Reduced consumption won’t increase supply, says UNESCO expert

Countries such as the UAE should look for ways to limit water demand amid population growth and growing concerns about climate change, a leading expert said.

While discussions about water often focus on how to maintain or increase supply, Professor David Hanna, the UNESCO Chair of Water Science at the University of Birmingham, UK, said that was only part of the equation.

and National Ahead of his participation in the World Parliament at Expo 2020 Dubai on Tuesday, March 22, World Water Day, he said progress could be made by reducing agricultural water demand and changing personal behaviour.

We do need to consider the demand side.This is especially important given population growth

Professor David Hanna

“We really need to think about the demand side,” he said. “This is especially important given population growth.”

He noted that the UAE’s per capita water consumption of 550 litres per day is one of the “highest” figures in the world.

Professor Hannah added that greater efforts to reuse water and change behaviour could help limit demand, as could regulation to encourage water conservation and the need to consider water costs.

Professor Hannah noted that across the region, agriculture consumes a lot of water, accounting for 70% of demand, while households and industry account for 20% and 10% respectively.

“A lot of it goes to agriculture,” he said. “How to subsidize water-intensive crops must be considered.”

In terms of its own impact, people should consider not only their personal use, but also how their food and other goods, such as clothing, affect their demand for water, which is an individual’s “global water footprint”, Professor Hannah said. a part of.

Demand for water rises as population surges

Globally, freshwater use has increased severalfold over the past century as the world’s population has increased.

According to OurWorldinData, using data from the Global International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), total global freshwater withdrawals (water from ground or surface sources) in 1901 were 671.31 million cubic meters.

In 2014, the last year IGBP compiled data, the total volume was 3.99 trillion cubic meters.

While the UAE consumes several times more water than many other countries, efforts have been made to limit water usage over the years.

For example, in 2010, the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency launched a “Water Saver” campaign to install water-saving equipment in residential, government, educational, religious and industrial buildings in the emirate.

Professor David Hannah will speak on World Water Day at Expo 2020 Dubai.Photo: David Hannah

The UAE has also become an important centre for hydroponic farming, in which plants are grown in a nutrient solution rather than soil, using a fraction of the water used in conventional farming.

With high demand for water, the effects of climate change add another layer of uncertainty, as Professor Hannah said it was clear temperatures would rise in the region, but forecasts for precipitation ranged from a 20% decrease to a 10% increase .

Getting people into the water cycle

At Expo 2020 Dubai, Professor Hannah will speak at Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion on the Price of Water.

As part of his UNESCO Chair in Water Science, he is passionate about improving education about the water cycle, how water moves and is stored in the different atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanic compartments of the cycle.

He is also keen for people to be recognised for their impact on the water cycle.

An international research project involving Professor Hannah looked at 450 diagrams of the water cycle in a variety of media, including textbooks and scientific articles.

The study found that despite the important role humans play, 85% of graphs do not depict people in the water cycle, while only 2% depict climate change and 2% pollution.

“It makes us feel like the water cycle is being distorted because people do have an impact on the water cycle,” he said.

“There is a lack of awareness of people’s relationship with water. This gives us a false sense of security about our current and future water supplies.”

He noted that people’s impacts on water-related systems are significant but often not widely appreciated, as wetlands are disappearing three times as fast as forests, but they don’t get as much attention.

In addition to water quantity, he said water quality is also a key issue, with an estimated 1.8 million people dying from water pollution each year.

Hydroponic Agriculture – Pictures

Updated: March 21, 2022 3:47 AM

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