Third World Centre for Water Management


Water and energy as non-traditional security issues

Cecilia Tortajada

Centre on Asia and Globalisation & Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy | September 10, 2014

The world has become increasingly globalised and interconnected, witnessing what may be a historical transfer of wealth and economic power from the West to the East. However, the unprecedented rates of economic and population growth, positive from so many viewpoints, seem to be overwhelming the pace of progress in curbing environmental and resource pressure. This, in turn, is having negative long-term impacts on the development processes the countries are undergoing.

Natural resource sectors at the global level are facing increasing demands for their outputs driven by the rapid growth of emerging economies like India and China. Yet, stronger policies need to be in place to reduce the environmental impacts that result from the exploitation and use of the very same water, energy, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and minerals that are fuelling this economic growth.

In a world with increasing energy needs, water availability in terms of quantity and quality becomes not only a necessary, but also a strategic resource for development. At present, some 2-3% of the world energy consumption is used to extract, pump, transport, treat and distribute water only for domestic use. Equally, water is needed for energy consumption as the large-scale generation of electricity invariably requires, and depends, on water.

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