Enhancing Water and Energy Security

  • 20 June 2013

The water and electricity sector is essential to the UAE’s national security, which explains the government’s keenness to lay down a comprehensive, forward-looking strategy based on the awareness of local needs and resources. The recent statement given by the UAE’s Minister of Environment and Water, Rashid Ahmad bin Fahd, on the ministry’s plans to submit a draft law to rationalize water and electricity consumption across the UAE, is a step in this direction. The draft law, which will be implemented next year, will make water and electricity rationalization compulsory, considering potential impact it can have on the UAE’s present and the future.

Several factors could be attributed to the ministry’s efforts in this regard. The UAE accounts for one of the highest levels of water consumption in the world. The situation has remained so despite the government’s strenuous efforts to curb this over the years. According to the ministry’s estimates power consumption represents 83 percent of the UAE’s carbon footprint. The problem has become acute because of the rising local demand for water and electricity owing to a rapidly increasing population and pace of development. As a result, effective action is needed to tackle this problem.

Even though this rate of consumption needs to come down, it does not necessarily have to be at the expense of the quality of life that the government and our wise leadership makes available to its citizens. The achievement of these targets is indeed possible considering the public awareness that already exists with regard to natural resources, particularly water. There is considerable agreement that water is unnecessarily misused and wasted and this was also revealed in an opinion poll conducted by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) recently. The results of the ECSSR poll suggested that 84.5 percent of respondents in the UAE admit that water is being misused in the country.

Moreover, strategies aimed at rationalizing water and electricity consumption have achieved positive results in the past and even better results are expected in the future. Ministry sources confirm that the UAE has managed to lower its carbon footprint from 11.86 hectares in 2006 to 8.4 hectares in 2012. Initiatives have been taken to reduce the country’s power consumption 30 percent by 2030. A binding legislation is now in the pipeline to rationalize water and electricity consumption at a national level to tackle this phenomenon. Initiatives taken in recent times include boosting renewable energy and a green economy initiative which was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.