How can the Middle East and North Africa manage the region’s water crisis?

How can the Middle East and North Africa manage the region’s water crisis?

The forthcoming World Economic Forum Annual Meeting will answer some questions: How can the Middle East and North Africa manage the region’s water crisis?  In the meantime, let us see what it is all about.


How can the Middle East and North Africa manage the region’s water crisis?

Nearly 90% of children in the region live in areas of high or extremely high water stress.

Image: REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

 

This article is part of:World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is one of the most water-scarce regions in the world.

For years, the water crisis has exacerbated conflict and political tensions. Moreover, the issue continues to significantly impact the health and wellbeing of people in the area, especially women and children. In fact, according to UNICEF, nearly 90% of children in the region live in areas of high or extremely high water stress.

As global temperatures rise and the climate crisis accelerates, the MENA water crisis is expected to worsen – and impact economic growth. The World Bank found that climate-related water scarcity could lead to economic losses equaling up to 14% of the region’s GDP over the next 30 years.

Yet technological innovations and advanced water-management systems are helping to mitigate the situation. This includes the development of major desalination plants, as well as the implementation of sustainable agriculture and water-recycling programmes.

Ahead of the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, four industry leaders share their thoughts on the MENA water crisis and detail ongoing efforts to help the region overcome water scarcity in the coming years.

Peter Terium, Chief Executive Officer, ENOWA; Managing Director, Energy, Water & Food, NEOM

“In NEOM, located in the north-west of Saudi, underground water has been more and more used for agriculture and irrigation due to the increase in population in the region. This has led to a drop in the ground water table and has dried up many of the springs in the area, changing the face of the environment. The aquifers no longer have the capability to regenerate themselves due to the water demand and open dumping of wastewater on the land has led to pollution of this scarce resource.

“By replacing the underground water used for irrigation with the desalinated water, and processing the wastewater and recycling all water that normally goes to waste, we will rebalance the ecosystem and bring back the natural oasis in the region. ENOWA, NEOM’s energy and water subsidiary, is creating a circular water system. To realize this, we bring together innovation across the water value chain, and beyond.

“Globally, average water loss is about 30%. By using innovative technologies, ENOWA aims to reduce loss to 3% which reduces the overall infrastructure and costing for water. With smart monitoring technologies, 100% recycling of wastewater, and the production of clean industrial resources, we are maximizing the potential of water use in industry, farming and to rebalance nature.”

With our circular approach, we are positively impacting NEOM’s flora and fauna, and we hope to amplify the positive impact across the world.

— Peter Terium, Chief Executive Officer, ENOWA
How can the Middle East and North Africa manage the region's water crisis?
A boat lies on the dried out shore of the Euphrates river in Syria.

A boat lies on the dried-out shore of the Euphrates river in Syria. Image: REUTERS/Orhan Qereman

Bahrain Economic Development Board

“Gulf Cooperation Council members are taking a multi-faceted approach to addressing water scarcity. Saudi Arabia’s Rabigh 3 Independent Water Plant produces 600,000 cubic metres of desalinated water a day using reverse osmosis. It can meet the needs of 1 million households and is recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest reverse osmosis desalination plant.

“A region as dry as the Arabian Peninsula demands both innovation and efficiency. Bahrain’s agriculture relied exclusively on groundwater until 1985 when the government began treating wastewater for reuse. Today, recycled water covers 40% of the sector’s needs.

“Bahrain EDB focuses on attracting investments and building solutions that have a positive impact on issues like water scarcity, such as Pavilion Water – a water desalination specialist that produces fresh water with zero greenhouse gas emissions.

“Innovative farming is also helping produce more food with less water across the region. UAE-based start-up Smart Acres is a vertical indoor hydroponic farm that, compared to traditional methods, yields 20 times as much food while using a tenth of the land and 90% less water.

“International cooperation on research to solve water scarcity is already proving important, too. Oman, for example, is working with the Dutch government to introduce new ideas to the region, while the Middle East Desalination Centre in Muscat acts as a pioneering hub for research.”

