Expo 2020's Water Week highlights water security, tech-led water management, indigenous knowledge

Expo 2020's Water Week highlights water security, tech-led water management, indigenous knowledge

Expo 2020 Dubai’s Water Week, the final of 10 Theme Weeks across the World Expo’s six-month run, ended on Saturday, 26th March, after seven days of expert discussions on ways to better safeguard our planet’s most precious but finite natural resource.

Among the key topics examined throughout the week were water security, future technologies and indigenous people’s knowledge as standout themes.

The Theme Week, a collaboration between Expo 2020 Dubai, the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, began last Sunday, 20th March, with World Majlis panel discussion Deep 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, the Red Sea Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

Jones warned of exploiting the deep sea without appreciating the environmental ramifications,

"It’s a unique ecosystem – we don’t fully understand that ecosystem yet so, if we go start exploiting these before we understand the ecological aspects of it, we have the potential to destroy it before we knew what we had."

The next day, 21st March, saw Nina Jensen, CEO, REV Ocean – a state-of-the-art research vessel – and former Secretary-General of WWF Norway, join other maritime experts for a marine habitat-focused World Majlis, touting the role of next-gen 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, Dubai Chamber of Commerce, then opened the Water Business Forum. The event was a co-curation between Expo 2020 Dubai, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Estonia, held at Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC) on Tuesday, as Water Week approached the halfway mark on World Water Day (22nd March).

Al Mazrouei spoke on the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036, with Al Tayer making his special remarks that water security is a matter of national importance for the UAE. Erki Savisaar, Estonia’s Minister of Environment, touted the European country’s digitalisation success in water management in a later panel, alongside Dr. Markus Lade, General Manager, Water & Wastewater, Siemens (Official Infrastructure Digitalisation Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai), who spotlighted the role of data in identifying and stopping water leakages.

Later that day (22nd March), water experts gathered at the flagship World Water Day event at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Nexus for People and Planet in a series of discussions tasked with reimagining our relationship with water and exploring innovations to improve sustainable water use.

Mark Harbers, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Netherlands, spoke on protecting the country’s groundwater reserves. He said,

"In the Netherlands, the three extremely dry summers we've had since 2018 have been a wake-up call in higher areas, groundwater levels are still too low. That's why we're here to find these answers, to implement them rapidly and to take better care of our joint treasure our groundwater. Groundwater may be out of sight, but it must not be out of our minds."

The Nexus also hosted expert discussion The Indian Ocean | A Shared Heritage and Sustainable Future the following day, 23rd March, with speaker Randall Mabwa, Regional Communications Officer, Blue Ventures, touting indigenous communities’ key roles in coastal conversation success.

"Once you realise that they have the right for management resources, then you put them first: it’s not nature and then people, its people and then nature.

"That's why this is called Programme for People and Planet – the people take care of the resources if you secure their rights. It's just putting them first."

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, also featured across the Week.

In celebration of the collective six-month contribution of stakeholders from across the World Expo in building a safer, cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future via the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Expo 2020 Dubai will also host the 3km ‘Walk for People and Planet’ on Tuesday, 29th March.

News Source: Emirates News Agency

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