Crisis-resilient Water Policies: What can the United Arab Emirates take from the Australian model?
Water is arguably the most important resource for life. For this, it is essential to manage and regulate this resource through policies. It is believed that water policies become sidelined and de-prioritised over time, especially as crises unfold. This is believed to have happened in Abu-Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates when a simple conservation measure was abandoned for unannounced reasons which are predicted to have arisen following the Arab Spring. With water-tight conditions, the UAE cannot afford to compromise its water management policies, and therefore the need for resilient policies is necessitated.
Crises may instigate social, economic and/or environmental disorder in a defined region. Such situations threaten the sustenance of regional water policies either through the lack of funds, or a radical change in politics. In addition to being pro-active and mitigative, resilient policies need to be environmentally-friendly, economically sustainable and socially agreeable. This interplay is depicted in the Australian water reform especially through the introduction and regulation of water markets. Australia is acknowledged to have developed exemplar water policies throughout its reforms which helped derive lessons for the UAE. Among many lessons, it is emphasized that the UAE needs to capitalise in stakeholder engagement, a currently overlooked characteristic in its policy-making platform, in order to further the resilience of policies especially in the water sector.