Global Water Sustainability Organisation Launched

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is set to be the location for the headquarters of a new global water sustainability organisation, with the aim being to integrate and enhance efforts to secure water resources around the world.


According to Arabian Business, the new HQ will be in the capital city of Riyadh, with plans now in place to share expertise, drive innovation and technology, and share research and development experiences. In addition, funding of valuable and important projects will be prioritised, so as to ensure sustainability and accessibility of resources.


The new organisation will work alongside those countries that face severe water-related challenges, as well as nations putting projects high upon the national agenda.


The move is demonstrative of Saudi’s commitment to tackling global water supply challenges head on and is fully aligned with the Kingdom’s dedication to environmental sustainability.


For example, a range of internationally recognised achievements have been delivered in the likes of water production, transportation and distribution to find innovative solutions at a local level. And the Kingdom has also provided over $6 billion in developmental funding to deliver water and sanitation projects across four continents.


What water issues does Saudi Arabia face?


Saudi Arabia is one of the most water stressed countries in the world, with challenges posed by a lack of rainfall, groundwater resource depletion, overconsumption and population growth.


In fact, it has previously been suggested that average water consumption in the Kingdom is double the world average, with domestic demand for water climbing at a rate of 7.5 per cent each year, according to professor Mirza Barjees Baig of King Saud University.


With climate change driving up global temperatures and the country’s population predicted to grow from 34.8 million to more than 40 million between 2022 and 2030, it seems that the launch of this new organisation is certainly well timed.


Saudi’s population has been heavily reliant on desalinated water since the 50s, with groundwater resources largely used for agriculture. As useful as desal has undoubtedly been, it is an expensive way of making water accessible and, most likely, is unsustainable in the long run.


As well as being costly, it’s also very energy intensive, with Professor Baig explaining that it uses up to eight times more energy than groundwater abstraction, accounting for up to 20 per cent of the country’s energy consumption.


There are also other environmental issues associated with desalination to consider, such as increasing the salinity of seawater as a result of brine disposal, which can have an impact on marine health and water quality.


Interestingly, the Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture plans to meet 90 per cent of the country’s water demand through desalination, with ten per cent delivered via ground and surface water by 2030. This would mean that new urban desalination plants would need to be built in order to overcome water shortages of 4.5 million m3 per day.


Other plans the country has in place include achieving 100 per cent reuse of treated urban wastewater by 2025, with applications including crop irrigation, industry reuse and watering urban green spaces.


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