The aspects of the Nexus regional programme implementation discussed in Ashgabat

Photo: Ahat YUSUPOV

With the organizational support of the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, the Inter-Agency working group of the Nexus regional project held the first meeting in Ashgabat. The main objective of the Project is the development of a multi-sector enabling environment to facilitate sustainable and climate-resilient investments for increased water, energy, food security in Central Asia.

In Central Asia, the work of the project is coordinated by the Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia (CAREC) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) with financial support of the EU. The main goal of the project is to develop the programmes in partnership with the national ministries, coordinating the water resources, ecosystems, energy, and agriculture. The interdepartmental working groups were established in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The IFAS Executive Committee is the national partner on the programme in our country.

The group of specialists from Turkmenistan included the representatives of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Industry, as well as the State Committee for Environment Protection and Land Resources, the State Committee for Hydrometeorology under the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan, the State Food Industry Association and the IFAS structural subdivisions – the IFAS Fund and the secretariat of the Interstate Commission for Sustainable Development, as well as scientists and members of the public environmental organisations.

During the roundtable meeting, Nexus Project Manager, Lyudmila Kiktenko and Leading specialist of the Environmental Management Programme, Saltanat Zhakenova introduced the aspects of the complex approach to address the project objectives.

Speaking during the meeting, Deputy Chairman of the EC IFAS Batyr Rejepov noted that the nexus approach that highlights the interdependencies between achieving water, energy and food security for human well-being had become popular in the context of the integrated water resources management not so long ago. With the definition of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN in 2015, the nexus approach is considered as a tool for maintaining ecological balance in the economic growth environment. The new ideas to be tested during the project will contribute to the development of the Aral Sea Basin Program-4 (ASBP-4).

The goal of the meeting was to discuss the opportunities, which are provided by intersectoral cooperation for the preparation of investment projects that satisfy the priorities of Turkmenistan’s development and will be able to replenish the infrastructural events, implemented by the government. It was noted that the Nexus Project meeting in Ashgabat is the first meeting in the region. The regular intersectoral partnership will promote the efficient cooperation and integration of innovative approaches on the national and regional levels.

Speaking during the meeting, Director of the CAREC Country Office in Turkmenistan, Dovlet Dzhumakuuliyev emphasized that the demand for drinking water, energy and food was growing, therefore, it was important to maintain the balance of the production growth and environmental sustainability. This is the basis for the intersectoral partnership.

A member of the Inter-Agency working group - the head of the Biodiversity and Ecology Department of the Scientific Information Center of the Interstate Commission for Sustainable Development, Batyr Kurbanov noted that each department was working to solve the tasks set by the government, but there was the potential for joint actions in the economic sectors. “We are going to work on this in the framework of the project. Until the end of the year, we are planning to hold four meetings and develop investment proposals given the intersectoral approach”.

"There are a lot of ideas, all of them are narrowly-specialized and the complex approach to their implementation will bring a great economic effect," said Igor Naumov, Chief Specialist of the EC IFAS Secretariat. “Our task is to select proposals in the context of the main goal of the project - to ensure the sustainable regional development using the formula: water-energy-food production-climate-ecology. The most important for our country vectors of cooperation are in the fields of return water management, fodder production, afforestation of territories in the zone of Aral influence. There are also unrealized components of the previous ASBPs”.

With every passing year, water and energy cooperation is becoming more important. Today, the various instruments of the political and diplomatic cooperation in this area are being used, and this project is another step in solving the problems of the resource balance of transboundary rivers, where the welfare of the state depends on the effectiveness of small forms of management.