“Water and Energy”
Less well-known, is that the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is a key factor both for managing water use and energy production. We are glad that the world is paying more attention to the water-energy nexus.
Examples include using the water storage abilities of wetlands to help regulate flows, using forested catchments to reduce erosion risks and improving vegetation. Natural infrastructure approaches also deliver significant collateral benefits, such as better landscapes for food security.
There are good examples of the role of this natural infrastructure in improving efficiency and sustainability at the water-energy nexus. For example, improved biodiversity management in the catchment of one of the world’s largest hydropower projects, the Itaipu Dam, located between Brazil and Paraguay, has increased the facility’s life expectancy several fold by reducing sedimentation in the reservoir. This also improved the surrounding area’s land productivity and biodiversity. In farming systems, restoring soil biodiversity and land cover to improve soil functions and water cycling is an important strategy to increase the sustainability of bio-energy crops.
sustainable water resource management. These contributions from biodiversity and ecosystems are frequently overlooked when considering the water-energy nexus. The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 – 2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, especially Target 14 (“By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities and the poor and vulnerable”), was specifically developed to address these kinds of linkages and opportunities. Water and energy managers and users increasingly recognize that implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity is indeed relevant to them and their needs.
Images by Mike Leveille, 2014