Meeting of the Interstate commission on sustainable development in Ashgabat on May 24

The meeting brought together the heads of nature conservation agencies, experts and authorized representatives of the countries, members of the Interstate commission on sustainable development (ICSD), particularly the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Tajikistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as well as representatives of a number of international and regional organisations and mass media.

The meeting participants will discuss the issues of improving the legal framework for regional cooperation and sustainable development in the sphere of environmental protection, climate change, the work plan for the coming year as well as interaction of the Interstate commission on sustainable development with international and regional environmental organizations. It should be noted that currently Turkmenistan chairs the Interstate commission on sustainable development.

As a result of economic activity, the water supply of the Aral Sea decreased and the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s. The economic losses affected the life of population in the Aral Sea region and local fauna. In order to overcome the ecological crisis and improve the socio-economic situation in the Aral Sea Basin, the heads of the five Central Asian states created the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) in 1993. The main goal of the Fund is to support scientific and practical research and measures as well as finance socio-economic and environmental programmes in the region, which are aimed at improving the environmental situation in the Aral Sea region.

The Interstate commission on sustainable development was established on the initiative of the Central Asian states to ensure the balanced solution of socio-economic problems and the issues of environmental safety and preservation of the natural and resource potential of the region. The commission is affiliated with the IFAS and therefore, the dozens of projects and measures developed and implemented within the IFAS with the aim to protect environment focus on saving the Aral Sea. Scientific research and adaptive measures to protect and restore the ecosystem of the Aral Sea, which are organized by the ICSD, are the result of the consolidated efforts of the Central Asian countries. The ICSD executive bodies include the Secretariat, Scientific Information Center (SIC ICSD) with branches in each of the Member States of IFAS. The Secretariat of the Commission and Scientific Information Center were established on August 9, 1995 on the initiative of Turkmenistan with the permanent residence in Ashgabat.

In Turkmenistan, the IFAS branch located in Dashoguz is guided by the provisions of the Fund and the legislation of Turkmenistan. The branch participates in the process on development and implementation of the Aral Sea basin projects and programmess related to Turkmenistan and promotes collaboration of ministries, departments, public and environmental organizations in the country.

After taking over the ICSD chairmanship one year ago, Turkmenistan expressed the willingness to make the partnership of neighboring states in the area of sustainable development more constructive and efficient. The representatives of Turkmenistan noted that along with the development of coordination programmes, plans and medium-term strategy of the ICSD, our country considers the unification of the existing mechanisms of partnership and agreements between the Central Asia countries as well as the search for new ways of cooperation as priority tasks. This includes promotion of regional programmes and projects, exchange of information and cooperation with the UN agencies, in particular, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that actively support the ICSD activities as well as increase authority of the Commission in the current ecological processes at all levels.

As a member of the United Nations Organization, Turkmenistan significantly contributes to the implementation of international conventions and environmental agreements. Part of this work is to promote the ecological initiatives of Turkmenistan put forward by the Turkmen leader, including the initiative on the establishment of the Regional Centre for Technologies related to climate change in Central Asia under the aegis and with the active participation of the United Nations Organization. At present, Turkmenistan is carrying out specific work in this direction, including within the ICSD.