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Press statement on World Water Day by H.E. Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, the UAE Minister of Environment and Water

H.E. Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, the UAE Minister of Environment and Water, praised the efforts of all intended local authorities in achieving sustainable development, especially in the water and energy sectors, considered amongst the most important for the country. Dr. Bin Fahad assured that the visionary policies under the directives of the wise leadership of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, are based on the understanding of the symbiotic relationship between water and energy sectors and other developmental sectors which has the utmost effect in the improvement in these sectors in the last few years.

In a press statement on the World Water Day today (Friday, March 21, 2014), Dr. Bin Fahad said that the event’s slogan ‘Water and Energy’ focus on the need to give these sectors a bigger importance in the upcoming years. Immense natural and human pressure has led to deterioration of the sectors, which will continue to decline further in future, due to the need to address the increasing demand for water and energy because of rising population and economic development as well as growing competitiveness between different sectors on these resources.

Estimates indicate that production of water and its transportation and processing consumes almost 8 per cent of global energy produced annually. It is expected to rise remarkably in the future, due to the increasing demand for water which will be 44 per cent more in 2050. This would lead to the emergence of several new forms of energy, such as biofuel, which will pose an additional pressure on water resources. Moderate estimates indicate that producing biofuel in today's techniques to operate only 5% of land transport means up to 2030, needs to increase water used in agriculture on a global scale with about 20%, which reflects the significance of water as a standard to assess the feasibility of energy projects.

In line with its ambitious national vision and an integrated strategic plan, the UAE has begun a series of procedures and arrangements for integrated management of natural resources with a focus on improving the institutional and legislative frames of energy and water and build national strategies. The most important among these are the National Strategy for Preserving Water Resources drafted by the Ministry in 2010 and the National Strategy of Energy 2020-2030 being prepared by the UAE Ministry of Energy along with other strategies and work plans on the local level.

The UAE has also adopted a number of important choices, primary being the use of renewable energy in addition to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes which will save about a third of the country’s energy needs by 2020. On the same day last year, Shams 1 plant was inaugurated, which is the first power plant operated by solar power with a production capacity of 100 megawatts. This was followed by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park which has a production capacity of 13 megawatts. The use of solar energy has started with construction of several limited capacity plants in farming areas to desalinate salty underground water, while the first desalination plant will commence operation on a commercial scale by 2020.

The UAE has paid attention to develop its electric energy transport and distribution networks, by utilizing modern techniques and innovations. It is noteworthy that the UAE is ahead of other Middle East countries in using smart electricity networks.

Considering the focal role for improving the efficiency of using water and energy, the UAE paid careful attention to this area by setting up mandatory national specifications and standards. It also took care to see integration between economic mechanisms and use of modern techniques to control consumption alongside raising awareness on the importance of preserving water and energy resources.

Dr. Bin Fahad noted that the UAE Ecological Footprint initiative, launched in 2007, has made the country the third state worldwide, after Switzerland and Japan, to adopt this drive. As a result, the UAE has moved from the stage of limited knowledge on the concept of ecological footprint to a state where some of the world’s most advanced ecological footprint research has been undertaken.

The UAE has also adopted international standards for green architecture, sustainable transport, cleaner production, green applications, and other measurement. This has left a remarkable print in manifesting the UAE’s advanced position in the 2014 Ecological Sustainability Indicator, where it jumped from the 77th position to the 25th position worldwide in 2012.

Dr. Bin Fahad concluded the statement by assuring that implementing the green economy approach in the UAE, according to the principles and routes set by the UAE Green Growth Strategy, will have a major effect on the interconnected relationship between energy and water and will support national efforts to preserve these vital sources.

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