WSTA Gulf Water Conference

WSTA Gulf Water Conference

Despite the ​scarcity of ​water resources ​in the region, ​the GCC ​countries have ​done well in ​providing water ​for their ever-​increasing ​population and ​rapidly ​expanding ​economic base ​and activities. ​However, the ​GCC countries ​are at a ​critical ​juncture with ​regard to ​managing their ​water and ​financial ​resources in a ​sustainable ​manner and ​securing the ​balanced socio-​economic ​development and ​environmental ​conditions for ​today’s ​and future ​generations ​without ​overburdening ​the natural ​resource base ​and the ​environment. ​

Being an ​important ​factor for the ​GCC socio-​economic ​development, ​there is a need ​for an ​efficient and ​sustainable ​water ​management to ​ensure that the ​water sector ​can continue to ​serve the ​region's ​development ​needs. However, ​currently the ​GCC countries ​are facing ​several major ​challenges in ​managing the ​water sector ​and ensuring ​its sustainability ​and security ​for the future. ​These ​challenges are ​manifested by ​many factors, ​including ​increasing ​water scarcity, ​increasing ​costs for ​infrastructure ​and service ​delivery, ​resources ​deterioration, ​increasing ​environmental ​and economic ​externalities ​of the water ​sector, and ​many others. ​The main ​driving forces ​of these ​challenges are ​population ​growth and ​changing ​consumption ​patterns (end-​use efficiency),​ as well as low ​supply ​efficiencies, ​lower rates of ​water reuse and ​recycling, and ​low energy ​efficiency in ​the water ​sector. The ​intensity of ​these ​challenges is ​expected to ​increase with ​time due to ​additional ​driving forces, ​the most ​important of ​which is ​climate change. ​Climate change ​is expected to ​add another ​pressure on ​water demands ​and infrastructure ​in the various ​consuming ​sectors, ​specially ​municipal and ​agricultural. ​

The ​persistence of ​these ​challenges and ​problems can be ​attributed to ​the dominance ​of sectoral ​approaches ​adopted in the ​management of ​water resources.​ In the last ​two decades, ​formulated and ​implemented ​water ​strategies, or ​rather ​primarily ​technical ​master plans, ​in the GCC have ​been mainly ​sectoral, with ​little ​integrated and ​coordinated ​planning ​between the ​various water ​sub-sectors; e.​g., municipal ​water supply, ​wastewater ​treatment, and ​water use in ​agricultural or ​industries (​including ​energy ​production, ​petroleum, and ​natural gas). ​Moreover, water ​master plans ​and strategies ​often missed ​the coordination ​and integration ​with the other ​water-related ​sectors, ​especially the ​energy, ​agricultural/​food, ​industries, and ​environment ​sectors. ​

Fortunately, ​the GCC ​countries have ​recently ​realized that ​water ​sustainability ​will require ​integrated ​strategic ​planning and ​management, ​which is ​manifested in ​the Abu Dhabi ​2010 declaration ​by the 31st ​summit of the ​Supreme Council ​of the GCC, ​which ​recommended ​that "… ​serious and ​speedy steps ​should be taken ​and endorsed by ​the GCC Supreme ​Council towards ​a long-term ​comprehensive ​Gulf water ​strategy". The ​Declaration ​stressed the ​importance of ​linking between ​guaranteeing ​water security ​and diversification ​of energy and ​food security ​as vital ​prerequisite ​and key ​strategic ​priority for ​the future of ​the GCC states. ​Moreover, it ​recognized that ​the GCC ​countries are ​home of more ​than 50% of the ​world's ​desalinated ​water to meet ​demand of ​population for ​development, ​and acknowledged ​that need of ​desalination ​for huge ​sources of ​energy. The ​Declaration ​called on that ​the strategy to ​consider all ​relevant issues,​ the most ​important of ​these are the ​possible impact ​of climate ​change on water ​resources, ​rationalization ​of water ​consumption in ​different ​development ​sectors, ​strategic water ​supply reserves,​ unsustainable ​use of ​groundwater, ​reciprocal ​relation ​between the ​agriculture and ​water sectors, ​and potential ​impacts of ​desalination on ​the quality of ​sea water and ​living ​creatures and ​on climate ​change. ​

The ​recommendations ​of the Supreme ​Council for a ​long-term ​comprehensive ​Gulf water ​strategy has ​been pursued by ​the GCC ​Secretariat ​General (SG). ​In early 2016, ​the SG has ​finalized the "​Unified Water ​Sector Strategy ​and Implementation ​Plan for the ​Gulf Cooperation ​Council of Arab ​Members States ​2015-2035”​ (The GCC ​Unified Water ​Strategy), ​which is looked ​at as a ​landmark by the ​GCC countries ​towards ​achieving water ​sector ​sustainability. ​The GCC Unified ​Water Strategy ​will need to be ​translated for ​implementation ​at the GCC ​countries ​levels. ​

Through ​addressing the ​topic of ​sustainable ​water ​management in ​the GCC ​countries, the ​WSTA Twelve ​Gulf Water ​Conference ​focuses on the ​formulation of ​integrated, ​comprehensive ​water ​strategies. ​Moreover, the ​conference will ​address the ​many relevant ​approaches and ​instruments ​used in the ​various water-​consuming ​sectors for ​enhancing the ​level of ​security and ​sustainability ​of the water ​sector. The ​conference will ​present and ​share the ​experiences and ​best practices ​from different ​countries in ​improving water ​sustainability ​and overcoming ​the water ​challenges in ​the arid GCC ​and Arab ​countries. ​