World Water Day 2022 – Talking water scarcity in the Middle East

To mark World Water Day, Aither’s global team represented by Will Fargher, Samantha Yates, Joe Lorimer, Huw Pohlner and Luke Dowdeswell-Downey, had the opportunity to participate in several events at Dubai Expo. In a region home to 12 of the 17 most water stressed countries, conversations focused heavily on managing water scarcity and improving water security.

After celebrating ‘World Water Day Eve’ at the Australian Embassy in Riyadh, Aither hosted an interactive workshop on Redefining water sector ambition: The future of water policy and regulation in arid regions as part of the Dubai International Conference on Water Resources Management and Sustainability in Arid Regions, jointly organised by the United Arab Emirates University, South Australian Department for Water and Environment, and the Goyder Institute.

The workshop brought together government representatives, academics, engineers, scientists, utility leaders, regulators and others from over 15 countries to share ideas and perspectives on emerging water policy and regulatory challenges and opportunities. Key themes included strengthening and investing in institutions and governance to keep pace with a rapidly evolving water sector and the need to build capability and capacity for integrated decision-making. We are thankful to all those who attended the workshop.

Following the workshop, Will Fargher and Huw Pohlner both gave keynote presentations as part of the Conference. Will’s presentation explored the idea that ‘governance is infrastructure‘, while Huw shared Aither’s experience developing and applying WaterGuide in multiple countries over the past five years, as a means for diagnosing water sector challenges, identifying fit-for-purpose solutions, and prioritising among them.

To round out the week, Will joined the hosts at Studio Expo on Dubai One Television for a live interview on the importance of valuing water.

Following two years of cancelled events and a shift to predominantly online engagement and presentations, it was a refreshing and exciting change of pace to meet in-person and share experiences from across the globe. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his World Water Day address, ‘Let us commit to intensifying collaboration among sectors and across borders so we can sustainably balance the needs of people and nature’. This is a commitment we wholly support and we look forward to keeping the conversation going on this important issue.