Paddy Padmanathan, Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ACWA Power

“Billions of people around the world lack adequate access to water, a basic need to sustain healthy life. The Middle East and North Africa is the worst off in terms of physical water stress receiving less rainfall than other regions but, yet having fast-growing, densely populated urban centres that require more water.

“Immediately the awareness of the issue needs to be heightened and consumption needs to be contained at 150 litres per day. But to even supply that low level of consumption, we need to keep innovating.

“We at ACWA Power continue to stretch technology to reduce energy, chemical and sophisticated consumables consumption by challenging conventional practices, increasing the use of big data, the phenomenal power of computing, advanced analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to reduce the cost of taking salt out of seawater (desalination) and by increasing the utilization of renewable energy also simultaneously reduce the carbon footprint of this energy intensive process to increase the provision of potable water at a progressively lower cost reducing the impact on climate change.

“With the track record of being the leading desalinator in the world, today dispatching 6.4 million cubic metres per day of desalinated water we are proud to have led the cost reduction challenge by bringing the cost of desalinated water from $2+ per cubic metres just a few years ago to less than $0.50 per cubic metres today.”

How can the Middle East and North Africa manage the region's water crisis?

Majid Al Futtaim Holding

“With some of the highest per-capita water-consumption rates, a hot and dry climate, wasteful water infrastructure and a heavy reliance on greenhouse gas-producing desalination, MENA countries are particularly affected by water scarcity. The region’s rapid population growth has also led many countries to rely heavily on ever-depleting ground and surface water.

“At Majid Al Futtaim, we understand the scale of the issue and began addressing it as part of our sustainability strategy. We developed a clean water investment strategy that focuses on investing in water generation technology, local offsetting and the development of renewable-powered reverse osmosis desalination plants.

As a diverse business operating across industries, Majid Al Futtaim is present in several sectors that are typically characterised by high water use. Yet the company takes several steps to effectively minimise its water footprint.

— Majid Al Futtaim Holding

“In our food and beverage retail sector, 80% of products are sourced locally from the region. We’ve also introduced micro irrigation systems and hydroponic farms into our supply chains to minimise water loss and promote sustainable farming. Meanwhile, in the fashion industry, which as a whole uses 93 billion cubic metres of water annually, Majid Al Futtaim engages with suppliers to offer sustainably made products designed to last longer as well as be re-used or recycled.

“Majid Al Futtaim also institutes sustainable water management systems into its building and community development sector. This includes, for instance, the use of on-site water treatment technologies and sustainable gardening practices.”

Autodesk boss urges contractors to keep up with new tech

Autodesk boss urges contractors to keep up with new tech

A New Civil Engineer’s Innovative Thinker informs that Autodesk boss urges contractors to keep up with new tech.  Let us see.

The image above is of Autodesk Blog

 


Innovative Thinker | Autodesk boss urges contractors to keep up with new tech

Contractors must keep up with technological advances to drive the industry forward, says Autodesk senior vice chairman Jim Lynch.

Globally, the built environment footprint is expected to double in size by 2060. For that to happen in line with net zero targets, technology is going to be critical to improving the way construction is carried out.

Innovative Thinker | Autodesk boss urges contractors to keep up with new tech

Jim Lynch, Vice President & General Manager, Autodesk Construction Solutions.

Autodesk senior vice chairman Jim Lynch puts it simply: “The industry has to find a better way to build and digital is going to play – and is already playing – a huge role in that.”

For technology to advance our construction techniques, digital literacy is going to be required in all practices and, ideally, through all phases of construction.

“The bare minimum is that contractors use digital technology on the job site for collaboration,” says Lynch.

“Ideally, they should use digital technology during the pre-construction process. Moving on from there they should use it to drive operations and maintenance, then take that project information from design out to a digital twin, where they can use that technology to provide management capabilities for the owner.”

To make this a reality, technology must be easy to deploy and adopt, according to Lynch. “If using and deploying technology is going to need weeks of training where you’re taking workers off the job, that’s not going to work,” he explains.

However, Lynch believes the onus is on contractors to invest more in improving their digital literacy if they are falling behind.

“You have to build up that digital muscle,” he says. “And I think, by and large, contractors really do understand that they have to take those first steps around collaboration, then extend those steps into using more digital during the planning process and then continue on from there.”

