The UAE Minister of Environment and Water, His Excellency Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, and Dr. Glen Daigger, President of the International Water Association (IWA) held a press conference at the World Future Energy Summit, on January 18, to make the announcement.
Also attending the press conference was Abdullah Said Al Nuaimi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), and HE Razan Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.
His Excellency the Minister of Environment said: “As a result of the increased pressure on this valuable resource due to various factors including over population, agricultural and economic growth and the unsustainable consumption patterns, various countries around the world are currently facing real problems with water resources. Moreover, climate change has increased the pressure on this resource as well. Therefore, this launch – as a result of our visionary leadership’s drive towards achieving water security – helmed by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates - will shed a real light on the subject.
Dr Sultan Ahmed al Jaber said: The launch of the International Water Summit, by His Highness reflects the important role the UAE is playing in supporting the international efforts in answering the pressing challenges facing the world today - is a testament to the UAE’s role in shedding light on today’s relevant subjects and a clear testimony to thought leadership.”
Dr. Al Jaber added: “His Highness recently said water is more important than oil in the United Arab Emirates. This is a a bold and clear signal – that an economy based on oil – is placing water at the topmost of its agenda; adding that His Highness also made a clear call to action: that we need to enhance and increase the studies and research necessary, create strategic action plans, and find solutions to preserving this invaluable resource for future generations.
Dr Al Jaber added that His Highness had launch of the International Water Summit based on a well calculated long term strategy. He emphasized on the interconnection between energy and water – highlighting that more than 70% of overall water production and processing cost results from the energy required to desalinate, transport, store, forward and distribute water – as opposed to the energy required to desalinate water in countries that are depleted of fresh water, such as the Arab region.
Dr Sultan noted that In 2006, the leadership of Abu Dhabi mandated the establishment of Masdar– incepted to maintain the UAE’s energy leadership, and safeguard and ensure the longevity of its natural resources; elaborating that Masdar is a key component of diversify the energy mix of Abu Dhabi.
“Masdar was established to accelerate, diversify and deploy renewable energy and clean technologies towards achieving sustainability,” he said.
“And in 2008, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan launched the World Future Energy Summit –hosted by Masdar, annually in Abu Dhabi.”
“Over the past 5 years,” he added, “the World Future Energy Summit has been providing the world with a platform that brings together world leaders, thought leaders and experts from around the globe – enhancing and catalyzing the efforts to meet world challenges, including energy security.”
“With the clear link between energy and water - alongside the success of the World Future Energy Summit and the continued progress of Masdar – the UAE leadership saw fit to create a platform for engagement dedicated solely to water and addressing its scarcity,” he added.
In his remarks, Dr Glen Daigger, President of the IWA said: “I would like to congratulate His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed for taking such a leading step in one of the world’s most pressing issues - coping with aridity. Through Masdar, WFES and other initiatives in Abu Dhabi we have grown accustomed to seeing this young nation take leading steps to address world challenges.”
IWA is the global network of water professionals, working every day to provide water and sanitation services which create healthy living conditions, fuel the economy, protect the environment, and enhance the living conditions for the citizens of planet earth.
Highlighting the importance of the IWA’s involvement with the International Water Summit, he added: “this forum provides the opportunity for leading water professionals to share their knowledge and experience with each other, thereby advancing our ability to serve the public and the planet as rapidly as possible.”
The first International Water Summit will take place alongside the 6th World Future Energy Summit in January 2013.