UAE President Sheikh Mohamed launches $150 million plan to address global water scarcity

Partnership announced between Mohamed bin Zayed Water Initiative and XPRIZE
UAE President Sheikh Mohamed launches $150 million plan to address global water scarcity
Part of the launching ceremony (Photo Credit: WAM)

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, witnessed today the announcement of a collaboration between the Mohamed bin Zayed Water Initiative and XPRIZE. This partnership involves a $150 million investment to launch the XPRIZE Water Scarcity competition, which offers a total prize purse of $119 million.

Over the course of five years, this global competition aims to inspire innovators worldwide to focus on improving the reliability, affordability, and sustainability of water desalination technologies.

Read more: Zayed Sustainability Prize adds climate action category, winner gets $600K

Raising the importance of water scarcity

The Mohamed bin Zayed Water Initiative is committed to raising awareness of water scarcity on the international stage. Its goal is also to accelerate the development, testing, and widespread implementation of transformative and sustainable technological solutions that can effectively address the threats posed by water scarcity to individuals, businesses, and communities worldwide. By working alongside its partners, the initiative seeks to leverage targeted investment, accelerated technological innovation, and expanded international cooperation to tackle this increasingly pressing challenge.

global water scarcity
Part of the launching ceremony. (Photo Credit: WAM)

Urgent need for new solutions

Commenting on the launch of the Mohamed bin Zayed Water Initiative and XPRIZE partnership announcement, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Mohamed bin Zayed Water Initiative, said, “The solutions that currently exist to address the water scarcity crisis are not sufficient to prevent a range of unacceptable scenarios from occurring. New solutions are therefore urgently required, and the Mohamed bin Zayed Water Initiative is committed to collaborating with stakeholders from around the world to uncover these new ideas, to prove their viability, and to bring them to fruition as efficiently as possible.”

Prominent figures in attendance

Moreover, The partnership announcement ceremony took place at the historic Niqa Bin Ateej Water Tank and was attended by various dignitaries, including H.H. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Office of Development and Martyrs Families Affairs at the Presidential Court; Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, advisor for Special Affairs at the Presidential Court; Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, minister of Industry and Advanced Technology; Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi, minister of Investment; Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority and member of the Executive Council. Additionally, several sheikhs, ministers, and senior officials.

Key factors contributing to water scarcity

Furthermore, global water scarcity is a rapidly escalating problem that affects people and communities worldwide. Studies have shown that up to four billion people experience water scarcity for at least one month per year. The causes of this growing water scarcity are diverse and include factors such as population growth, demographic changes, infrastructure and governance challenges, environmental pollution, and climate change. If effective measures are not taken, the consequences of global water scarcity could be devastating, leading to loss of life, humanitarian crises, food insecurity, mass migration, geopolitical instability, and even armed conflicts over water. Moreover, governments, the private sector, researchers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, international organizations, and individuals all have crucial roles to play in mitigating the wide-ranging impacts of water scarcity.

global water scarcity
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. (Photo Credit: WAM)

Significance of international cooperation in addressing water scarcity

The establishment of the Mohamed bin Zayed Water Initiative is part of a broader effort led by the UAE to address global water scarcity. Furthermore, this effort includes the publication of a comprehensive discussion paper in September 2023, titled “Ripple Effect: Water Scarcity – The Hidden Threat to Global Security and Prosperity.”

The discussion paper, which is still available for download from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, serves as a global call to action, urging a more decisive and coordinated international response to this worsening issue.

Peter H. Diamandis, MD, founder and executive chairman of the Board, XPRIZE, said, “XPRIZE Water Scarcity is a global call to scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to convert water scarcity into water abundance by using converging exponential technologies to address this critical global need. XPRIZE Water Scarcity, our largest competition to date, is a first of its kind focused on creating new desalination solutions to unlock Earth’s ocean water to clean water for all, in an equitable and sustainable fashion.”

The partnership with the XPRIZE Foundation, a renowned organization that designs, launches, and implements large-scale competitions to tackle humanity’s most pressing challenges, aims to foster innovation by incentivizing crowd-sourced, scientifically viable solutions. The goal is to create a future that is more equitable and abundant for all.

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