Important Implications of GCC Water Strategy

  • 9 December 2010

One of the most important conclusions to have come out of the 31st GCC Summit – held in Abu Dhabi from December 6-7 under the chairmanship of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan – was the Water Declaration. The Declaration included a comprehensive vision of how GCC countries should deal with this vital issue of direct consequence to the present and future development. Perhaps what distinguished this Declaration from the strategies of the past is that it went beyond general directives to lay down a clear and detailed vision. It also contains specific steps to draw a comprehensive roadmap to handle the gap between water availability and consumption in the GCC, a gap that is neither small nor narrow.

The attention paid to water during the Summit and its decision to dedicate an independent and detailed declaration on it confirms the regional leaders’ foresight. It demonstrates their keenness to look into the future, secure their development accomplishments and to work for its sustainability. Water is the backbone of life, development and civilization but is scarce in GCC region where around half of the world’s desalinated water is produced. Different studies suggest that the need for water in the GCC will rise in the coming years due to an increase in population and development needs. According to these studies, the demand for water in the GCC will reach around 32.5 billion cubic meters by 2025 and its present water deficiency is estimated to be at around 15 billion cubic meter annually.

The GCC member countries put development issues on top of their list of priorities. They are keen to deepen cooperation in this regard and recognize that such issues should be on top of their priorities because they are related to the lives of the people, their present and the future. Perhaps what distinguishes the GCC as an Arab regional organization is the fact that in recent years it has achieved great accomplishments by linking its members to a network of common interests that match with the interests of the region and its development. The Abu Dhabi Water Declaration represents a milestone on this path, especially because it connects water with energy issues, food security and environment in a manner that speaks of the comprehensiveness and clarity of its leadership’s vision.

The 15 recommendations contained in the Abu Dhabi Water Declaration makes it an important document targeted at achieving a major transformation in the GCC’s handling of this vital issue. This is an important component of the successes achieved during the GCC summit in Abu Dhabi and also lays down what awaits the collective Gulf approach on major development issues under the chairmanship of the UAE.