He believes that today’s contractors are embracing technology faster than ever, not only because of the competition, but also because of the expectations of clients and the government. He points to the UK’s Building Safety Act, which became law in April 2022, as a driver.

“That is really all about data; it is ensuring that owners, contractors and designers all play a role in making sure that digital information is created, captured and stored throughout the entire process.”

Lynch believes a big challenge is going to be attracting the workforce to build all the future projects – but that digital could play a part in drawing people in. “I think the use of digital technologies to drive better outcomes in construction will be intriguing to the younger generation,” he says.

“How to apply technology to the construction process, especially when you think about augmented reality and virtual reality applications, will drive a greater interest in the workforce.”

He adds that the industry has made great progress in its use of technology in recent decades. “But I think we’ve only scratched the surface,” he says. “I think the best is really yet to come.”

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Robots to be oil and gas industry’s growth engine

Robots to be oil and gas industry’s growth engine

The combination of new technologies of Robots and all in the Middle East’s oil and gas industry’s growth engine is thought to help energy companies to improve efficiency and, most importantly, accelerate growth at a time of pessimism, fear, and the expectation that economic growth and the hydrocarbon markets will decline in the future.
The image above is of IGN

Robots to be oil and gas industry’s growth engine

Robots will be the industry’s growth engine, and the oil and gas sector will greatly benefit from emerging use cases.
Robots to be oil and gas industry’s growth engine robot in oil and gas sector

Advances in modular and customisable robots is expected to result in growing deployment of robotics in the oil and gas industry, says GlobalData.

GlobalData’s thematic report, ‘Robotics in Oil & Gas’, notes that, while robotics has been a part of the oil and gas industry for several decades, growing digitalisation and integration with artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, and Internet of Things (IoT), have helped diversify robot use cases within the industry.

Anson Fernandes, Oil and Gas Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “A huge number of robots are now being deployed in oil and gas operations, including terrestrial crawlers, quadrupeds, aerial drones, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).”

Robots have applications across the oil and gas industry in various tasks ranging from surveys, material handling, and construction to inspection, repair, and maintenance. They can be customised for various tasks to ease the work and improve efficiency. During the planning phases of an oil and gas project, robots can be deployed to conduct aerial surveys, or they can be employed to conduct seismic surveys during exploration. Aerial or underwater drones can be adopted depending upon the project location and work requirements.

Fernandes continues: “Robotics is a fast-growing industry. According to GlobalData forecasts, it was worth $52.9 billion in 2021 and will reach $568 billion by 2030, recording a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30%. Robots will be the industry’s growth engine, and the oil and gas sector will greatly benefit from emerging use cases.”

Data analytics and robotics improve insight obtained from surveys and surveillance exercises. This symbiotic relationship between robotics and wider digitalisation technologies is expected to be further evolve through collaborations between technology providers and oil and gas industry players.

Fernandes concludes: “The volume of robotics use cases in the oil and gas industry is expected to grow rapidly, in tow with digitalisation. Industrial robots with analytical support from digital technologies is expected to become the mainstay across the oil and gas industry, especially in the upstream sector, where personnel safety and operational security concerns are heightened.”

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ITP.net

UAE Will Benefit From Its Global Leadership In The Clean And Renewable Energy Sector

UAE Will Benefit From Its Global Leadership In The Clean And Renewable Energy Sector

The UAE Will Benefit From Its Global Leadership In The Clean And Renewable Energy Sector, as per Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD&CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), in a SOLAR QUARTER article reproduced below.

The image above is of the World Economic Forum


The UAE Will Benefit From Its Global Leadership In The Clean And Renewable Energy Sector – MD & CEO of DEWA

 

UAE Will Benefit From Its Global Leadership In The Clean And Renewable Energy Sector

A file photo of HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD&CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)

The presence of the Middle East and North Africa region on the global sustainability agenda continues to grow. The region is witnessing significant momentum in accelerating climate action and strengthening bridges of international cooperation to mitigate the repercussions of climate change. This can be seen from the hosting of the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and preparations of the UAE to host COP 28 in Dubai Expo City in November 2023, which will accelerate the pace of climate action to combat climate change and global warming. Choosing the two countries to host COP 27 and COP 28 marks the beginning of a series of regional events that will last for 18 months, placing the Arab world at the centre of global activities in mitigating climate change.

