GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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Water has been described as the ‘bloodstream of the green economy’ by the Stockholm Statement of 2011. Water plays a crucial role in all the major sectors of any nation’s economy such as agriculture, industry, energy, etc. Sustainable development through green economy requires that water sector comprehensively addresses the green challenges faced by it. Such challenges are numerous in the GCC countries. Sustainable development of GCC economies requires adoption of viable “Green-indicators”, which is a missing component when it comes to water management. This is evident from the fact that this water stressed region is one of the highest per capita water consumers in the world (e.g. Qatar has per capita water consumption of more than 500 liters daily). Economic efficiency, equity and environmental sustainability are lacking in the water management of the region.
Desalination which plays a dominant role in the water sector in the GCC countries is expanding at a rapid pace due to the scanty rainfall, rapid population growth, industrial and tourism developments in the region. In Oman the demand for desalinated water was predicted to rise from 88 Mm3 in 2007 to 236 Mm3 in 2014, an average annual increase of 15% per year. The importance of desalination in Oman is enormous as most of the drinking water requirements of most of the people of Oman is met by desalinated water. Conventional desalination is the costliest among the non-conventional water resources. Its high energy requirement also results in adding to high per capita GHG emissions of the region. In order to safeguard a sustainable use of desalination technology, the potential environmental impacts of desalination projects need to be evaluated, adverse effects mitigated as far as possible, and the remaining concerns balanced against the impacts of alternative water supply and water management options. Desalination industry will have to become ‘green’ in order to be part of the IWRM of the GCC countries as ecological sustainability is one the three pillars Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
World Bank study shows that environmental degradation due to water pollution in some Arab countries costs from 0.5 to 1.2 percent of their GDP. There are interesting examples from the region that if implemented widely will make the water sector more environmentally sustainable and the region more water secure. Use of renewable energy in the desalination industry, wide use of treated wastewater and greywater, adoption of low cost wastewater technologies, managed aquifer recharge with treated wastewater, water conservation at domestic level and a price and regulatory structure that will encourage conservation without affecting overall public health. Policy makers also need to think seriously about reducing per capita water consumption in the GCC countries as well as the wisdom of using good quality groundwater for agriculture. Current water use in the agriculture sector should be rationalized with greater adoption of biosaline agriculture, use of modern irrigation systems and controlled environment agriculture, practicing deficit irrigation, use of climate smart agriculture, and growing high value crops. This paper will provide a clear path for the water sector of the GCC countries to address the ‘green’ challenges and will discuss the economic issues of environment friendly measures that should be adopted by the water sector of the GCC countries. A ‘green’ water sector will contribute hugely in shifting towards a green economy in the GCC countries.