Perhaps water is the most serious global problem facing humanity. It is a matter of life or death not only for mankind but for all species on earth. Thus, water issues have attained global significance and that calls for more than unilateral action.
It is no longer effective to work in isolation on water problems; sharing knowledge on water technology, innovation, management and practices is probably the first step towards a holistic and sustainable solution.
In fact, water is a unique resource as water volumes are not fixed at all. Quite to the contrary, water resources are a flexible and expandable.
Innovative technologies and pioneering management techniques along with environment friendly traditional knowledge and practices such as the aflaj (water canals system) in countries like UAE, Oman and Morocco allow the same water resource to be used in a multiple ways by multiple users several times.
Innovative solution to solve water problems especially scarcity and quality is a prerequisite to achieve sustainable development. This is very true as the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) no. 6 on water: “ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030” is a cross cutting with all other 17th SDGs. It is clear that there are strong interlinkages between water and ecosystems, food, climate change, energy systems … etc.
In this regard, water governance is the back bone of sustainable water management and there are a number of tools for better water governance such as legislations, incentives, disincentive, educational and technological ones. In all cases, there is a need for “a policy mix” to achieve better water governance.
UAE is one of the pioneer countries to apply policy mix tools in water governance not only at local and national levels but also at global level.
The UAE is promoting the adoption of innovative technologies to reduce water consumption, to minimise waste and to protect the environment.
In this regard, UAE is playing a global role in incentivising sustainable and innovative solutions for water scarcity via the launch of the third Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award.
This biennial Award besides raising awareness and spreading the knowledge on water innovation, it also encourages leading corporations, research centres, institutions, the youth and researchers from across the globe to compete in finding sustainable and innovative solutions to the problem of water scarcity.
In this recently launched $1 million third round of the award, Suqia has upscaled the award to include new technologies to produce, distribute, store, monitor, desalinate and purify water using renewable energy.
Upscaling the award is a result of the unlimited support by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Suqia’s commitment to achieve His Highness’ vision to provide drinking water for people in need, especially the afflicted and underprivileged around the world; regardless of religion, ethnicity, culture, or nationality.
Water is a basic human right and the UN General Assembly has adopted Resolution No 64/292 of the human right to water and sanitation. The text of the resolution emphasised the importance of everyone getting equal access to safe and pure drinking water and sanitation as an integral part of the realisation of all human rights.
Besides, the award have a vital role for the gulf region as it can help to bring water technologies and new management methods to our Gulf region that are desperate for fresh water resources.
Another important aspect is this award is that, it encourages youth. We all know that young people can play an active role in innovation and improving water qualities. They have a strong motive to protect water and environment for their sustainable future. Beside, this helps to inspire other young people to take action and work hard to innovate in water field.
It is man’s responsibility to protect and upgrade ecosystems and its water resources in order to improve quality of life and realise sustainable development. The Suqia Award affirms the UAE’s role as a platform that encourages innovation, a destination for innovators and an incubator for creative minds from around the world in water field.
(Note: All companies, research centres and institutes, innovators and youths from all over the world who have innovative technologies that can provide solutions to water scarcity can register to the Award’s third cycle until April 30, 2021)
Dr Mohammed Abdel Raouf is an independent environment researcher.