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Call to tackle water scarcity in Gulf region

Manama, October 5, 2010

Bahrain and its neighbours must take significant action to tackle the problem of water scarcity, says a top environment expert.

It should be a top priority for the region, but countries are only focussing on supply and not conservation, warned Arabian Gulf University professor of water resources Dr Waleed Zubari.

He called for legislation to tackle water management issues and encourage the population to conserve resources.

'We are dealing with the issue of water scarcity and the inadequate management of water,' Dr Zubari said.

'But in general we are not dealing with water as a priority issue, we are just looking at supply and not conserving water.'

Dr Zubari explained that Bahrain lacked legislation that tackled the issue of water scarcity and its management.

However, the country has identified this lack of regulations and legislation and has recently established a National Water Resources Council, mandated to set policy, strategy and management.

'There is a lot to be done to change the population from water consumers to water conservers,' said Dr Zubari.

'There are ways to achieve this through economic tools such as incentives or disincentives, awareness raising and introducing by-laws that deal with building developments and roads, for example.' He was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day regional consultation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5), which concludes at Gulf Hotel today.

He joined top experts from West Asia who are gathering to contribute to the production of the GEO-5, the latest of UNEP's series of influential global state of the environment reports.

By the end of today's meeting experts are to decide on between three to five priority environmental issues or challenges facing West Asia and settle on one internationally agreed goal for each of them.

Water scarcity is expected to be one of the five priority environment issues to be agreed upon, said Co-operation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf environmental department director Minister Plenipotentiary Dr Fahmi Al Ali.

He said the lack of clean water supplies, marine pollution, deficiencies in solid waste management and challenges to plant and animal biodiversity were some of the major environment issues facing the region.

The GCC is in the process of identifying laws and regulations needed to address the environmental problems and had already introduced a convention to protect plant and animal biodiversity, he said.

Dr Al Ali said marine pollution was being addressed through initiatives such as setting up reception facilities at ports to wash oil and other pollutants from ships.

'We have had a high principle of policy protection of the environment since 1985 during the sixth GCC summit in Muscat,' he said on the sidelines of the meeting.

'But the implementation has gone slow, there are about 90 major environment laws in the GCC but we need tools to implement them and ways to check that regulations are being adhered to.'-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Water scarcity | Environment | conservation | Gulf region |

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