“Addressing climate change is key to a healthy recovery and to building a sustainable future,” said His Excellency Eng. Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE), in his keynote address at the opening of the ADSW Summit 2021, asserting that “the economy of the future is a green economy and the society of the future is a green society.”

Taking place in the UAE capital from January 18-21, 2021, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2021 consists of a series of high-level virtual events, bringing together experts and leaders to define new pathways for delivering a green recovery in a post-COVID-19 world. ADSW Summit, meanwhile, is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.


“Today, as we rebuild our world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognise more than ever the need to decarbonise our infrastructures, to promote sustainable consumption and production of essential resources, and to enhance our resilience to climate change,” H.E. Al Marar noted.


The keynote speech focused particularly on how to make water more sustainable. The DoE Chairman cited two main reasons for selecting the topic: “Firstly, because of the opportunities that efficient water production and a decarbonised water infrastructure can offer to mitigate climate change risks to water availability, quality, and quantity; and secondly, because of the water-food-energy nexus and how the integration of these three sectors can improve security and support a green economic transition, making water a national priority.”


“According to the 2020 UN World Water Development Report, global water use has increased six-fold over the past century and global water demand is rising by about 1% every year, with this trend expected to continue until 2050. Over two billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress, and about four billion people experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year,” H.E. explained, adding that climate change will further aggravate the situation.


“By improving water management and water production efficiencies, we can improve resilience to climate change and maximise the provision of a sufficient supply of potable water on a global scale,” he continued.


H.E. Al Marar moved on to focus on the UAE and the GCC, affirming that water scarcity is to be expected due to the geographical and ecological characteristics of the region. “We rely on desalination as the primary source of drinking water and the main alternative for the water resources we need to sustain human life, agricultural activities and industrial processes,” he explained, noting that the UAE is the second-largest producer of desalinated water after Saudi Arabia, producing around 14% of the world’s desalinated water, accounting for nearly all of the UAE’s potable water.


“Here in Abu Dhabi, we have nine desalination plants with a total capacity of up to 960 million imperial gallons per day,” H.E. said. “While we continue to expand our water infrastructure and build new desalination plants, we recognise the environmental impact of desalination and, therefore, we capitalise on continued innovation in desalination technologies, brine reduction techniques, and new water demand management strategies. Four of our current desalination plants in Abu Dhabi utilise Reverse Osmosis technology and represent around 15% of the emirate’s desalinated water production. This share is expected grow to 30% by 2022 when the new AED2bn RO desalination facility at the Al Taweelah Power Complex comes online.”


H.E. Al Marar revealed that “these developments have been supported by government-led initiatives to reduce per capita water usage and rationalise water demand through wastewater re-use, reduction of consumption, minimisation of losses in public supply and improving water use efficiency in the irrigation networks.”


“Water is an international concern and so it requires global attention and collective action. We need to devise local, regional and global strategies to solve water scarcity and minimise climate change impacts on the availability of clean drinking water for all,” the DoE Chairman concluded.


Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week brands itself as a global meeting point for advancing the world’s sustainable development. For over a decade, the emirate has provided a sustainable platform for the global community that has grown through its initiatives and events to emerge as a thought leader and catalyst that accelerates sustainable development around the world. ADSW 2020 welcomed 45,000 attendees from over 170 countries, including the UAE’s leadership, 10 heads of state, 180 international ministers, and over 500 world media representatives.

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