Blog Post

Supporting Global Sustainable Development Goals,

EPCOR Endows Water Security Chair at UN University

Based in Hamilton, ‘EPCOR Water Security Research Chair at UN University’
accepted by renowned Alberta expert Robert Sandford

Human security hinges on linked approach
to water / energy management: new UN University report


Edmonton-based EPCOR Utilities Inc., a provider of water and electricity services to over a million North Americans, will endow research by the United Nations University (UNU) to define how people around the world can better manage water for our future.

Renowned water expert Robert Sandford of Canmore, Alberta will lead a four-year effort in his new post, “EPCOR Water Security Research Chair at UNU”, based at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), which is hosted by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and supported by the Government of Canada.

The March 10 announcement in Hamilton coincides with the launch of a new UNU-INWEH report detailing “inextricable linkages” between water and energy and underlining the need to place those twin resources “at the heart” of sustainable development policy-making.

Energy production places extraordinary demands on freshwater supplies, constituting 15% world water use (second only to agriculture at 70%), the report says, while large amounts of energy are needed to draw, clean and deliver water to homes, industry and farm fields, underpinning therefore virtually every aspect of human commerce and well-being.

In the next two decades, world energy consumption is forecast to rise 35%, requiring an 85% increase in the sector’s water demand, further straining already stretched supplies of life’s most essential resource.

Says Mr. Sandford: “My goal as EPCOR Water Security Research Chair at UNU is to translate the widest range of scientific research on water security into language the public can readily understand and that both public and private sector decision-makers can use to craft timely and durable policy.”

UNU-INWEH welcomes Sandford’s formal association with the institute in Hamilton, says Director Zafar Adeel.

“As a company, EPCOR manifests the connection between water and energy and symbolizes the need for a perspective that sees these resources as the two sides of a single coin,” said Adeel. “At stake in this multi-faceted research are problems that threaten the security of billions of people.”

Vincent Corkery, EPCOR Director of Municipal Operations, says communities, governments and businesses must manager water responsibly in the face of growing challenges.

“Water is crucial to our future,” says Corkery. “Working together, we can develop the right strategies to protect this resource.”


EPCOR Water Security Research Chair at UNU

Robert Sandford’s work as the EPCOR Water Security Research Chair at UNU will advance highly practical and substantive ways for achieving water security, identifying and advocating the most potent means by which both the public and private sectors worldwide can contribute.

And he brings a wealth of expertise to the role, developed through extensive domestic as well as UN and other global experience, serving as the EPCOR Chair of the Canadian Partnership Initiative in support of the UN Water for Life Decade.
A widely-published author, Sandford was also engaged as an expert advisor on water issues to the Interaction Council, a global public policy advocacy forum of more than 30 former heads of state and heads of government, including former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and former Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Brundtland.

In addition to his noted international work, Sandford is an associate of both the Centre for Hydrology and the Global Water Institute at the University of Saskatchewan; a Fellow of the Biogeoscience Institute at the University of Calgary; a Member of the Advisory Board of Living Lakes Canada; a Member of the Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW); and Water Governance Adviser and Senior Policy Author, Simon Fraser University’s Adaptation to Climate Change Team.

He has published several high-profile books on water including Cold Matters: The State & Fate of Canada’s Snow and Ice (2012), Saving Lake Winnipeg (2013), and Flood Forecast, co-authored with Kerry Freek last year.

In 2013, Alberta Ventures magazine recognized Sandford as one of the province’s 50 most influential citizens.


Putting Water & Energy at the Heart of Sustainable Development

The new UNU-INWEH report, Putting Water and Energy at the Heart of Sustainable Development, appeals for the adoption of a parallel approach to setting national water and energy policies. It describes the disconnects, disparities and incoherences between the sectors today, cites exemplary approaches and emerging technologies for managing the water-energy nexus effectively, and calls for the integration of water-energy concerns in the world’s post-2015 development agenda.

Selected excerpts

Asymmetry with respect to the size and scale of the water and energy sectors varies from region to region. Globally, however, the energy sector is currently worth $6 trillion per year, “several orders of magnitude greater than that of the water sector, which is worth somewhere in the vicinity of $360 billion. As a result, the energy sector has greater leverage for investment and innovation.”

“These asymmetries compound the current entrenched independence of the two sectors, as well as the lack of communication and information sharing.”

Policy disconnects: “Despite obvious synergies and opportunities for economies of scale, the water and energy sectors are typically in competition for capital investments and development resources.”


Download the report

Download (PDF, 4.45MB)

For more information, contact:

Terry Collins:

Tim LeRiche: