“Over 80% of the world’s wastewater is released to environment without treatment,” the UN World Water Development Report 2017 reads. On this year’s World Water Day themed around “Why Waste Water,” ESCWA hosted on 22 March 2017 a ceremony in Amman under the auspices of Jordanian Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazim El Naser, in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Arab Countries Water Utilities Association (ACWUA) and the Swedish government.
The conference, which was moderated by ESCWA Sustainable Development Policies Division (SDPD) Director Roula Majdalani, plunged into safe treatment of wastewater at the global and regional levels as well as the national level of Kuwait.
UNESCO Senior Programme Specialist in Water Science Bisher Iman tackled the global perspective on wastewater and highlighted that “the quantity of wastewater produced and its overall pollution load are increasing worldwide,” while stressing on the cost efficiency of healthy ecosystems and on the need for proper legislations. According to him, “at least 11 out of 22 Arab States have adopted legislation permitting the use of treated wastewater.”
Diving further into the regional perspective, ESCWA SDPD Water Resources Section Chief Carol Chouchani shared with the participants precise numbers and statistics on the collection and safe treatment of wastewater in the region in 2013, and tackled the challenges facing most of the countries as well as the responses implemented, including the Arab Strategy for Water Security in the Arab Region to Meet the Challenges and Future Needs for Sustainable Development 2010-2030.
For her part, Director of Water Networks Projects at the Ministry of Electricity and Water of Kuwait and member of ESCWA Committee on Water Resources Maha Al-Mansour shared the practices adopted at the Sulaibiya Wastewater Treatment and Reclamation Plant in Kuwait.
During the ceremony, the 2017 World Water Development Report entitled “Wastewater: the Untapped Resource,” as well as “the Wastewater booklet: an Arab Perspective” were launched. The booklet showcases how wastewater is being increasingly viewed as a water resource by Arab States to help overcome water scarcity constraints.
“Being one of the lucky people born in a rich and free country, I have the moral obligation to realise that not everyone has had the same luck as me. Every day in this region and around the world people are struggling to access clean water,” Swedish Ambassador to Jordan Erik Ullenhag pointed out in his opening statement. He later added: “The world really needs to work together to meet probably the biggest challenge of our time.”