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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

European Energy Network (EnR) Working Group on Water-Energy Nexus

ADENE – Portuguese Energy Agency on behalf of EnR – European Energy Network (

    The Water-Energy Nexus Working-group, to be created under the European Energy Network (EnR), aims to contribute towards the European Green Deal targets and to boost resource efficiency, through the discussion around the interlinkages between water and energy, as key resources and dependable energy and water sources for Climate’s New Era.
    EnR Working Group on Water-Energy Nexus (EnR WEN WG) will be established as a formal working group of the EnR network, the European network of national energy agencies, which aims to contribute to the introduction and strengthening of the water theme and the water-energy nexus in national and European public policies, particularly those that specifically refer to energy and energy-climate, and the respective operationalization in the different European countries represented in the network.
    This working group will be formally established this year, in the week following the UN 2023 Water Conference, during the EnR Full Members Meeting that will occur in Berlin by 28th March.

    The interdependences between energy and other resources, particularly water, jeopardizes climate mitigation and adaptation goals, and is driving the energy sector to look beyond energy. Water faces increased shortages due to climate change, and is critical for energy production, including renewables (eg. hydropower, solar, biofuels) and new energy vectors (eg. hydrogen). Additionally, growing competition for water between the energy sector, consumers and other economic activities requires increasing water efficiency and conservation practices in all sectors, as well as mainstreaming alternative water sources, which in turn require high energy input that should be provided by renewable sources. Water use is also associated to significant energy use (water utilities, industries, buildings).
    The European Energy Agencies have valuable contributions to the energy sector. The water-energy nexus approach is becoming critical to energy activities, stakeholders, and European targets. Furthermore, it presents untapped opportunities of economies of scope and scale, increasing energy and water savings, impact and return on investment when compared to traditional approaches focused solely on energy or water.
    Therefore, proposed main goals for EnR WEN WG are to contribute and advocate for the Water-Energy Nexus approach under current and future European and national policies on water, energy, and climate action, fostering stronger connection between these policies at EU and Countries levels.

    To achieve these goals, EnR WEN WG has the following four main objectives:
    • Exchange information | share experiences and best practices on water efficiency and combined water-energy efficiency; Water-energy nexus in renewable energy; Water reuse and alternative water sources (e.g., desalination); Water and energy monitoring; Impacts of integrated approaches to climate adaptation and mitigation goals
    • Develop knowledge | elaborate studies, surveys, and guidelines regarding water-energy efficient policies/products/services and to identify bottlenecks, barriers, and success factors, aiming at supporting policy instruments, national authorities, and the European Commission
    • Foster opportunities | Joint projects on combined water and energy efficiency, boosting green growth, eco-innovation, and green jobs
    • Create a community | promote dissemination of results and conclusions and involve the community, academia and stakeholders in the implementation processes that can result from the working group.

    Expected Impact

    Addressing water and energy together, and their interconnections within the water-energy nexus, is a key driver to attain SDG, as it leads to enhanced impact of combined water and energy savings versus isolated approaches.
    Current separated approaches are hindering public policies, instruments, and practices from fully seizing their role and needed impact to accelerate SDG implementation, particularly Goals 6, 7 and 13, where the WEN working group can direct and actively contribute.
    Alongside Europe and European Member States bold ambitions towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, the new Sustainable Finance Strategy and the EU Taxonomy are in place to accelerate investments in decarbonization.
    However, even though water is recognized as a key driver to decarbonize Europe’s energy production and use (JRC, 2019), water efficiency and new water sources lag behind and are usually set aside from energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate action policies, goals and investments. The time is now to seize water-energy nexus opportunities alongside the needed investments for EU’s climate-neutral ambition and for EU’s transition to a more sustainable financing framework, where sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources are one of the six environmental objectives to be fulfilled under the EU Taxonomy.

    The new EnR Water-Energy Nexus Working-group (EnR WEN WG) thus focus its approach on water as a key energy efficiency driver, a critical resource for renewable energy, and a vital part of the energy transition and climate action.

