Enabling Cities of the Future with Water
If there is anything that water has taught every generation, it is the fact that water is dangerous when it is scarce and equally threatening when it is overly abundant. So, how do we enable smart cities without risking this valuable resource?
Water is central to today’s smart cities. Thus, we need it to ensure that every living thing continues to thrive on this planet. For organizations, doing so is not just a business imperative. It is our social responsibility.
On the brink of water stress
Based on World Economic Forum's latest report, 70% of the world’s cities are already experiencing water stress. If we continue with our usual operations, without any sustainable plans in practice, 45 cities with each over 3 million residents are projected to face extreme high-water stress by 2030. Give it another 15 years, and by 2050, the number of urban dwellers dealing with chronic shortages will be over 1 billion.
It is obvious: as our demand for water supply increases, we put our society at even more risk. Our strong desire to meet those demands results into yet another crisis: water-related disasters.
Threats of over-abundance
Scarcity is a well-known water crisis, but overabundance can be equally concerning to our thriving smart cities. According to the United Nations, water-related disasters such as floods, landslides, and storms are compounding in frequency and severity for the past 20 years. Since 2000, flood-related disasters have increased by 134% - which resulted in the loss of life across urban and rural areas, damage to other natural resources and infrastructure, and infectious disease outbreaks.
Unfortunately, the water crises that we are facing right now are in no way slowing down. Population growth, climate change, and linear economic practices are further exacerbating these detrimental impacts.
A circular water economy
Our rapidly-evolving world demands an equally dynamic model for water usage. We need to perceive every resource – including water – as a finite source that we need to reuse as much as possible. This notion makes the answer to our water crisis clear: we need to shift to a circular water economy.
Public and private organizations play a huge part in making a circular society possible. Government leaders collaborated with local and international corporations to pioneer initiatives for optimizing the sustainable use of water resources.
United Arab Emirates. The UAE utilizes hydroponic farms which yield 20 times more food and use 90% less water vs. traditional farming. The Emirates also uses membrane desalination, reducing the energy to produce clean water from seawater to 2.5 kw/m3, compared to the usual 12 to 18 kw/m3.
The Netherlands. Rotterdam hospitals are filtering medicine residues from wastewater and using these residues to generate biogas energy. Amsterdam is recovering phosphates from urine and fecal material as eco-friendly fertilizers vs. synthetic alternatives that cause more harm to waterways.
Germany. The country uses blue-green infrastructure to offset urban heating in islands. The Potsdamer Platz in Berlin is one example, where it uses green roofs, buffer ponds, and stormwater cisterns, which results in a reduction in summer temperatures by 2°C.
China. Shanghai remodeled its urban-drainage strategy by deploying sponge city districts. These cities store vast amounts of stormwater, which is considered as a cheaper alternative to previous solutions.
These initiatives are indeed huge milestones in paving our path for a smarter and more sustainable future. For businesses, these programs stand as blueprints to redesign and rethink the way we use water across the entire value chain.
Upcoming conferences in the region
For us not to lose momentum in making significant strides toward a circular water economy, we must keep the conversation going and drive sustainable innovations within our cities. Upcoming conferences and events in the region will serve as great opportunities to achieve these priorities.
COP28. The 28th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) known as COP28 is an international platform for achieving sustainable action towards climate change. The event will be from 6 to 17 November 2023 at Expo City Dubai, UAE.
GITEX Impact. Launched during GITEX GLOBAL 2022, this ESG event is the largest multi-stakeholder technology gathering to discuss breakthrough innovations in climate technologies and implementing sustainable business models. The event will be on 10-12 May 2023 at Dubai World Trade Centre.
World Utilities Congress. The World Utilities Congress is a global platform to explore the latest and sustainable technologies, solutions, and research advancements for the power and utilities industry. The event will be on 8-10 May 2023 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).
WETEX 2023 and Dubai Solar Show. The WETEX and Dubai Solar Show are annual events that focus on the latest trends in energy and water conservation and the best practices for saving natural resources. These events will be on 2-4 October 2023 at Dubai World Trade Centre.
For our smart cities, a circular approach to water is the best way forward. To make this endeavor successful, we must start now and leverage technologies and solutions to solve the water crisis. Together, we can face this problem head on and build a better tomorrow for our society.
Eager to find out more about water management practices and models? Read more about the latest enterprise technology, innovation, and sustainable industry practices at CXO Connect ME.
Waves. Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/Jo6CYYLe3fw
Building. Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/eWSh-bkaKU8