Ashgabat hosts regional meeting on cooperation in ecology and management of water resources

Cooperation in sustainable development and management of water resources of the Central Asia is a subject of the meeting held under the chairmanship of Turkmenistan in International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea (IFAS) in 2017 – 2019.

Two-day forum was organized by IFAS Executive Committee and the Central Asian Regional Ecology Centre (CAREC) with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of our country. Representatives of the branches of the Executive Committee and structural divisions of IFAS in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan including Inter-Agency Committee for Sustainable Development (IASD) and Inter-State Coordination Water Commission (ISCWC) as well as structural departments of the United Nations, German Economic Cooperation (GIZ) and other regional and international organizations took part in the meeting.

The meeting was forestalled by the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between IFAS Executive Committee and German Economic Cooperation (GIZ). This document is related to the realization of the Programme of Transboundary Management of Water Resources in Central Asia, which is aimed at the support of the countries of the region in establishment of efficient mechanisms of cooperation in water sector based on universal standards of international law and world’s practice.

Besides, the Memorandum on Cooperation between IFAS Executive Committee and Central Asian Regional Ecology Centre stipulating joint fulfilment of the projects “Water, Education and Cooperation” (Smart Water Project) and Central Asian Dialog for Use of the capabilities of multisectoral financing by the enforcement of interrelation “water – energy – food” (Nexus) has been signed.

The first project, implemented under support of the USA Agency for International Development (USAID), is related to the training and improvement of qualification of the managers and specialists of water industry, scientific personnel in Aral Sea countries.

In its turn, the Nexus project, financed by European Union and realized by CAREC in cooperation with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is to consolidate the partnership of Central Asian countries in solution of the issues of water supply, energy and food security, what is closely related to ecological component.

During plenary session, the participants of the meeting discussed wide spectrum of issues of activation of cooperation of Central Asian countries in sustainable development and rational use of water resources of the region based on successful experience and close cooperation with the largest international organizations.

Separate session was dedicated to the realization of the Concept of the Chairmanship of Turkmenistan in International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea developed by the order of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Leaders of IFAS Executive Committee and its branches made reports on performed work and future plans, where they paid special attention to such aspects as combating of the consequences of Aral crisis, improvement of ecological situation and mechanisms of integrated management of transboundary water resources, support of economic and social development of Aral region. The information of preparation to regular session of IFAS Board as well as to the Summit of the heads of the states – founders of IFAS in Ashgabat in 2018 was given.

Projects of Central Asian water strategy and the UN Special Programme for Aral Sea developed according to the initiatives of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov uttered during the sessions of the UN General Assembly, UN Conference for Sustainable Development Rio+20, UN Summit for sustainable development after 2015 held under the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, III UN World Conference for mitigation of the risk of natural catastrophes in Japan, VII World Water Forum in the Republic of Korea were the subjects of interested discussion.

The participants of the meeting highlighted that referring to the speech of the Head of Turkmenistan, water problem in Central Asia is the most important and in some cases defining factor of the development of regional processes. In such circumstances, regional consensus is the only acceptable platform for efficient cooperation of the states of the region including for provision of ecological and food security, establishment of integrated system of stable energy and adaptation to climate change.

All of these stipulate the appropriateness of the proposals of Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on the opening of Regional Centre of Technologies related with the climate change in Central Asia, which most important activity is to be the water diplomacy.

The experience in realization of targeted programmes and projects in outlines area of subjects was analysed in the speeches of the heads and experts of Central Asian Regional Ecology Centre, Inter-agency Committee for Sustainable Development of IFAS, Central Asian Regional Mountain Centre, basin water management associations Amudarya and Surdarya operating under Inter-State Coordination Water Management Committee.

The information on the process of elaboration of new Regional Action Plan for Protection of the Environment in Central Asia taking into account the reality of time and global ecological issues was presented.

Discussing practical measure for support of sustainable development of theregion, the participants paid special attention to the Global Agenda 2030 approved by the UN, which formulates global Goal of sustainable development of the third millennium and Paris Treaty on Climate Change signed by 175 states including by Central Asian countries.

At the same time, it was mentioned that conversion to green economy, which resting upon innovative, resource saving and ecologically friendly production technologies improves the wellbeing of people and reduces the risks for the environment, is a universal trend defining the priorities of the development of entire humanity.

The importance of further consolidation of the mechanisms of inter-state cooperation, establishment of partner relations between the Governments, international and social organizations and business circles in protection of the environment, management of water resources, stable energy, implementation of modern technologies and best world practices in above-mentioned spheres was highlighted.

Thus, first International ecology forum “Initiative for Cooperation in Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development in Central Asia” held in Ashgabat in June by the State Committee of Turkmenistan for Natural Protection and Land Resources and Central Asian Regional Ecology Centre was important step in this direction.

Issues of the realization of the third Programme of actions for support of the countries of Aral Sea basin (ASBP3) are to be discussed in the final day of the meeting. The programmes includes complex of measures aimed at improvement of ecological situation, social and economic development and improvement of wellbeing of the population in the countries – members of IFAS.

The activity of Scientific and Information Centre of the IACSD that elaborates the recommendations for social and economic development, scientific and ecological regional cooperation in solution of Aral Sea problems is among other subjects.

It is also planned to review the results of targeted programmes and projects performed on national and regional levels together with international organizations and financial structures including the UNDP, OSCE, EU. World Bank, GIZ and other.

Generally, all of these is to support further activation of fruitful partnership of the countries of the region meeting such global aims as prosperity and wellbeing.