Responsible water management a must, UAE Climate Minister says
Responsible water management is a “must”, the UAE’S Minister of Climate Change and Environment told the UN General Assembly on Thursday.
Mariam Al Mheiri told the first UN water summit since 1977, “times of crisis demand the best of us.”
“When warnings sound, concerted action must follow,” Ms Al Mheiri said.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday warned that the world’s supplies of clean water are in deep trouble thanks to humanity’s “vampiric” overconsumption.
Ms Al Mheiri underscored the role of innovation, diversification and conservation, and the opportunities they offer to address water shortages.
“Currently, agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of all freshwater withdrawal globally,” she said.
“If we are to shift to a more sustainable pathway, innovation and efficiencies will be inevitable.”
A quarter of the world’s population still does not have access to safe drinking water, while half lack basic sanitation, the UN says.
The Middle East and North Africa is the most scarce region of the world and has only 1.4 per cent of the world’s renewable fresh water.
According to Unicef, about 41 million people in Mena lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 66 million people lack basic sanitation services.
“The stress on our water systems is contributing in ever-more concrete ways to food shortages, farmer-herder tensions and displacement, ultimately undermining stability in the most fragile and conflict-affected areas,” Ms Al Mheiri said.
This week, four UN Security Council members — Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland and the UAE — announced pledges to drive forward “mutual understanding and commitment within the council to address climate change, peace and security.”
“There is no doubt that climate change is the greatest challenge of our time,” said Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s ambassador to the UN.
“There is no true security without climate security. The world, and most importantly the Security Council, cannot and must not look away.”