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World Water Day: Eco-Conscious Communities Offer the Perfect Pathway to Protecting Precious Water Resources

Opinion March 26, 2024

World Water Day arrived this year at a pivotal moment for humanity. As the catalyst of life and the common thread that binds civilisations together, water’s role in fostering peace, prosperity and a sustainable future in an ever-warming planet has never been more critical.

On March 19, the World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) State of the Global Climate Report for 2023 gave an ominous new definition to the phrase “off the charts.” The UN agency’s annual report found that 2023 wasn’t just the hottest year on record, but that ocean heat also reached its highest level since records began, global mean sea level hit a record high, and Antarctic sea ice reached a record low – crippling life for millions of people across the world and inflicting billions of dollars in economic losses.

Water for peace
That’s why the UN-mandated theme for World Water Day this year — “Water for Peace” – is an apt reminder of the risks to peaceful and cooperative management of water resources from local to global levels against the stark backdrop of climate change, as well as the opportunities to find sustainable solutions to mitigate those risks.

The UN estimates that globally, 2 billion people or 26% of the total population do not have access to safe drinking water, and between 2 and 3 billion people experience water shortages for at least one month per year. And this is not just a problem restricted to the water sector – the damage caused by such shortages pose severe risks to livelihoods, notably through food security and access to electricity.

Safeguarding this precious common future of humanity is, therefore, an urgent responsibility for the international community – it is essential to act together to create the pathways for sharing freshwater resources equitably, managing them sustainably, and fostering peace and harmony between communities in the process.

Water security in the Middle East
In arid regions like the Gulf and most of the Middle East, the imperative for sustainable water management solutions has never been more pressing – and countries such as the UAE have adopted pioneering strategies for safeguarding the vital aspects of its water supply chain and ensuring water security. The ambitious UAE Water Security Strategy 2036 is literally a watershed moment in this regard, as are initiatives such as the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award, and the clear mandate for decarbonizing the water sector in the historic UAE Consensus adopted at COP28.

A shared responsibility
But the onus of securing a sustainable future for water cannot be only on governments and institutions – this is a journey in which all of us are equal partners, and therefore all of society must play a constructive role to combat the risks and shape the opportunities created by the pivot to a green economy.

When urban communities are designed within a holistic sustainable and smart framework, those opportunities become abundantly available within the community and makes it a lot easier for people to fulfil such commitments – enabling the perfect balance between economic and social development while preserving precious natural resources for future generations.

Leading the way in sustainable living
As the first sustainable master-planned residential community in Sharjah, this has exactly been our endeavor at Sharjah Sustainable City: guiding and educating our growing community in impactful ways for them to truly understand and experience sustainable living, with preserving water resources being at the heart of it. For instance, a dedicated Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Sharjah Sustainable City treats 100% of the community’s wastewater for landscape irrigation and maximizes recycling to divert waste from landfills, while avoiding emissions associated with water tankers.

The community also features facilities such as biodomes with vertical farms that can produce about 90,000 kg of chemical-free leafy greens and vegetables, helping to create a self-sustainable and water-resilient community. In addition, by using Precast Wall Panels in the building envelope to lower the total Embodied Carbon and by maximizing shading, the villas at Sharjah Sustainable City generate savings of up to 50% on water and electricity bills. The city also runs a wide range of programs to educate residents about sustainable living, which include raising awareness about conserving water and adapting simple yet effective water-saving practices.

In addition, the city has a smart irrigation system for real-time monitoring of soil humidity levels and water consumption. Villas are equipped with water meters to track water usage in real-time using the smart home automation system, and have low-flow water fixtures to reduce unnecessary water consumption.

Spearheading such a sustainable movement is not easy – it is only through unwavering collaboration, sharing knowledge and building capacities that we can succeed in creating an eco-conscious community that will ensure an abundant future for our precious water resources, and Sharjah Sustainable City shows the perfect pathway to achieve that goal.