Cammerman, N, 2009 –– Integrated Water Management and the Energy, Water, Climate Change Nexus
The interconnections between water, energy and climate are complex (DHI, 2007). Water and energy are fundamental components of modern civilisation. Without energy, we cannot run computers, power homes, schools, offices or manufacture products (Pacific Institute, 2009). Water is indispensable for all forms of life and is needed in almost all human activities (UNESCO, 2003).
During the last eighty years, Australia’s population has tripled and, according to ABS projections, is set to further swell from 21.3 million in 2008 to between 30.9 million and 42.5 million by 2056 (DIC, 2008) which will in turn increase demand for water and energy. This projected increase in demand for water and energy is set in the context of a changing and variable climate which continues to be exacerbated by anthropogenic activities.
Distribution patterns and timing of rainfall patterns are set to shift, altering patterns of access to water, creating surplus in some areas and deficits in others (IPCC, 2007).
Given the increasing competition and demand for natural resources, it has been recognised that approaches for considering energy security which do not simultaneously assess the consequences of the energy choice on climate and water and without accounting for them in the development of energy plans are unlikely to be sustainable. Similarly, in the consideration of water security, the energy requirements and climatic impacts of each solution must be taken into account (Gautier, 2008). Whilst some studies have been undertaken, overall there is a dearth of literature investigating the interconnectedness and co-dependency of water, energy and climate systems.
At the 2008 International River Symposium held in Brisbane a dialogue regarding the critical need to understand and to respond to water-energy-climate change (WECC) linkages was convened by DHI, a water research and consulting organisation, together with several partners: the World Water Council, the International River Symposium, the Fenner Centre for Environment (Australian National University), the International Water Centre (Brisbane), and the Australian Water Association. Emanating from this discussion a number of principles for action were recommended, at both national and international levels, in order to progress proactive WECC responses from policy makers.
Drawing on the WECC outcomes agreed upon at the 2008 International River Symposium, the research undertaken in this report intends to move the WECC dialogue from principles to action. The preliminary purpose of this report is to analyse the interconnectedness between water, energy and climate change with reference to Australia and specifically to the state of Queensland. The report builds on current understandings of the complex and intertwined WECC issues and, using suggested policy responses, offers a way forward in the management and adaptation to WECC challenges.
About Nathan Cammerman
A geologist by initial training, Nathan has more recently been involved in the facilitation of land access agreements. Often working in a project management capacity, he has been involved in the building of consensus through the establishment of trust within multi-stakeholder and multi-cultural environments. It is Nathan's goal to be a champion in the development of best practice approaches to sustainable water management. Nathan will finish Master of Integrated Water Management in 2009.