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The recent Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit held in Abu Dhabi laid out an action plan for Gulf countries to combat water scarcity and diversify energy resource.
The 31st GCC summit resulted in the Abu Dhabi Declaration which urged the authorities concerned in the GCC nations to set up a comprehensive long-term strategy to tackle urgent issues of water resources. The strategy will need to be submitted before the Supreme Council for approval and the unified strategy on water must be implemented throughout the bloc, the declaration said.
The declaration acknowledged the growing need for water to achieve social and economic development objectives in the Gulf countries. Abdul Rahman Hamad Al Attiyah, outgoing secretary general of the GCC, who announced the declaration said; “The strategy should examine the impact of global climate changes on local water resources in the region and look into ways to adopt with the negative factors.”
The consumption of water per capita in the Gulf is one of the highest in the world and the GCC has to adopt a unified policy regarding rationing of water consumption in different fields and strike a balance between expansion in water production and scarcity and the need for water for irrigation purposes.
The strategy should measure possible impacts of water desalination on quality of sea water and provide proper storage for water, and linking between energy resources and food security.
Oil and gas resources in the Gulf are not enough to cater to the growing needs for water in the region and there is an urgent need to diversify energy sources.· The declaration called for improving quality of underground water, backing research and development in renewable energy and water production domains.
The GCC leaders said it was important to have legislations and laws to boost energy and water production, and to educate the public to cut water consumption, approving new specifications to boost efficiency of energy consumption of air conditions and house appliances.
The declaration called on the GCC to set up research centres for energy development and desalination of water and diversification of production of non-fossil energy. Encouraging inventions and use of new technology must also be part of the rationing strategy in the region.