Welcome speech of the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Kazakhstan Sukhrob Khojimatov at the seminar on sustainability and climate change in Central Asia

June 6, 2024
Photo: UNESCO in Kazakhstan

Dear Partners, Participants, Colleagues!

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme in Kazakhstan, I welcome you to today's event on the importance of snow, glacier, and permafrost systems for maintaining regional water supply and sustainability in Central Asia.

Day by day, we witness the impact of climate change. The severity of this problem is felt everywhere. According to the World Economic Forum's 2024 Global Risks Report, the most significant global risk expected over the next ten years is risk of "extreme weather events."

The past seven years have been the hottest on record. We are rapidly approaching distressing tipping points for human health and well-being, ecosystems, and development in general. The IPSOS Global Trends 2023 shows that 80 percent of people around the world feel that we are heading for environmental disaster. 

80 percent of the impacts of climate change are water related. Global ecosystems are threatened by extreme floods, droughts, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels. Water is a vital part of the global dialogue about the climate change impact.

There is not a single country in the Central Asian region where the impact of climate change cannot be seen and felt. The increase in temperature in its southern area is ahead of global trends. We all remember recent catastrophic floods and long droughts. The intensity and frequency of climate change manifestations is increasing from year to year.

Increasing extreme weather events in Central Asia are causing a steady decline in the Tien Shan glaciers and a decrease in their glacial coefficients.

Glaciers play a vital role in the formation of water resources in Central Asia. Even in river basins where the contribution of water generated by melting glaciers to the runoff does not exceed 5 percent, this water is important for irrigation in the summer, especially in dry ones.

That is why the disappearance of glaciers will lead to a sharp aggravation of problems of water and food security, agricultural sustainability, and the well-being of the mountain communities with all the ensuing consequences.

The transboundary nature of the problem requires joint efforts to strengthen the resilience of countries in the region, develop environmentally sustainable adaptation measures to climate change and specific action plans based on science-based findings about snow, glacier, and permafrost systems in Central Asia.

In this context, the importance and significance of the efforts within the joint initiative of UNDP and UNESCO is obvious, representing the foundation for building integrated water resources management in the countries of the region. I hope that this event will become a platform for determining the current situation and national priorities of each country regarding the cryosphere, water resources, and climate change.

UNDP’s approach to integrated water resources management is based on water initiatives in the context of countries’ resilience and adaptation to climate change, as well as the importance of the water agenda for peace and security. Over the past five years, UNDP has implemented a portfolio of 580 projects worth over US$3.8 billion in support of sustainable water development in more than 100 countries worldwide.

In Kazakhstan, UNDP works closely with the Government of Kazakhstan and the newly established Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation. Our consistent cooperation is aimed at supporting the development of strategic industry documents and includes new initiatives in the field of water resources management, digitalization of the water sector, and improvement of forecasting systems.

Our priority tasks are to include water issues in integrated regional development programs, coordinate the efforts of all development partners, and mobilize investments to address these pressing problems. 

I wish everyone impactful discussions and thank you for your attention.