The UAE concluded its participation in the 7th World Water Forum alongside 30,000 international government leaders, industry experts and policy makers. The Forum, held in the Republic of Korea from April 12th to the 17th, focused on addressing the increasing global water security challenge.
The high-level UAE delegation, led by His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, played an important role in identifying and advancing solutions aimed at ensuring a sustainable water future.
His Excellency Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar, delivered a keynote speech during the World Water Forum’s opening ceremony urging nations to unite and act in ensuring global water security.
Dr Al Jaber remarked: “Over the next decade, two thirds of the world’s population could face water shortages. Tackling water security is a global challenge that will require a global response. The UAE is ready to work with you to address our shared responsibility, to exchange ideas, drive commercial solutions and forge a pathway toward global water security.
“Over the next 15 years, the UAE’s demand for water is estimated to double; however our leadership is responding with calculated and strategic actions that place resource security on-top of our country’s economic development agenda. These actions will ensure that all of our country’s water resources are sustainably managed.”
Throughout the Forum, the high-level UAE delegation shared the country’s various strategies and policies aimed at improving water conservation, production and consumption. HE Dr Rashid Bin Fahad, UAE Minister for Environment and Water, outlined the how the country intends to reduce its water consumption by 30 per cent by 2030 through the ‘Green Growth Strategy,’ a federal framework for economic growth and social development through sustainable initiatives.
The delegation also shared the UAE’s commitment to advance and adopt innovative technological solutions to enhance the availability of potable water, such as renewable energy powered desalination and advanced hydroponics techniques. The delegation also highlighted STEP, Abu Dhabi’s Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Programme, which when completed in 2016, will be one of the largest gravity-driven hydraulic wastewater network tunnels in the world.
The UAE played an important role in shaping the Forum’s Ministerial Process, a day dedicated to Ministerial roundtables, panels and discussions. Held on 13 April in Gyeongbuk, the UAE delegation participated in three roundtable discussions alongside the global community to devise collective solutions for water scarcity. HE Dr Rashid Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, discussed the UAE’s progress in integrated water resource management, highlighting investments in water conservation technology, enhanced regulation of groundwater extraction, and advanced irrigation technology underscored by the Ministry’s water conservation strategy.
The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy, HE Dr Matar Hamed Al Neiady elaborated on the UAE’s approach to addressing the inherent linkages amongst water, energy and food production and transportation.
HE Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Permanent Representative of the UAE to IRENA and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directorate of Energy and Climate Change, also contributed to the Ministerial discussions by sharing historical examples of water management in the UAE as well as key educational and capacity building initiatives currently undertaken by various UAE entities in relation to water.
On the side-lines of the Forum, the UAE delegation held a series of sessions entitled ‘The United Arab Emirates – Innovating to Advance Water Security.’ The sessions, attended by the Forum guests and media, offered an in-depth view of various UAE innovative initiatives promoting water security.
Ms Alya Al Mazroui of the National Centre of Meteorology & Seismology presented the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science. The initiative is a first of its kind grant programme that promotes research and development to enhance rainfall yields and in turn, freshwater supplies. Ms Mazroui explained that the programme, which offers a grant of US $5 million dollars over a three-year period to be shared by up to five winning research proposals locally and internationally, is a platform for innovation, driving the development of techniques to improve the efficiency and predictive capabilities of targeted cloud seeding operations.
Mr Mohammad El Ramahi of Masdar shared the company’s innovative solution to decrease costs and the environmental impact of desalination, Masdar’s renewable energy powered desalination pilot programme. The pilot project, launched in January 2013 and currently under construction in Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, will aim to identify industrial-scale and commercially viable desalination technologies to address sustainable access to water. Masdar’s technology partners for the pilot include Abengoa Water, Suez Environment, SIDEM/Veolia and Tevi Systems, an innovative California-based start-up.
Dr Taha Ouarda of Masdar Institute discussed adaptation to climate variability and change for the sustainable management of water resources. Dr Taha elaborated on how shifting environmental conditions warrant new modelling methods for sustainable management.
Dr Al Jaber, commenting on the UAE’s participation in the Forum said: “The UAE is dedicated to developing transformative solutions to address the global water challenge. Our participation in the Forum underscores our unwavering commitment, as global citizens, to drive commercial solutions and to collectively forge a pathway toward global water security.”
The UAE delegation to the 7th World Water Forum, organised by Masdar, included representatives from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Environment & Water, Federal Electricity & Water Authority, Executive Affairs Authority, National Centre of Meteorology & Seismology, Masdar Institute of Science & Technology, Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi, Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority, Abu Dhabi Sewerage Services Company, Regulation and Supervision Bureau, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, and the United Arab Emirates University.