The two conferences highlight the region’s role in the sustainability agenda by adopting effective strategies to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects. The two conferences are also of particular importance for supporting climate financing for developing countries and supporting energy transition sustainably and equitably for all relevant parties, consolidating constructive partnerships between the public and private sectors. They also enable bridging the gap between ̒the South and the North ̓ and between the developing and developed countries. This helps to find innovative green solutions to the challenges posed by climate change, ensuring long-term economic and social benefits for the region and the world and achieving a more sustainable future for all.

COP27 has provided many meaningful opportunities for the UAE’s investments, making COP28 essential for expanding economic growth and prosperity with lowered emissions. The UAE will also benefit from its track record in reducing emissions, its global leadership in the clean and renewable energy sector, as well as its good relations, that consolidate the bonds of communication and dialogue; and mobilize efforts to transform climate action into opportunities for economic development and diversification. Moreover, it aims to support the implementation of the outputs of the previous COPs to achieve the Paris Agreement and raise awareness in society on their role that can bring about a positive effect in reducing their carbon footprint. This aligns with the wise leadership’s vision to make COP28 the most successful global environmental conference.

COP28 is also an important platform to highlight the UAE’s journey toward achieving comprehensive sustainable development, the foundations of which were laid by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. This is turn, is supported by the wise directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE; and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to ensure a balance between economic growth and the sustainability of natural and environmental resources. This journey has resulted in the country assuming a leading global position in diversifying energy sources, through massive clean energy projects, the largest and most efficient solar power plants, in addition to being the first country in the region to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes to generate electric power. Oil and gas in the UAE are also among the least carbon-intensive in the world. The UAE is the first country in the region to ratify the Paris Agreement and to announce a strategic initiative to achieve Net Zero by 2050. The UAE also hosts the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The UAE has invested more than US$50 billion in clean energy projects in 70 countries including 40 developing nations and recently announced the UAE-US Partnership to Accelerate the Transition to Clean Energy (PACE). The project will catalyze US$100 billion in financing, investment, and other support and will deploy 100 gigawatts of clean energy globally.

To further spearhead the transition towards a green economy, the UAE Cabinet, Chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, approved the UAE to join the Global Alliance for Green Economy, announced by the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO) during the World Green Economy Summit 2022. The Alliance will play a pivotal role in promoting climate action, food security, and climate resilient development. WGEO called for supporting this global alliance to accelerate the transition towards a green economy, achieve the goals of sustainable development, and the implementation of the Paris Agreement by harnessing financing, technology, capacity building, and other factors that contribute to enabling a green economy.

In Dubai, we have developed major projects and strategic initiatives implemented by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to achieve the goals of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the Dubai Net Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy 2050 to provide 100% of Dubai’s total production capacity from clean energy sources by 2050. Among the most prominent of these projects is the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the world’s largest single-site solar park using the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model, with a production capacity of 5,000 megawatts by 2030. DEWA is also implementing several leading projects to diversify clean energy sources. These include multiple clean and renewable energy sources and technologies such as PV panels, CSP, and green hydrogen production using solar power, which is the first of its kind in the MENA region to produce hydrogen using solar energy. DEWA is also working on pumped-storage water technology using clean energy in Hatta, the first of its kind in the GCC region. DEWA has also implemented several projects to increase energy efficiency.

Furthermore, in 2022, the first-ever MENA Week was hosted by the UAE Government, represented by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO), and DEWA, in collaboration with the UNFCCC, which accelerated the momentum towards COP 27.

In the UAE, we do not rest on our laurels. We continue our relentless efforts to achieve carbon neutrality and support the transition to a green economy. We look forward to COP28 in the UAE to make a tangible impact on climate neutrality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, consolidate our positive contribution to climate change, transform challenges into opportunities, and anticipate and shape a brighter future for all humans.

