DUBAI, 18 March (BelTA - Emirates News Agensy). - Water will underpin Expo 2020 Dubai's final Theme Week, uniting public and private sector change-makers from 20th-26th March to explore how to better preserve and protect a finite, precious and threatened natural resource that sustains all life on Earth.
Covering more than two-thirds of the planet's surface, water is an essential developmental pillar. Its conservation is critical to building a safe, clean and healthy future for people and the planet, as enshrined in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Today, one in four people (two billion) worldwide also lack safe drinking water, half (3.6 billion) lack safe sanitation, and 2.3 billion go without basic handwashing facilities at home.
Water Week – a collaboration between Expo 2020 Dubai; the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure; and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment – will comprise a series of purposeful and action-orientated events to explore water in all its facets.
The events will include the global community's collective responsibility to better manage and preserve water in the face of climate change, plastic pollution, over-fishing, and other threats.
Expert discussions include the Water Business Forum at Dubai Exhibition Centre and flagship event at the Nexus for People and Planet in Expo 2020 Dubai's Opportunity District. Both will take place on World Water Day (22nd March), an annual celebration highlighting the importance of fresh water and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
Speakers across the Week will also include Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure; Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment; Erki Savisaar, Minister of the Environment of Estonia; Dr Zaini Ujang, Secretary-General, Ministry of Environment and Water of Malaysia; and Rajendra Singh, environmentalist, water conservationist and Chairman of Tarun Bharat Sangh.
Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said, "Water is a prerequisite for all life on Earth, but we do not value it enough. Access to safe drinking water, sanitation and the effective management of our planet's oceans and freshwater resources is a matter of justice, fairness and equity.
By exploring the role of water and how to better value and preserve it for future generations, Water Week honours this essential resource that underpins all efforts to address the opportunities and most critical challenges facing both people and planet, she added.
Al Mazrouei said that the issue of preserving and sustaining water resources, in conjunction with population increase and keeping pace with the development witnessed by the world, represents "a great challenge". It requires upholding the principles of international cooperation and concerted efforts to confront challenges in water sector, with the scarcity of water resources being one of the biggest challenges facing the Arab region.
"The UAE Government firmly believes that Water Security is a prerequisite for sustainable development efforts and a stimulus for the country's efforts towards achieving its aspirations for the next fifty years," he added.
Almheiri commented, "We say water is life because water is the base of all life forms on Earth. As we move towards a global population of 10 billion in 2050, current ecosystems face immense pressure to meet the growing demand for this life-sustaining resource without further strain on our environment."
In line with the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036, the UAE Government follows an integrated approach to address water scarcity at home and abroad, she explained. "Expo's Water Week fits perfectly into our efforts, as it will raise public awareness of water conservation and spur the conversation among stakeholders to drive sustainable water management."
Water-focused projects supported under Expo Live, Expo 2020 Dubai's global innovation and partnership programme, and the Global Best Practice Programme – spotlighting tangible solutions to the SDGs for greater global impact – will also feature across Water Week.
From a Pakistan-based project helping water-stressed rural communities barter livestock for solar energy, to the world's largest fog-collection installation in Morocco and a foot-operated hand wash solution to stop the spread of COVID-19, these Expo 2020 Dubai-backed projects are transforming lives in the communities they operate.
Water Week is the last of 10 Theme Weeks that have taken place throughout the six months of Expo 2020 Dubai, forming part of the Programme for People and Planet.