Dubai: Switzerland hosted, yesterday, an event on “Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Water Use” at the Swiss Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. The event is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that aims to tackle the numerous challenges of the 21st century, among them the sustainable management of water resources.

Water has been a priority of Swiss foreign policy and Switzerland was instrumental in making water a stand-alone goal of the UN’s 2030 Agenda, culminating in the establishment of Sustainable Development Goal SDG 6 dedicated to “clean water and sanitation for all”. Thus, in 2019, the Embassy of Switzerland to the UAE and Bahrain, established the Sustainable Water Use Platform – which is comprised of senior representatives from government entities, academia, civil society and the private sector to promote dialogue, knowledge exchange and collaboration in the field of sustainable water use in order to address water challenges and contribute to reaching the SDGs.

H.E. Massimo Baggi, Ambassador of Switzerland to the UAE and Bahrain, said in his opening remarks:

“Switzerland has been a pioneer in championing water for sustainable development both at home and globally and Swiss expertise and know-how in this field is highly valued. The Embassy of Switzerland has established the multi-stakeholder Sustainable Water Use Platform out of the conviction that by making good use of the complementary strengths and knowledge of the partners involved, together we can mobilize resources, experiences and good practices to generate innovative solutions to the various water challenges facing this region.”

The event brought together members of the Sustainable Water Use Platform for an interactive discussion on innovative practices and technologies that address various challenges related to sustainable water use in the fields of agriculture, construction, desalination as well as policy and advocacy. The complementarity of such innovative solutions with public sector efforts towards achieving the UAE’s Water Security Strategy 2036 and the SDGs 6 and 17 was also highlighted.

Of the 33 countries the World Resources Institute identified as countries that face extremely high water stress by 2040, 14 are located in the Middle East, particularly the Arabian Peninsula. In order to alleviate its water management challenges, the UAE government has been setting ambitious strategies and various measures to reduce the usage of water and educate people about the importance of this vital resource.

Ms. Moza Al Neimi, the Director of Productivity and Demand at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, said in the context of the event:

“The Ministry is working extensively on developing a strategic framework for sustainable water management. The UAE’s Energy Strategy 2050 and Water Security Strategy 2036 emphasize engagement with various stakeholders, including the private sector, and unify the water framework across the UAE. Recently, the Ministry launched the Demand-Side Management Program that will reduce water demand by 50% compared to business as usual by 2050 through utilizing new water management technologies in major sectors such as agriculture and the built environment. It will be supported with regulation and legislative frameworks, continued water subsidy decreases and raising awareness through information dissemination and educational programs.”

The Sustainable Water Use Platform will continue to convene beyond Expo to pursue further collaboration among its existing members as well as newcomers to the group on sustainable water use in the UAE and, eventually, the broader Gulf region.

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