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Draft UN nature deal calls to protect 30% of planet

Draft UN nature deal calls to protect 30% of planet

A Draft UN nature deal calls to protect 30% of the planet by 2030, as shown in EURACTIV.com with AFP, reveals our dramatic situation. Is this a good chance not to overlook; only time can tell.  
The above image is of TRENDS

Draft UN nature deal calls to protect 30% of planet by 2030

Opening the talks in Montreal, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned humanity had become a “weapon of mass extinction” and called on parties to forge a “peace pact with nature.” [UN Biodiversity / Flickr]

A UN nature deal proposed Sunday (18 December) calls to protect at least 30% of the planet by 2030 and asks rich countries to stump up $30 billion in yearly aid for developing nations to save their ecosystems.

Fraught talks seeking an agreement to save the species and ecosystems on which life depends came to a head as summit chair China presented a long-awaited compromise text.

Mapping out action for the next decade to reverse destruction that scientists say threatens a million species, the proposal called on wealthy countries to increase financial aid to the developing world to $20 billion annually by 2025, rising to $30 billion per year by 2030.

It also called on countries to “ensure and enable that by 2030 at least 30% of terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine areas” are effectively conserved and managed.

The text includes language safeguarding the rights of Indigenous people as stewards of their lands, a key demand of campaigners.

The compromise text was largely welcomed by conservationists, but still needs to be agreed upon by the 196 signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity before it is finalised.


Risk of pushback

Opening the talks in Montreal, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned humanity had become a “weapon of mass extinction” and called on parties to forge a “peace pact with nature.”

The COP15 meeting is being held in Canada because of China’s strict COVID rules.

Delegates began examining the draft agreement just as the football World Cup between France and Argentina kicked off in Qatar.

A plenary session was scheduled for Sunday evening when countries will have the opportunity to approve the deal. Negotiations over the past 10 days have been slow however and observers warned the talks, scheduled to end on Monday, could run over.

“The Chinese presidency’s draft final paper is courageous,” said Germany’s environment minister Steffi Lemke. “By protecting nature, we protect ourselves.”

“By including a target to protect and conserve at least 30 percent of the world’s lands and oceans, the draft text makes the largest commitment to ocean and land conservation in history,” said Brian O’Donnell, of the Campaign for Nature.

But there was also concern that some areas of the text had been watered down.

Georgina Chandler, of Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said she was worried about a lack of numeric “milestones” for restoring ecosystems by 2050.

“We’re basically not measuring progress until 28 years’ time, which is madness,” she said.

Pressure mounts on EU to maintain ambition on biodiversity at COP15

Lawmakers and civil society are calling on the EU to support an ambitious agreement on nature protection at the COP15 international biodiversity conference following concerns the bloc is not defending a robust text.

 


Funding dispute

Another major issue of contention is the funding mechanism.

Developing countries, spearheaded by Brazil, were seeking the creation of a new fund to signal the Global North’s commitment to the cause. But the draft text instead suggests a compromise: a “trust fund” within the existing Global Environment Facility.

Observers had warned the COP15 conference risked collapse as countries squabbled over how much the rich world should pay to fund the efforts, with developing nations walking out of talks at one point.

But Chinese environment minister Huang Runqiu said Saturday he was “greatly confident” of a consensus and his Canadian counterpart Steven Guilbeault said “tremendous progress” had been made.

The more than 20 targets also include reducing environmentally destructive farming subsidies, asking businesses to assess and report on their biodiversity impacts, and tackling the scourge of invasive species.

But the issue of how much money the rich countries will send to the developing world, home to most of the planet’s biodiversity, has been the biggest sticking point.

Lower income nations point out developed countries grew rich by exploiting their natural resources and therefore they should be paid well to protect their own.

Current financial flows to the developing world are estimated at around $10 billion per year.

Several countries have recently made new commitments. The European Union has committed €7 billion ($7.4 billion) for the period until 2027, double its prior pledge.


Biodiversity in Europe: EU aims to protect 30% of land and sea

With a UN biodiversity summit approaching in spring, 2021 has been hailed as a super year for biodiversity. As part of its contribution, the European Commission is preparing legislation to introduce legal protection for 30% of land and sea in Europe.

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