The second edition of the International Conference on Sustainable Energy-Water-Environment Nexus in Desert Climates (ICSEWEN21) opened with a high-level plenary session on November 22. The biennial conference is the flagship event of the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU).
The plenary speeches were delivered by HE Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Chairman of The Al-Attiyah Foundation; HE Eng. Essa bin Hilal Al-Kuwari, President of KAHRAMAA; and HE Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, Chairman of the Joint Advisory Board of Texas A&M University at Qatar and former Minister of Energy and Industry.
HBKU was represented by Dr. Ahmad M. Hasnah, HBKU President; Dr. Richard O’Kennedy, Vice President for Research, Development, and Innovation at Qatar Foundation, and Vice President for Research at HBKU; and Dr. Marc Vermeersch, Executive Director at QEERI. The conference's opening was held in a hybrid format with a live-streamed and in-person inaugural ceremony, which was attended by ambassadors and CEOs, as well as directors of organizations, scientists, engineers, students, and stakeholders from Qatar and the world.
In his address, HE Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah noted that the conference provides a platform for experts and stakeholders in the Energy-Water-Environment Nexus to highlight crucial research being conducted.
He said: “Energy depends on water for generation, extraction, transport, and processing - and the entire water system, from production to treatment to distribution, requires energy. At the same time, increasing water and energy requirements have significant effects on the natural environment. Therefore, it is imperative that we address the interdependencies … in order to achieve sustainability goals.”
He added that the challenges in managing the interdependencies may vary from one region to another, but are more complex in desert climates such as the Gulf, where countries depend on expensive and energy-intensive water desalination processes.
HE Eng. Essa bin Hilal Al-Kuwari said: “KAHRAMAA is pleased to be the strategic partner of ICSEWEN21 and QEERI. The increasing demand for water and energy - with the ongoing developments in Qatar - has made it important to understand their interdependence. Also, it becomes vital to study the Energy-Water-Environment Nexus which can effectively contribute to meeting these demands if well planned.
“At KAHRAMAA, we understand this, and we are adopting both regulatory and other means to implement the nexus approach. This is done through three main pillars: Governance, Technical, and Community.”
Underlining QEERI’s focus on sustainability, Dr. Vermeersch said: “These are global realities that stare us in the face and are no longer isolated issues relevant to countries like Qatar, or others in the region. As a leader in applied research, QEERI aims to foster a very strong culture in research, development, and innovation. Through our institute’s seven pillars, we strive to join forces with leaders in policy, research, industry, and academia, to bring practical and meaningful solutions that will make a significant difference.”
Dr. Jenny Lawler, ICSEWEN21 Chairperson, echoed the same view and said: “Bringing together experts from different fields enables a multi-perspective discussion, which can lead to building more effective solutions to the challenges we face today. The idea of collaborative efforts is at the core of ICSEWEN21, and we are grateful to our partners and sponsors for their support in making this event a success.”
ICSEWEN21 is supported by KAHRAMAA and The Al-Attiyah Foundation as Strategic Partner and Knowledge Partner, respectively. The conference’s collaborators include Vodafone Qatar (Gold Sponsor), Enbat Holdings (Wellness Partner), and Qatar Scientific Club (Community Partner). Qatar National Research Fund and Rosneft are also supporting the event.
The conference continues until November 24. Proceedings are being streamed live over a virtual conferencing platform and will witness some of the highest quality scientific contributions focused around the Energy-Water-Environment Nexus. Registration for the virtual sessions is still open at https://www.hbku.edu.qa/en/qeeri/ICSEWEN21/registration