    Main actions and outcomes aimed by EnR WEN WG Work Plan 2023-2025 include:
    I. Cooperation and advocacy for WEN in energy and water policies&instruments, contributing to SDG targets 6.4., 6.5. and 13.2, through:
    • Intertwined task forces with other EnR WG (eg. Labelling&Ecodesing, Buildings, Industry&Enterprises) to introduce water efficiency and WEN indicators in European Energy performance of buildings directive, national Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), Long term renovation strategies, National Building Renovation Plans, EPBD, EU Industrial Strategy, Recovery and Resilience Facility and national Plans, Multiannual Financial Framework 2021–2027 and NextGenerationEU
    • Cooperation on WEN building certification schemes in other EnR countries and related green jobs and green skills (using innovative Portuguese water efficiency standard and rating scheme AQUA+, with trial pilots in other EU countries, in close contact with international examples in the US and Australia)
    II. Data and monitoring, contributing particularly to SDG target 13.3., through:
    • Quantification and proposal of common global indicators, data and infographics on water efficiency and water-energy nexus
    • Observatory on water efficiency and WEN baseline and advances, starting off with Labelling, Smart Financing and Incentives, and Green Jobs
    III. Dissemination, contributing to SDG targets 7.a., 13.2., and 13.3., through:
    • Dissemination of results and conclusions, engaging community, academia and stakeholders in the implementation processes resulting from the working group activities and findings
    IV. EnR studies on new EnR topics relevant to WEN, contributing to SDG targets 6.4., 6.5., 7.a., 13.1, 13.2., and 13.3., addressing:
    • Energy for Water and Water for Energy common indicators, challenges and unexplored opportunities, fostering renewable water and energy sources under an integrated nexus approach.


    The WEN WG members can include European Energy Agencies, members of EnR, and other interested parties from public and private bodies committed to energy, water and resource efficiency.
    Proposal for WEN WG Chair and founding members include Agencies that already participated in the EnR’22 WEN Task Force (listed under “Partners”), with invitations to be sent to Agencies within EnR’22 WEN studies Steering Committees, and all other EnR agencies, as well as other interested parties and relevant stakeholders (listed under “Other beneficiaries”).
    Founding Partners:
    • ADENE, Portuguese Energy Agency
    • ADEME, French Agency for Ecological Transition
    • CRES, Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving
    • EIHP, Energy Institute Hrvoje Pozar
    • ENEA, Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development
    • EST, Energy Saving Trust, United Kingdom
    • EWA, The Energy and Water Agency, Malta
    • Motiva, Sustainable Development Company, Finland
    • RVO, Netherlands Enterprise Agency
    • SIEA, Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency

    Additional information

    EnR is a voluntary network currently numbering 24 European energy agencies from 23 countries, with responsibility for the planning, management or review of national research, development, demonstration, or dissemination programmes in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy and climate change abatement.
    It seeks to strengthen cooperation between member agencies and other European actors on all issues relevant to sustainable energy (energy efficiency, sustainable transport and renewable energy). International comparison and information sharing takes place primarily through eight Working Groups, which are also open to relevant non-member organizations. As well as this exchange of information, EnR Working Groups serve as fora for the conception and implementation of successful common projects within the framework of EU-funded programmes, such as the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme.

    EU’s goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2050 – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GEE), backed by Member states that are increasing their ambitions and anticipating their own roadmaps to net-zero by 2045 (eg. Portugal, Germany) is driving multiple European policies and global funding to target specifically on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
    Although the interdependencies between water and energy are well known and have become a subject of increasing attention for the scientific and policy communities, the development and implementation of water and energy policies remain largely disconnected at EU and Member State levels (JRC, 2019, Water & Energy Nexus in Europe). In this context, EnR provides a first point of contact for national energy agencies in EU Member States towards an integrated approach of these two dimensions.
    EnR dedicates its efforts towards joint activities where its unique character provides added value at both a European and individual Member State level. It provides a channel for pan-European technical support on matters of energy policy, strategy, evaluation, programme design & delivery and marketing communications. Therefore, all the results, recommendations, reports and tools resulting from these working groups always guarantee upscaling and replicability.

