UAE says energy challenges are 'upmost priority'

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Energy, water and food challenges remain an "upmost priority" for the UAE as its demands could double by 2030, a senior government official has said.

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the director of Energy and Climate Affairs, UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the UAE was attaching "great importance" to addressing the nation's challenges.

His remarks were made during a panel discussion at the World Energy Congress, currently taking place in Daegu, South Korea, news agency WAM reported.

The UAE faces unique challenges with regards to water scarcity, due to a shortage of reliable surface and fresh water sources and less than 100mm of rain water per year.

In addition, a population increase of 300 percent in the last 15 years and the prospect of energy demands doubling by 2030 due to a fast-growing economy are placing additional pressure on energy and natural resources.

Speaking about the UAE's policy approach, Dr Al Zeyoudi said: "The UAE attaches great importance to the issue of energy-water-food nexus.

"We are addressing the challenges of nexus management in many ways, namely by increasing energy and water efficiency and productivity, diversifying our resources, and adopting appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks.

"Our new desalination plants for example are built to the highest efficiency standards, in fact - we recently launched the region's first renewable desalination pilot project, aimed at dramatically reducing the amount of power we consume to produce potable water."

Speaking about the UAE's work to ensure food security and reduce intensive farming practices through education, Dr Al Zeyoudi added: "We are working on informing farmers about alternatives to using energy-and water-intensive irrigation systems and crops, and encouraging use of treated water for irrigation."

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