(MENAFN - Arab News) GCC Secretary-General Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani yesterday called for a futuristic GCC water security strategy for the 21st century, claiming the six-member group is fully aware of the challenges surrounding water as an essential element for survival and progress.
Addressing the 10th GCC Water Conference in Doha, he explained GCC states anticipate high economic growth over the next five years in terms of production and consumption alike, and a substantial increase in the population of citizens and expatriates.
He described the GCC per capita consumption of water as the highest in the world. The GCC countries have adopted a series of measures such as investment in water desalination, enacting of joint legislation and setting up an all-GCC Water Emergency Plan to salvage the situation.
Al-Zayani said the GCC countries should adopt an integrated methodology to help them surmount the challenges of water and energy production and consumption.
The GCC countries seek to achieve a number of major strategic goals such as fortification against all hazards, increase economic growth, achieve higher levels of human development, ensure safety through increased awareness about risks and crises management, and boost the GCC regional and international position.
The conference is jointly organized by the Water Science and Technology Association (WSTA), Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation and the GCC General Secretariat. It will focus on coordination and cooperation among the Gulf Cooperation Council states in the development and management of water resources, and the rationalization of water usage.
As many as 500 delegates from GCC states and a number of Arab and foreign countries are taking part in the conference, which is scheduled to discuss 70 research papers.
Unlike other natural resources, water has great importance for human survival, and is a strategically vital resource for the development of nations. In the GCC countries, which are located in one of the driest regions of the world, water management and its sustainable provision has grown to be one of the most important and challenging tasks faced by water authorities.
Due to the scarcity and rapid depletion of freshwater resources, a heavy financial and economic burden is to be borne in the provision of non-conventional water resources, mainly desalination and reuse of treated wastewater.
"The water challenge is compounded by its multiple nexuses with the various development components, such as water and human health, water and environment, water and food, water and energy, and many other interdependencies, which carry within them many cross-cutting issues of social, economic, legal, technical and political nature," said one of the organizers.
The conference offers a platform to share knowledge and experiences for researchers, executives, decision makers, and other stakeholders on modern methodologies and techniques in the planning and preparation of medium and long-term national strategies for the sustainable management of water, energy and food in the GCC countries.
It will also shed light on current trends and future developments in desalination technologies and alternative energy sources; design, operation, and management of desalination plants; innovative desalination plants design and modeling; economics and financing of desalination; desalination and renewable energy sources.