While the drivers provide exciting racing on the course, Extreme E targets a wider impact off the course by supporting the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
On World Water Day, the sport for purpose Championship highlights the sixth Global Goal – the availability and sustainable management of water.
The climate focus for the season opening Desert X Prix in NEOM, Saudi Arabia, was water. Water marks a vital resource and infrastructure for the future inhabitants of the sustainable, urban development of NEOM. While it is a crucial source of life and energy, it is also essential that water is managed carefully.
Gavin Van Tonder, Head of Water for NEOM, added: “Water demand has now outstripped water supply, and people that live in areas where they have fresh water do not realise that. Approximately 4% of freshwater now comes from desalination and that is only going to grow in the future.
Worldwide, 80% of wastewater is returned to our environment into freshwater resources, of which only 60% is treated. This is meaning we are polluting our own freshwater resources, that are already scarce and must stop. At NEOM, we will be developing the first fully renewable and sustainable water network.”
Some sources of water are finite. The groundwater in the Sahara, also known as aquifers, accumulated over 100,000 years ago and this is a source of water where extraction far exceeds recharge.
In dryland areas, such as the Arabian deserts, water either must come out of aquifers or from a desalination plant. Aquifers are an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or rock fractures from which water can be extracted using a water well. The process behind desalination is the treatment of seawater to remove the salt, creating freshwater to be utilised by a population, and this is how NEOM will sustainably manage water supplies.
In this spirit, Extreme E has embarked on numerous initiatives with sustainable water management at their heart throughout Season 1.
For the Arctic X Prix, Extreme E not only highlighted the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet, which threatens sustainable sea levels, but also provided a platform for scientific research. This boosted essential data banks that are critical to our understanding of the world underwater.
Ahead of the Enel X Island X Prix, the sport for purpose Championship supported MEDSEA in the restoration and conservation of Posidonia oceanica – seagrass – which is the most important ecosystem in the Mediterranean.
Richard Washington, Head of the Scientific Committee and Extreme E’s Desert Expert, said: “Water defines the dryland regions of the planet. In drylands, there is more evaporation than rainfall, meaning that water is a valuable but very scarce resource. Climate change is putting more heat into the climate system which in turn causes the circulation to change.
“The frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall events have increased since the 1950s over most land areas and human-induced climate change is likely the main driver. Human-induced climate change has also contributed to increases in agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions.
“Regardless, increases in temperature will create changes in water availability even if rainfall were to stay the same because warmer temperatures cause more evaporation.”
Moving forward, it is essential that the sustainable management of water is not just about conservation but about improving liveability by enhancing the environment, and Extreme E will continue to support innovation in this area.