By RTCC Staff
Water’s significance to the Middle East has been underlined with the announcement that an International Water Summit will be held in Abu Dhabi next year.
The summit will be held alongside the World Future Energy Summit in 2013, in association with the International Water Association (IWA).
Speaking at a press conference, Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, United Arab Emirates Minister of Environment and Water said the new initiative was a response to the growing importance the UAE government gives to water.
“Sheikh Mohammad [Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi] underlined in a lecture last month that water is much more important than oil for the UAE and its people,” he said.
“As a result of the increased pressure on this valuable resource due to various factors including overpopulation, agricultural and economic growth, and unsustainable consumption patterns, various countries around the world are currently facing real problems with water resources.”
“Climate change has increased the pressure on this resource as well,” added Bin Fahd.
Water scarcity – both in terms of clean drinking water and that used for agricultural irrigation – are already putting pressure on many countries, including those in the Middle East.
Hydro-climatic hazards such as droughts and floods are likely to further exacerbate the problem and could put more pressure on existing social tensions in the region.
This announcement comes the same week as a European Commission event entitled ‘Climate change and water security in the Middle East’ looks to address these problems.
In 2011 a study from risk analysts Maplecroft found much of the Gulf and North Africa ranking high or extreme for water stress, compared to much of Europe where water stress is low.
Many commentators are already predicting that water resources will be the next big issue in these regions which have already experienced political and social unrest over the last year.