Mining is a high stakes industry. For the growing list of countries looking to translate underground assets into tangible benefits above the ground, the ability to negotiate and implement a good deal is critical. However, capacities to do so are often weak. A handy resource is now available to help countries. And it’s free!
The World Region
Most experts agree that energy efficiency is a critical building block for sustainable development. This is because improvements in energy efficiency strengthen a country’s energy security, increase competitiveness, ease shortages in energy supply, and lower environmental impacts including local and greenhouse gas emissions.
Why doesn’t it happen then?
In July, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released reports (see U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather and Water-Smart Power: Strengthening the U.S. Electricity System in a Warming World) highlighting the energy sector’s vulnerability to future water constraints. The reports’ findings paint a worrisome picture: currently, 60% of coal power plants in the U.S. are experiencing water stress; hydropower is threatened due to more frequent and severe droughts; and energy infrastructure is endangered by water variability due to climate change.
Water is critical for producing power, and vice versa. Almost all energy generation processes require significant amounts of water, and the treatment and transport of water requires energy, mainly in the form of electricity. Even though the interdependency between water and energy is gaining wider recognition worldwide, water and energy planning often remain distinct. The tradeoffs involved in balancing one need against the other in this “energy-water nexus,” as it is called, are often not clearly identified or taken into account, complicating possible solutions.
Energy is essential to heat homes and cook meals. It is needed to deliver proper health care in hospitals and to teach children. It is essential for economic growth and development and for powering industries, farms and businesses. It is at the heart of any effort to make a better life possible for people all over the world, in particular for the world’s poorest.
Film is a powerful tool for explaining environmental issues. I first learnt this lesson while trying to enlist local communities in northern Vietnam to help protect a strange blue faced and critically endangered primate called the Tonkin Snub Nosed Monkey. After a morning spent bombarding local leaders with facts and figures, they were polite but unmoved.
I’m on my way to Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the 2013 Clean Cooking Forum organized by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Consider this stunning fact: household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels kills four million people each year. That’s the finding of the latest Global Burden of Disease study, published in December 2012.
It’s 2013 and already, my calendar for the year is filling up with activities, projects and events. But this year, I’m even more excited than usual to look up at my wall, because this year’s calendar focuses on the World Bank’s Gender and Extractive Industries (EI) program. With a different cartoon each month, conceptualized by members of the Oil, Gas, and Mining team, the calendar features different dimensions of gender and the oil, gas, and mining industries, and the lessons we’ve been learning through our work in extractives-impacted countries and communities.
Whether it be from The Wall Street Journal, or YouTube, by now most of us have heard the arguments for and against development of “shale gas”, and as a member of the World Bank’s Oil, Gas and Mining Unit, hardly a day goes by that I do not receive a notice about an article, a presentation or a conference on this topic.
It’s been clear here at the World Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi that the International Renewable Energy Agency, or IRENA, is fast emerging as a leader in forging a more sustainable energy future. With 159 countries—plus the EU— having joined it, a staff of 70 and a $28-million annual budget, IRENA held its third Executive Assembly here, making an impressive show on the sidelines of the summit. One example is its Renewable Energy Roadmap, which attracted lively interest among delegates.
French President François Hollande put his country on the Sustainable Energy for All train here at the World Energy Future Summit yesterday, affirming France's support for the initiative, whose advisory board is co-chaired by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In a speech devoted to the theme of preparing for the "après pétrole" era, Hollande highlighted three steps: first, create international funds for renewable energy investment pooling resources from petroleum exporting and importing countries; second, radically rethink our model of urbanization to make it less energy intensive; and third, secure a Global Climate Change Agreement for 2015, France stands ready to host the CoP and facilitate an agreement.