Water Security Agenda
Water is life and one of the cheapest sourece of energy. At the closing of the 31th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit, persided by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the council jointly announced a comperhensive plan to cope with the deciling levels of water which is indeed one of the biggest regional challenges. United Arab Emirates has now become president of the GCC and it is detrmined to take effective policy initatives about the water security.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, reaffirmied that the focus of the GCC in the next year would primarily include water security, removing obstacles to the Gulf’s proposed customs union, and negotiating free trade agreements with other blocs of countries. Abdul Rahman al Atiyyah the outgoing secretary general of the GCC states also endorsed the importance of water security, diversifaction of energy resources and food security for the socio-economic propserity of the regional countries. He outlined the plan of water security.
(a) Reduction of the carbon footprint of GCC states, measured as among the highest in the world.
(b) Concrete steps to build a long-term strategy for water security
(c) Strong commitment to combating climate change.
(d) Study of the multidimensional effects of the climate change especially on the regional water reservoirs.
(e) Elimination in the effects of desalination on marine life and climate change.
(f) Revision of the national and regional standards that would limit the carbon footprint of the energy and water sectors, as well as the carbon footprint of individual homes.
(g) To increase efficiency and support research results studies in order to make energy and water production more efficient.
(h) Preparations of the draft legislation that would mandate improving the efficiency of the associated industries.
(i) Promotion of the water conservation.
(j) Enhance public awareness about the domestic usage of water.
(k) Improvement in the regional desalination plants by funding research and buying new desalination technology.
(l) Introduction of new efficiency standards for home appliances.
(m) More focus on the regional agriculture sector and try to promote environmentally friendly farming practices like hydroponic farming.
The above mentioned salient features of the water security agenda clearly indicate the determination of all the six countries of the GCC to cope with the emerging threats of human survival in the region in the shape of increasing incidents of climate change, declining ratios of water, low level of agro-production and the last but not the least food security.
31th Gulf Cooperation Council was held in Abu Dhabi on 6-7 December. The leaders discussed thoroughly on different national, regional and international emerging trends in socio-economy, politics and geo-strategic. They spelled out different laws, regulations and strategies to achieve the desired goals of the GCC formation. In the concluding statement the leaders of the GCC states showed their deep concerns about the emerging geo-political and geo-strategic scenarios in Arab Gulf and the Middle East and chalked out their short and long term policy initiatives to counter them successfully.
At the 31th GCC summit concluding session the leaders once again reassured their commitments and extension of humanitarian assistance to the government and people of Pakistan. They also appealed to international community to support the people of Pakistan in order to alleviate their sufferings caused by the recent deadly flood in the country.
2. Regional Cooperation in the fields of security
They stressed the need to have closed cooperation in the fields of security, defence/military, intelligence information sharing, and the last but not the least peaceful nuclear energy cooperation among the GCC states. They reaffirmed their commitments to be transparent, open and fair to international regulatory bodies i.e. IAEA for the implementation and execution of their peaceful nuclear energy programs in the region. The leaders emphasized the importance of having joint defence/military cooperation and mechanism in all the GCC states in order to prepare themselves for any geo-strategic threats.
3. Importance of Socio-Economic Development
The leaders also emphasized the importance of socio-economic development not confined only to heath, education, environment, climate change, water conservation and employment generation. They also reviewed the importance of certain specifications and standards in each field of the regional national economies respectively.
4. Mega Infrastructural Development
The GCC concluding statement also mentioned the different useful proposals of the participating states and discussed thoroughly their collective benefits. They featured the importance of infrastructure and approved the mega projects of railways, electrification, trade & commerce, science and technology and cultural cooperation and collaboration among the GCC states.
5. Terrorism and Extremism
They showed deep concerns about the terrorism, extremism and violence and proposed certain effective policy tools to combat terrorism by enhancing capacity building measures, information sharing, training, technological innovation, and moreover, establishment of international anti-terrorist center. They also emphasized the need to further strengthening of inter-faith harmony and continued dialogue between the civilizations in order to make better understanding about the diversified cultures and religions.
6. Human Resources
In the 31th GCC Summit the leaders focused on the industrialization and best utilization of available human resources in the GCC states. The leaders discussed GCC-EU socio-economic bilateral relations and prospects of having free trade agreement with it.
7. Importance of Maritime Piracy
The GCC concluding statement also spelled out the importance of maritime piracy and stressed the need to have mutual naval cooperation among the GCC states.
8. UAE Islands
The important geo-political regional issues were also featured in the concluding statement of the 31th GCC Summit. They condemned the continued occupation of three UAE islands i.e. The Greater Tunb, The Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa by Iran and demanded the return of these islands under its full sovereignty, including their regional waters, airspace, continental shelf and their exclusive economic zone, as integral parts of the United Arab Emirates. He called upon the international community to urge Iran to respond to the peaceful and sincere initiatives of the United Arab Emirates, which call for a just settlement of this issue, either through direct and serious negotiations between the two countries or by referring the issue to the International Court of Justice to settle this dispute in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter and provisions of international law.
9. Free Zone of Weapons of Mass Destruction
They reiterated their principled position which calls for making the Gulf Region and the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons. They called upon Israel to implement the resolution adopted by Parties of the Treaty to join the NPT unconditionally. They also urged Iran to fully cooperate with the IAEA and the international community in order to assuage regional and international fears and doubts raised on its nuclear program.
10. Solidarity with Iraq
The GCC leaders reassured their countries commitments for the progress and prosperity of the people of Iraq through comprehensive national reconciliation without any discrimination. They also reiterated the necessity to respect the territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence of Iraq, and furthermore, safeguarding its Arab and Islamic identity.
11. Palestine- Israel issue
On the issue of Palestine- Israel issue the leaders stressed the need to have peaceful resolution of the issue by ending the Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian and other Arab Territories and its withdrawal to the line of 4 June 1967, including East Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights and the remaining occupied territories in Southern Lebanon, in order to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy. They pledged the GCC states support to the Palestinian National Authority and its people. They also demanded the stop of Israel settlement policy which caused many dimensional repercussions in the region.
The GCC declared their states support to the efforts of the Lebanese government towards achieving security, stability and national unity and called for respecting the sovereignty of the Lebanese state and for ceasing the repeated Israeli violations of the Lebanese airspace, waters, territories and regional safety in accordance with the Security Council Resolution 1701.
On the issue of Yemen they showed their commitments towards the security and stability of Yemen and its territorial integrity and safety. They urged the international community to stand by the government of Yemen and extend to it the necessary assistance and support.