Saudi Arabia has launched an international body that will fund and promote water sustainability projects in developing nations. Riyadh warned that world water consumption is set to double in the coming decades. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the initiative on Monday, with the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) noting that the new Riyadh-based Global Water Organization plans to “exchange expertise, advance technology, foster innovation, and share research and development experiences” in the fields of water and sanitation.

“By initiating the establishment of the organization, Saudi Arabia emphasizes its commitment to addressing global water supply challenges” the SPA said, adding that the agency would “promote the establishment and funding of high-priority projects, ensuring the sustainability of water resources and their accessibility for everyone.”

Though Riyadh has allocated some $6 billion to water projects around the world, the government said it hopes to collaborate with other countries facing “water-related challenges,” going on to cite projections that the global water demand will double by 2050. It added that it would also look to work alongside nations with “significant expertise and contributions to water solutions,” though did not mention any partners by name.

The Gulf kingdom has embarked on a number of sustainability projects in recent years. The crown prince announced last November that Saudi Arabia would contribute $2.5 billion to the Middle East Green Initiative over the next decade. Endorsed by Russia, China, the US, and a number of other nations, the environmental effort seeks regional cooperation on reducing carbon emissions in an effort to fight climate change.

According to findings by the United Nations published in March, around 2 billion people currently lack access to safe drinking water – or 26% of the world’s population – while between 2 and 3 billion face water scarcity for at least one month out of the year. Another 3.6 billion do not enjoy proper sanitation services, the UN said, warning the problems will only worsen in the future with “the growing incidence of extreme and prolonged droughts.”

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By mrtrv