Emirates News Agency – Water Week discussions highlight water security, technology-driven water management and indigenous knowledge
DUBAI, 27th March, 2022 (WAM) — Expo 2020 Dubai Water Week, the last of 10 themed weeks across the six months of the World Expo, came to a close on Saturday 26th March, after seven days of expert discussions on how to better protect our planet’s most precious but limited natural resource.
Among the key topics discussed throughout the week were water security, future technologies and indigenous peoples’ knowledge as key themes.
The Thematic Week, a collaboration between Expo 2020 Dubai, the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, kicked off last Sunday, March 20, with the World Majlis Deep Roundtable Blue: The (Other) Final Frontier – a collaboration with the Portugal pavilion held at Terra – the sustainability pavilion.
Speakers included Ricardo da Piedade Abreu Serrão Santos, Minister of the Sea, Government of Portugal; Kathleen Swalling, Maritime Law and Strategy Advisor and Managing Director, Nature Based Solutions LLC; and Burton Jones, Professor of Oceanography, Red Sea Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
Jones warned against mining the deep sea without appreciating the environmental ramifications: “It’s a unique ecosystem – we don’t fully understand this ecosystem yet, so if we start mining before we understand the ecological, we have the potential to destroy it before we know what we had.”
The following day, March 21, Nina Jensen, CEO of REV Ocean – a state-of-the-art research vessel – and former General Secretary of WWF Norway, joined other marine experts for a global Majlis focused on marine habitat, touting the role of next-generation robotics, AI, and satellite monitoring in protecting marine ecosystems.
Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure; Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of DEWA; and Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, then opened the Water Business Forum. The event was a co-organization between Expo 2020 Dubai, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Estonia, held at the Dubai Exhibition Center (DEC) on Tuesday, as Water Week was approaching the halfway mark of World Water Day (March 22).
Al Mazrouei spoke about the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036, with Al Tayer making his special remarks that water security is an issue of national importance for the UAE. Erki Savisaar, Estonian Minister for the Environment, touted the success of the European country’s digitization in water management in a subsequent panel, alongside Dr. Markus Lade, Managing Director, Water and Wastewater, Siemens (official infrastructure digitization partner of Expo 2020 Dubai), which shed light on the role of data in identifying and stopping water leaks.
Later in the day (March 22), water experts gathered at the World Water Day flagship event at Expo 2020 Dubai Nexus for People and Planet in a series of busy discussions to reinvent our relationship with water and explore innovations to improve the sustainable use of water.
Mark Harbers, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, The Netherlands, spoke about protecting the country’s groundwater reserves. He said: “In the Netherlands, the three extremely dry summers we have had since 2018 have been a wake-up call in higher areas, groundwater levels are still too low. That is why we are here to find those answers, to implement quickly, and to better care for our common treasure, our groundwater.Groundwater may be out of sight, but it doesn’t have to be out of our minds.
The Nexus also hosted a panel discussion The Indian Ocean | A Shared Heritage and a Sustainable Future the following day, March 23, with speaker Randall Mabwa, Regional Communications Manager, Blue Ventures, touting the key roles of Indigenous communities in the success of Coastal Conversations. “Once you realize they are entitled to management resources, you put them first: it’s not nature, then people, its people, then nature.
“That’s why it’s called People and Planet Agenda – people care about resources if you secure their rights. It’s just about putting them first.”
Water-focused projects supported under Expo Live, Expo 2020 Dubai’s global innovation and partnership program, and the Global Best Practices Program, highlighting tangible solutions to the SDGs for impact world’s largest, were also presented throughout the Week.
To celebrate the six-month collective contribution of stakeholders from across Expo to building a safer, cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Expo 2020 Dubai will also host the 3 km walk for people and Planet’ on Tuesday 29 March.