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UAE’s H.E. Mariam Almheiri highlights innovation as the key solution to water scarcity

The UAE's Minister of Climate Change and Environment emphasized the importance of responsible water management.

UAE’s H.E. Mariam Almheiri highlights innovation as the key solution to water scarcity
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

HE Mariam Almheiri, the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, made a deep commitment to responsible water management and tackling water scarcity through a three-pronged approach of diversification, conservation, and innovation. Speaking at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York, which coincided with World Water Day, H.E. Almheiri emphasized the UAE’s dedication to ensuring sustainable and efficient water usage nationwide.

The minister emphasized the need for improved solutions, stating that innovation is paramount in addressing the challenges posed by water and capitalizing on the opportunities it presents.

She added, “Agriculture accounts for 70% of all freshwater withdrawal globally. If we are to shift to a more sustainable pathway, innovation and efficiency will be inevitable.”

The UAE has been making significant strides to address water scarcity. In 2017, the Ministry of Energy unveiled the Water Security Strategy 2036, which seeks to ensure sustainable access to water and addresses issues in the water supply chain. The country aims to reduce potable water consumption by 20% and increase the use of treated water to 95%.

“Responsible water management is an important issue to the United Arab Emirates. This is a must for a country with an average rainfall ten times lower than the global average, limited freshwater resources and a growing population and economy,” Almheiri said.

Additionally, the country is actively constructing energy-efficient desalination plants that utilize reverse osmosis – a low-energy method that deploys membrane technology to purify water. The UAE promotes retrofit initiatives, water tariff reform, and public awareness campaigns to curtail water losses and consumption.

In 2021, the UAE and the United States jointly initiated the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate to promote climate-smart agriculture and innovation in food systems. The partners have already secured $8 billion in funding for investments in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovations.

The minister also highlighted the UAE’s commitment to sharing its water conservation expertise with countries facing water scarcity.

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