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Water Conference kicks off with hope to help end scarcity through innovation

Water Conference kicks off with hope to help end scarcity through innovation
17 Apr 2024 11:31

KHALED AL KHAWALDEH (ABU DHABI)

The Water Conference kicked off in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday with a pair of keynote speeches from H.E. Ahmed Al Kaabi and H.E. Dr. Saif Saeed Al Qubaisi, setting the tone for what will be a jam-packed three-day event.

As part of the World Future Energy Summit, the conference will bring together companies and governments from around the world to discuss best practice water management, share ideas and pave the way for a more sustainable water industry.

With almost 1.1 billion people worldwide still lacking access to water, and scarcity expected to only increase over the coming decades, the conference occurs at a crucial time, a point that was highlighted by Undersecretary Assistant for Electricity, Water & Future Energy Affairs, Ministry of Energy & Infrastructure, H.E. Ahmed Al Kaabi.

Al Kaabi said the conference would aim to be launching pad for changes across the world. He exemplified the UAE’s Xprize, a part of the Mohammad Bin Zayed Water Initiative, as a way in which the UAE hoped to use its prowess in desalination and survival in water scarce areas to help those in need – and give the best ideas globally a chance to disrupt the sector.

“I am fully confident that innovation we will see and that we will use and discuss will take us closer to collective objective of ensuring access to clean water for everyone,” Al Kaabi said on Tuesday.

“As a part of the UAE’s efforts to strengthen the global water security system, the country has launched the XPrize water scarcity competition, a global competition that aims to ensure innovations are elevated in the world of the water desalination. The outcome is expected to touch the lives of billions of people around the world; ensuring their access to the clean water.”

He was later joined on stage by H.E. Dr. Saif Saeed Al Qubaisi, Director General of Regulatory Affairs at the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, who also touted the UAE’s credentials in the water space and set the tone for what the conference aims to deliver.

“Half of the world’s population could be living in areas facing water scarcity by 2025. It is very relevant to the Middle East, which is dry and devoid of rainfall,” Al Qubaisi told the crowd at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

“Over a decade ago, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, declared that water is more important than oil for the UAE. That’s why in the UAE we have a long history of generating and protecting this precious resource.” 

Al Qubaisi recounted the history of the UAE’s water works, from the first desalination plant in the 1960’s, to the latest water initiatives and enormous plants built ever since.

He said now the UAE was moving fast to up the efficiency of its vast water networks, ensuring water was appropriately recycled and reused.

“The department is working closely with partners across the entire value chain from reduction to use the connection to treatment. Thanks to the sector’s efforts as our capacity rises, our demand is beginning to fall. Currently, we have created annual savings of those 80 million cubic metres of water. We aim to reduce water use by 32% by 2030,” he said.

“Here at the WFES we hope to continue dialogues from 28th COP and collectively find solution to the climate impact in our water resources. We must all recognise climate crisis is also a water crisis.”

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