Mr. Eliott Harris Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist

Opening Remarks
Consultative Meeting: Sustainable water and energy solutions as an integrated response to climate change

Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you very much to all of you for being here.

Please allow me also to thank our host and co-organizer, the International Hydropower Association, as well as our partner and co-organizer, Itaipu Binational, for their leadership and contributions to make this important gathering possible.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Richard first said SDG6 and SDG7 lead to SDG13.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change are our collective response to building a better sustainable future in the coming decade.

Together, they provide a transformative vision for shared prosperity, peace and partnership on a healthy planet.

But realizing that vision means that we must address climate change as a matter of utmost urgency.

Ladies and gentlemen,

2018 was a record-breaking year, but not for the right reasons.

It was the fourth warmest year on record.

About 60 million people were affected by extreme weather.

The 2018 Special Report by the IPCC stated that the world is not on track to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5oC, as outlined in the Paris Agreement—and the window to get there is closing fast.

But, beyond the weather impacts, climate change has a human face.

And, as is always the case, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer and the worst impacted.

Climate change is a threat multiplier.  It is linked to many of humanity’s most pressing issues, including health, poverty, hunger, inequality, water and energy, among others—which are reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals.

That is why addressing climate change also offers humanity’s greatest chance to positively impact these goals.

At the same time, the achievement of the SDGs themselves provide an impetus towards a just and equitable transition to a climate-safe future.

Water and energy are central to such integrated response.

Ladies and gentlemen,
We cannot forget that in 30 years there will be two billion more people living on this planet. They will all want access to same basic services.

A transformative approach to energy and water will be essential not only to the achievement of SDG 6 on water and SDG 7 on energy; most importantly, such an approach can make all our Sustainable Development Goals possible.

Recent trends underpin the critical importance of this transformative approach.

Despite the significant growth of renewable energy solutions, energy is still responsible for about 2/3 of the worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

Water-related disasters have accounted for almost 90 per cent of the 1,000 most devastating natural disasters since 1990. The damage caused by water-related disasters is enormous – ranging from 15 to 40 per cent of annual GDP for some small economies.

Climate change will continue to exacerbate these challenges.

However, energy and water can also be part of the solution.

Thanks to dramatic cost reductions and technology improvements, a transformation of the energy system focused on renewable energy is more achievable than ever before.

With reliable access to water resources, many efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can also be met, as most greenhouse gas reduction strategies are water-dependent due to energy-related water needs.

But since water and energy are intricately interlinked, implementing integrated approaches becomes essential.

If we commit to integrated action on water and energy, we can advance the Paris climate goals and the Sustainable Development Goals simultaneously.

This is why UN DESA and Itaipu Binational launched the global network on “Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions” at COP24.

The goal of this Network is to provide a global platform for all stakeholders to enhance capacities and signal their high-level commitment to the integrated approach to SDG 6 and SDG 7 in support of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

We know what we need to do to achieve this goal:

First, to increase capacity of governmental institutions and relevant stakeholders to implement integrated water and energy approaches;

Second, to enhance knowledge management and best practice sharing on water and energy interlinkages;

Third, to enhance global advocacy and outreach on water and energy interlinkages for climate and sustainable development action;

And last, but by no means least, to mobilize and scale up multi-stakeholder action stimulating integrated water- energy responses.

The ambition is high, but so is the challenge.

Today, we will hear from some of the experiences from network members in implementing integrated water and energy solutions as a response to climate change.

We will also hear your inputs and specific ideas on how this global network can help enhance integrated approaches to water and energy management.

Your insights are of utmost importance for our joint work.

Thank you again for joining and I look forward to fruitful discussions.

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