As part of its ‘Because We Care’ initiative and the ongoing ‘Earth Week’ activities, Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) organised the ‘World Water Day’ conference in Sharjah Aquarium. The event is in line with SMD’s commitment to promote clean water for a healthy world and focus public attention to protect water resources and habitats.
“Our planet’s water supplies are impacted adversely by population growth, unsustainable consumption patterns, poor management practices, pollution and inadequate investment in infrastructure. Clean water is integral to life, health and sustainability,” said Manal Ataya, Director General, SMD.
“Partnerships between governments, international organizations, private businesses and civil society are crucial to finding common solutions for enhancing water use efficiency. Marking The World Water Day is an important opportunity for highlighting the scope of the challenge and for strengthening these partnerships and together with our communities we can all start to take steps towards positive change,” added Manal.
The conference focused on the importance of water and water-related concerns faced by the UAE and ways to enhance water use efficiency. The speakers at the conference included Engineer Ghada Juma Salim, Water Conservation Section at Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA); Jeremy Byatt, Director- Environmental Responsibility in Bee’ah and Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director from Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wildlife Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF).
In his opening remarks, Kerwin Porter, Curator of Sharjah Aquarium said: “More than one billion people lack safe, clean drinking water. Millions of people are afflicted with water-borne diseases, and millions more are malnourished, primarily because there isn't enough water to grow their crops. Fresh water animal and plant species are among the most endangered on the planet, mainly due to human pollution and exploitation of natural habitats. Water is life and it must be protected and conserved for future generations.”
Miss Razan from EWS/WWF presented an illustration depicting the UAE’s changing water story over time and discussed the UAE’s current water source, its impact on the environment, and the relation between water, energy, climate change and our ecological footprint. She also presented some simple water saving tips to reduce water consumption.
Jeremy Byatt from Bee’ah presented an overview of water and waste production in Sharjah, and the impact of urban waste on marine life. He said that contamination denies clean water supplies to some 3.3 billion globally while marine waste affects 267 animal species causing death through ingestion, starvation, suffocation and entanglement. “The United Nations estimates that some 6.4 million tonnes of waste is thrown into the oceans annually, and globally plastic accounts for some 60 to 80 per cent of the waste in oceans.”
Ghada Juma Salim from SEWA discussed the reasons behind the current water crisis, the importance of water, energy and electricity consumption, and efficient ways of enhancing cooperation between government departments and corporations in Sharjah to strengthen awareness among the community for individual action towards a common goal of conserving water.
In co-ordination with the British Council, the conference also hosted the regional premiere screening of the acclaimed documentary on climate change, “The Age of Stupid’.
On March 22, 1993, the United Nations declared the day as World Water Day and the theme for 2010 is Clean Water for a Healthy World. According to IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, every year some 1,500 cubic kilometres of wastewater are produced globally. While waste and wastewater can be reused productively for energy and irrigation, it usually is not. In developing countries 80 per cent of all waste is being discharged untreated due to lack of regulations and resources. Population and industrial growth add new sources of pollution and add to demand for clean water.
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