    As EnR brings together European Energy Agencies, aiming at promoting sustainable energy best practices, it acts as the ideal fora to address and deepen new topics with relevance and impact on these Agencies role towards SDG, as is the case of the water-energy nexus.
    The work plan and objectives of the new EnR Working Group on the Water-Energy Nexus will provide significant contribution, and at a very relevant scale, to the global water challenges and objectives of the Water Action Agenda, Water Action Decade and Climate Action Agenda.

    Goal 6

    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

    Goal 6


    By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all


    Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services


    By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations


    Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water


    By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally


    Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated


    Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality


    By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

    Change in water-use efficiency over time


    Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources


    By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate


    Degree of integrated water resources management 


    Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation


    By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

    Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time


    By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

    Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan


    Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management


    Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management

    Goal 7

    Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

    Goal 7


    By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services


    Proportion of population with access to electricity


    Proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology


    By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix

    Renewable energy share in the total final energy consumption


    By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency

    Energy intensity measured in terms of primary energy and GDP


    By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology

    International financial flows to developing countries in support of clean energy research and development and renewable energy production, including in hybrid systems


    By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and land-locked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support


    Installed renewable energy-generating capacity in developing and developed countries (in watts per capita)

    Goal 13

    Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

    Goal 13


    Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries


    Number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population


    Number of countries that adopt and implement national disaster risk reduction strategies in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030


    Proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies


    Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning


    Number of countries with nationally determined contributions, long-term strategies, national adaptation plans and adaptation communications, as reported to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


    Total greenhouse gas emissions per year


    Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning


    Extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development are mainstreamed in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education; and (d) student assessment


    Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible


    Amounts provided and mobilized in United States dollars per year in relation to the continued existing collective mobilization goal of the $100 billion commitment through to 2025


    Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities



    Number of least developed countries and small island developing States with nationally determined contributions, long-term strategies, national adaptation plans and adaptation communications, as reported to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

    Name Description
    Launch of EnR Working Group on Water-Energy Nexus
    Creation of 1st intertwined task force to introduce Water Efficiency and Water-Energy Nexus (WEN) objectives and indicators in European Energy policies, instruments and financing mechanisms (all intertwined task forces to be created until February 2025)
    1st Data and common indicators input to WEN Observatory on Water Efficiency and Water-Energy Nexus baseline and progress (including, eg., on Labelling, Green Jobs, Smart Financing and Incentives)
    Working group final report with EnR studies on Water for Energy and Energy for Water, recommendations and guidelines, including next steps for EnR WEN WG Work Plan 2025-2027
    Staff / Technical expertise
    Technical expertise shared through a diverse network from several National Energy Agencies in Europe
    No progress reports have been submitted. Please sign in and click here to submit one.
    Action Network
    water logo
    28 March 2023 (start date)
    31 March 2026 (date of completion)
    ADENE – Portuguese Energy Agency on behalf of EnR – European Energy Network
    1. Europe
    Other beneficiaries

    All other EnR European Energy Agencies:
    • AEA, Austrian Energy Agency
    • SEDA, Sustainable Energy Development Agency, Bulgaria
    • DEA, Danish Energy Authority, Denmark
    • Motiva, Sustainable Development Company, Finland
    • dena, German Energy Agency, Germany
    • PtJ, Project Management Jülich, Germany
    • HEA, Hungarian Energy and Public Utility Regulatory Authority, Hungary
    • SEAI, The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Ireland
    • LEA, Lithuanian Energy Agency, Lithuania
    • Klima-Agence, Luxembourg
    • Enova, Norway
    • KAPE, The Polish National Energy Conservation Agency, Poland
    • IDAE, Institute for Diversification and Saving of Energy, Spain
    • SEA, Swedish Energy Agency, Sweden
    • SwissEnergy, Switzerland
    Other interested parties from public and private bodies, organizations, networks, and partnerships thorough Europe, committed to energy, water, and other resource efficiency, including the ones responsible for fostering research & development and technology deployment.

    More information
    Ibero-American Network of Life Cycle Assesment
    Contact Information

    Nelson, President of the Board of ADENE – Portuguese Energy Agency and President of EnR – European Energy Network