UNDP celebrates World Environment Day by presenting the World Water Development Report 2015 and hosting a photography exhibition on the environment

Jun 5, 2015

The Gendal Forest is located north of Farasan Island. It is a loop-root mangrove forest with intertwining waterways and gulfs that offer a beautiful, scenic place for visitors (Photo: Khaled Zaroq)

The planet will be facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030, unless nations dramatically improve the management of this precious resource. This is the unavoidable conclusion reached in the 2015 United Nations World Water Development Report, which was presented during the World Environment Day event held by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ministry of Water and Electricity.

The event also included a photography exhibition titled “Water for Life”, exhibiting the work of three Saudi photographers, who travelled throughout the Kingdom.

The exhibition presented twenty-three images from different parts of the Kingdom such as Riyadh, Jazan, Farasan Island and Hail. The photographers who participated with their work are Khaled Zaroq, Awadh Al Hamzani and Dhafer Al Shehri. By exhibiting the work of the three photographers, UNDP Saudi Arabia is aiming to raise more awareness on water scarcity and the dangers and effects on the country, and how to contribute towards protecting the environment. Alongside, highlighting the challenges of climate change and biodiversity protection in the Kingdom.

The World Environment Day (WED), the UN's principal vehicle to encourage worldwide awareness and action for the environment, is celebrated around the world on 5 June with a call to governments, communities and individuals to improve their consumption patterns.

This year's theme, 'Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care', encourages people to rethink their lifestyles and, through conscious consumer decisions, decrease humanity's collective impact on nature's resources.

The event began with opening remarks by Ashok Nigam, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, in Saudi Arabia who said

“Saudi Arabia has its own environmental challenges with its arid climate conditions and sporadic rain. Therefore, water sustainability is critically important. The National Water Strategy that was developed by the Ministry of Water and Electricity stated that Saudi Arabia is probably the largest country in the world with no perennial rivers; but because of the geological history of its territory it has important groundwater resources.”

He said that “Achieving sustainability, requires not only production but also conservation and efficiency in water use.   In a highly water scarce region, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest per capita consumption rates in the world…. So whatever people can do to ‘Conserve Water’ saves valuable resources for use in other economic and social development efforts.  Beyond costs, conservation makes good sense.  We need to inculcate in people, particularly children and young people, who will inherit the land and influence future generations, that water conservation makes good sense and this is nowhere more true than in Saudi Arabia with this limited natural and replenishable resources.  As the adage goes “Waste not, want not”.

The United Nations Secretary-General in his message on World Environment Day 2015, said “The goal of sustainable development is to increase the quality of life for all people without increasing environmental degradation, and without compromising the resource needs of future generations. We can do this by shifting our consumption patterns towards goods that use less energy, water and other resources, and by wasting less food.

In this year of transformation, when we hope to see great advances on sustainable development and climate change, let us celebrate World Environment Day by becoming more conscious of our ecological impact. Let us think about the environmental consequences of the choices we make. Let us become better stewards of our planet,” He stated.

The Deputy Minister for Water, Dr. Mohammed Al-Saud highlighted how important it is to raise more awareness to preserve water. “We have come a long way in implementing the National Water Strategy. The price of desalinated water to the consumer has decreased compared with the cost of production,” he said.

According to the National Water Strategy by the Ministry of Water and Electricity, the climatic conditions in Saudi Arabia are dominantly arid, rainfall is not only low but sporadic as well, rarely exceeding the 50-100 mm range of annual precipitation. As a result of these harsh climatic conditions, KSA is probably the largest country in the world with no perennial rivers; but because of the geological history of its territory it has important groundwater resources.

During the event the World Water Development Report 2015 was presented. The report demonstrates how water resources and services are essential to achieving global sustainability. The report provides a comprehensive overview of major and emerging trends from around the world, with examples of how some of the trend‐related challenges have been addressed, their implications for policy‐makers, and further actions that can be taken by stakeholders and the international community.

It is worth mentioning that UNDP Saudi Arabia has a capacity development project for Sustainable Development and Management of Water Resources with the Ministry of Water and Electricity. The project aims to strengthen the technical and organizational capacities of MOWE in sustainable development and management of the Kingdom’s water resources.  

Contact information

For media inquiries, please contact:

Laura Bashraheel, Communications Associate, UNDP Saudi Arabia

Tel: +966 1 488-5301 Ext.343   Fax: +966 (1) 488-5309 

e-mail: laura.bashraheel@undp.org