Center Director’s Newsletter Message, Issue # 4

Message For 2016

Three weeks ago the World Economic Forum declared that water crises pose the single most significant global risk for the coming decade. For those of us working in the international water sector, this comes as no surprise. The search for solutions to fresh water scarcity has never been more important.  The need for collaboration between industry, government and the academy has never been more urgent. Our collective response to date though, has simply not been good enough.

At MEDRC we are trying to play our part. At our recent MEDRC workshop on mainstreaming renewables for desalination, researchers from KAUST in Saudi Arabia, QEERI in Qatar and CIEMAT in Spain as well as from MEDRC, looked at a series of case studies and new technologies that offer potential to minimize carbon footprint of desalination. The research projects we are supporting are, more than ever, focused on renewable and sustainable technologies.

The first phase of our HABS project to develop and early warning system for Harmful Algae Blooms is now complete and I want to recognize the support of USAID and the MENANWC in making the project happen. Initiatives like these, that protect biodiversity and security of water supply, are crucial. We hope, in 2016, to begin a second phase of the project which will see an even greater involvement of local partners.

This month we continue our Palestinian technical assistance activities with a series of technical and research support visits to Gaza. This builds on our recent similar work in the Jordan Valley and these will continue through 2016.

These development cooperation activities are only made possible with excellent in-house technical and academic capacity. In a few short years we have been able to expand the MEDRC Continuous Professional Education & Training to a stage where it is now globally unrivalled. Today we are providing desalination training and technical support from absolute entry level for farmers and school-leavers right up to the advanced design and operation of mega-plants. In 2016 we will bolster that capacity with a series of events to bring major plant operators together and presentations of both commercially available and cutting-edge near-commercial technologies.

The quest for solutions to fresh water scarcity, particularly across borders, is complex and difficult. We welcome all suggestions, proposals for partnerships and ideas on how we can fulfil our mission better. In 2015 MEDRC was overwhelmed by the assistance we have received from universities, individual researchers, companies and member states. Through 2016 we want to put that great network to work use on the shared challenge of water even more.