Objectives (SDGs) numbers 6 and 7 (Clean water and sanitation, and Affordable and clean energy, respectively). The idea is also to hold meetings for the training and to attract new partners.

As the Under-Secretary-General for UN DESA Liu Zhenmin explains, water and energy are interconnected and crucial issues for the UN Agenda 2030. In Brazil, for example, the availability of water has a direct relationship with much of the energy generation, since hydro accounts for about 70% of the national electricity supply. At the same time, the process of treatment and supply of drinking water is highly dependent on electricity.

But even considering the other sources of generation, the use of water resources is intensive in 90% of the world's electricity generation, according to Zhenmin. The UN DESA executive also drew attention to the fact that 1 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity, and 2.1 billion people do not have clean water at home.

"The next decade is a window of opportunity for the international community to take action on these issues and to make significant progress. In this scenario, the integrated approach of SDGs 6 and 7 is a powerful tool", said Zhenmin. "And Itaipu is an example of this, as I personally witnessed last May", he added.

Itaipu was represented at the launch by the financial directors, Mário Cecato (Brazil) and Monica Perez dos Santos (Paraguay), who emphasized the company's commitment to sharing its experiences in promoting territorial development, biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, and income generation.

"This partnership with UN DESA is closely linked to our company. Water and energy are key issues for Itaipu's activities", said Cecato. "It is from the water and energy care that Itaipu demonstrates its commitment to promoting economic, social and environmental development, both in Brazil and in Paraguay", Monica added.

The launch ceremony was also attended by the Executive Director of the International Hydroelectricity Association (IHA), Richard Taylor. "There are very few successful examples such as Itaipu in terms of sustainable development, just as there are few countries that have been developing like Paraguay, which in this case is due to the reliable energy supply that the country has", Taylor said. "So we have to learn from this example. The time to act is now."

How it works

The network's proposal is to attract other organizations, governments or companies working with this integrated approach between water and energy. And among the potential partners who have already expressed an interest in joining the network are the World Energy Council and the Spanish government, both with a long track record on this issue, according to UN Minoru Takada, who attended the launching ceremony.

To join the platform, UN DESA is asking interested parties to produce case studies about their practices. After analysis by the UN body, the studies will be made available online.