Better availability and sharing of environmental data between the Gulf states is among the recommendations contained in a "Blue Paper" released on 18 July 2011 by the International Desalination Association (IDA).
The result of 12 months work carried out by the IDA's global Environmental Task Force (ETF), the Blue Paper also reflects the findings of its symposium Desalination and the Gulf: The Relationship between the Environment and Meeting the Region's Water Needs held in Bahrain in December 2010.
The symposium, which attracted around 200 delegates, and the Blue Paper are intended to minimize potential environmental effects from desalination in the Gulf.
"It is impossible to overstate the importance of a healthy sea to the region's growing populations and economies that rely on it for the majority of their water resources," said Lisa Henthorne, IDA director and co-chair of the ETF. "It is our fervent hope that all governments and stakeholders in the region will work together in an inclusive process, and that this Blue Paper helps shape a platform for action to safeguard the environmental well-being of the Gulf for future generations."
Key findings from the Blue Paper include:
It was suggested that the ETF should explore ways in which IDA could initiate the funding of a scientific database, working with the desalination and industry and financial institutions to provide the necessary support. As an alternative, IDA could act as a clearinghouse for information, with a third-party technical assessor and systems auditor having responsibilities to the wider sector.
"Just as the desalination industry has stepped forward to address environmental concerns, it is up to all other industries that use the Gulf to share in the responsibility for its well-being," said Henthorne, who indicated that these industries include oil and gas, power generation and shipping, among others.
The full Blue Paper will be available for download on IDA's website.