Abu Dhabi: Four billion people will face a significant water shortage within the next two decades, said an expert at the Festival of Thinkers.
While addressing more than 200 Emirati female students at the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) yesterday, Lynn Dugle, President of Raytheon's Intelligence and Information Systems Business, said the number of people sharing this earth is forecast to increase from seven billion to eight billion in 2025 and nine billion in 2050.
"The global population growth is straining economic and social systems, and putting unprecedented pressures on the allocation of already scarce natural resources, from water and food to energy supplies and oil," Dugle said.
The addition of 2.4 billion people to the global population will see food requirements grow and will create a significant water shortage.
The Festival of Thinkers conference started yesterday. The event is organised by the HCT in Abu Dhabi to provide an opportunity for the Middle East's scholars — as future leaders — to interact and learn from Nobel Laureates. The philosophy of this biennial event is to energise promising youth of the region to inspire, innovate and invent, said the organisers.
Some 350 international graduate students from 83 universities and representing 40 nations have been hand-picked to join their Emirati counterparts. When asked about what the UAE should do to solve water and energy issues, Dugle told Gulf News the two most important investments the UAE, or any country, can make to solve national challenges are in its human capital and in technology solutions. Important issues such as the availability of natural resources can only be solved by the greatest minds of a nation. Dugle believes the investment of the UAE in the education of women will contribute to ensure full participation in solving critical issues and challenges.
"Even relatively wealthy nations such as the UAE face an ‘extreme risk' of water shortages, which led the Emirates to establish the Arab Water Academy," she added.