Science Target Conference Systems, Ajman 4th International Environment Conference 2016

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Water security and sustainability in the context of climate change
Ashantha Goonetilleke

Last modified: 2015-11-03


Water is central to human well-being and the economic and social development of a country. Unfortunately, in terms of water supply, GCC countries are particularly vulnerable. Factors such as climate change impacts and escalating demand gives rise to uncertainties in the operating environment, compromising water security. Additionally, the arid environment and very limited freshwater resources are further compounding factors. Consequently, from a geopolitical context, national security can be undermined.

This paper presents an innovative approach to assess the sustainability of supply, and the inbuilt adaptive potential of relevant infrastructure systems, to enable the adoption of innovative strategies to ensure water supply resilience. The approach contextualises a water supply system as a meta-system which can be disaggregated to form a cascade of empirical equations. This allows the exploration of relationships between various system components, influential factors and the incorporation of explicit disturbances to understand system behaviour. This will facilitate the investigation of ‘what if’ scenarios and long-term decision making to achieve sustainable solutions.

The approach presented allows the entire supply system to be evaluated including all of its subsystems in relation to its ability to supply water under a range of pressure scenarios. A further innovation is that the adaptation of the concept of resilience to a water supply system in an arid environment has not previously been investigated. The significance of this approach lies in the potential to strengthen sustainable development and to enhance water security and it turn, national security.