By The Gulf Intelligence
Doha, May. 1 2016 (Gulf Intelligence) – Qatar’s Industry-Academia-Government are not adequately aligned with the country’s water security strategy to sufficiently withstand a large scale disaster if there was an earthquake or an oil spill, 75% of respondents to a Gulf Intelligence (GI) Industry Survey said.
The Middle East is located at the junction of major tectonic plates – namely the African, Arabian and Eurasian plates – which causes significant tectonic activity in the region. Plus, the Arabian Gulf hosts the world’s biggest concentration of oil tankers. Yet, only 2% of respondents to the GI Industry Survey said that Qatar’s Industry-Academia-Government’s united water security outlook is well-aligned to deal with an unexpected and negative event on a national scale. The three institutions could handle a disaster sufficiently, 23% of respondents said.
Improving Qatar’s water security is the third and last of the Key Challenges outlined in the country’s National Vision 2030, following on from energy security and cyber security. Strong communication channels and clear goals are vital between Industry-Academia-Government to ensure a holistic effort.
Such an approach would mean nurturing the education of water experts in Qatar and facilitating research and development (R&D) into innovative and cost-effective water technologies. For example, desalination technologies have quickly evolved – 99% of Qatar’s municipal demand is supplied via desalination – but much more R&D is required to reduce the high associated costs.
A holistic approach would also include a clear regulatory framework that holds Industry-Academic-Government accountable for their actions, as well as help, change the way Qatari society consumes water. Qatar’s inter-ministerial Permanent Population Committee estimates that residents consume 675 litres of water per capita per day – nearly twice the average consumption in the EU. Cuts to water subsidies by Qatar’s utility Kahramma in January marked a significant step.
Industry-Academia-Government must first unite their efforts by mending today’s wobbly bridges of communication. The level of national cohesion will become especially vital as the global spirit of innovation spirit accelerates. For example, the world’s largest renewable energy developer, SunEdison, signed a power purchase (PPA) agreement with a Californian water district to install solar, which will save the district $9.5 million in energy costs – plus 20m gallons of water per year.
By aligning Industry-Academia-Government’s goals and R&D efforts, Doha could transform today’s strained water security outlook into a profitable knowledge-based export product in years to come. Developing water expertise at home and exporting water solutions to other countries facing similar challenges would also support Qatar’s goal to become a knowledge-based economy, as per the country’s National Vision 2030. Qatar is not alone as it works to improve its water security. The UN expects a 40% global shortfall of water availability by 2030, with 650 million people currently living without access to clean water