Expo 2020 Dubai
Expo 2020 Dubai hosted the inaugural edition of the Water-Food-Energy Summit Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: The UAE, Jordan, and the Netherlands on Wednesday issued a trilateral declaration affirming their commitment to supporting an interconnected approach to optimal use of water, food, and energy resources.

The three countries also called on other governments “to incorporate practical solutions to water, food, and energy challenges into policy-making, and accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

The joint statement was made at the final day of the inaugural edition of the Water-Food-Energy (WFE) Summit, held over two days as part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Goals Week, the first-of-its-kind trilateral event aimed at advancing innovation to tackle some of the greatest challenges in water, food and energy.

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment; Mohammad Al Najjar, Minister of Water and Irrigation of Jordan, and Liesje Schreinemacher, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, led the summit which drew the participation of high-level government officials, leaders from the private sector, members of the academic and scientific community, and youth delegates.

Immense pressure

Almheiri said: “As we move towards a global population of 10 billion in 2050, current ecosystems face immense pressure to meet the growing demand for water, food, and energy without putting further strain on our natural resources. We are aware that in the next nine years, the world must achieve the UN SDGs, and that this requires us to redouble our efforts given the inadequate progress so far and the aggravating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Schreinemacher said: “Around the world, we face enormous challenges when it comes to water, energy, and food: rising water levels, or not having enough water, extreme weather due to climate change, and food scarcity. These issues affect all countries, so we must look for solutions together. This cooperation between the Netherlands, the UAE, and Jordan is a good example of how all parties can benefit from working together.”

The Dutch minister added: “The UAE and Jordan are facing water scarcity and are looking for smart solutions to this problem. That is an area of expertise the Netherlands and Dutch companies are known for. For example, our three countries are working on a database that keeps track of how much water is needed to provide people with drinking water, and how to grow vegetables now and in even more extreme weather conditions. The interaction between the business community, knowledge institutions, and governments is essential in tackling these global challenges.”

Collective understanding

Dr Saleh Al-Kharabsheh, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources of Jordan, noted: “In the coming decades, the world will need increasing amounts of resources. Population growth, resource-intensive lifestyles, and the damaging effects of climate change will lead to water, energy, and food insecurity across the globe. I very much welcome this summit, whose co-curators aim to increase the collective understanding of the interdependent relationships between water, energy, and food security.”

The summit also recognised the important role of youth leaders in designing policies to achieve the SDGs and the Paris Agreement goals, and acknowledged their substantive contribution to accelerating action.

The event’s youth activities included a townhall session and a discussion on creative ways to call for action on innovative solutions for water, food, and energy security, led by AY Young, singer-songwriter and UN Young Leader. Young people were also challenged to develop models with realistic environmental simulations, where long-term impacts of policies can be tested and rated.