Central Asian States rally for water and climate solutions Subtitle: Dushanbe Forum tackles critical water and climate challenges, signaling a united regional approach

June 14, 2024

Dushanbe, 14 June 2024 – The High-level Central Asian Forum on 'Water and Climate Change', organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with the European Union and the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources of the Republic of Tajikistan, has become a cornerstone of the 3rd High-level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development” 2018-2028.

The region's reliance on glaciers and snowmelt for approximatelyApproximately  90 percent of its water resources is at risk due to climate change, with projections of a 20 percent decrease in freshwater availability by 2050. The Forum facilitated vital discussions among government representatives, development partners, and stakeholders from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Mr. Rustam Nazarzoda, the Chair of the Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defense under the Government of Tajikistan in his opening speech said: “I am confident that our Forum will unite efforts aimed at achieving water and climate sustainability, as well as strengthening regional cooperation, including through achieving disaster risk reduction goals.

This 3rd High-level forum on ‘'Water and Climate Change’' in Dushanbe focused on improving water and climate dialogue among the Central Asian states on implementing risk-informed policies, national adaptation plans, disaster risk reduction measures, and enhancing regional cooperation on water resource management and environmental protection.

Ms. Lazima Onta Bhatta, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Tajikistan, remarked: “This Forum stands as a unifying call to action for all Central Asian states, urging collaboration towards a shared objective of achieving water and climate resilience for regional stability and cooperation. Together, we can cultivate partnerships, synergize efforts, and instigate transformative progress”.

The Forum was organized as a collaborative effort driven by UNDP’s initiative ‘Climate Change and Resilience in Central Asia’ funded by the European Union. Its overall objective is to support stability and climate-resilient development in the region of Central Asia by supporting the national priority goals related to environment, climate change, and disaster risk management in line with national commitments under the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

Ms. Terhi Hakala, the European Union Special Representative for Central Asia in her speech  stated: “We strongly support transboundary water cooperation around the world, including through our backing of the UNECE water convention. Water is a global common good that needs to be protected and preserved, and that is why we need to strengthen the integration of our water resources management. In Central Asia, the European Union is actively engaged in the fields of Water, Energy and Climate Change.”

Mr. Daniyar Sharip, Deputy Director of the Department on International Cooperation, atof the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation of Kazakhstan noted that over 23 years of being a party to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), significant results have been achieved in promoting cooperation in the use and protection of transboundary water resources. He mentioned that at the same time, the problem of availability and quality of water resources remains relevant. Considering the population and economic growth trends, the water deficit in Kazakhstan could reach 12–15 km3 by 2040.

“Undoubtedly, the growing water shortage is a common problem for all Central Asian states. However, we hope that the rational use of water resources, along with the areas of energy and transport, can become another important element of the new model of our regional cooperation”, added  Mr. Sharip in his statement.

With 94 percent of its territory being occupied by mountains, Kyrgyz Republic is increasingly involved in the activities of the global community to address global environmental threats. It is actively contributing to international environmental processes since climate change is having negative impacts in the country.

Mr. Almazbek Sokeev, Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Agriculture, and Processing Industry of the Kyrgyz Republic highlighted: “I am confident that the results of our work will give new impetus for further fruitful activities in solving problems of adaptation to climate change and the efficient use of water resources in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan is ready to take an active part in achieving goals and objectives to reduce risks for a decent future for the countries of Central Asia.”.

In recent years, Central Asian countries have made progress in integrating climate change issues into sector planning and developing pro-climate solutions. A dialogue is taking place among heads of states and governments, involving significant regional environmental platforms such as the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, the Interstate Commission for Sustainable Development, and the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination. 

Mr. Berdi Berdiyev, Head of the Department on Coordination of the International Ecological Cooperation and Projects of the Ministry of Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan highlighted in his speech: “Realizing the critical importance of practical actions, in particular the creation of a base of climate technologies and their use in countering climate change processes in the region, the Government of Turkmenistan called for the creation of a Regional Center for Climate Technologies for Central Asia (RCCT-CA) under the auspices of the UN in Ashgabat.”.

Taking into account the transboundary nature of the main water resources of Central Asia and realizing the highest value of water in the conditions of our region, the Government of Uzbekistan has identified the rational use of the region’s water resources as one of the priorities in the foreign policy of Uzbekistan.

Speaking at the Forum, Mr. Ilhom Juraev, Director of the Information-Analytical and Resource Center of the Ministry of Water Resources of Uzbekistan indicated: “Uzbekistan has set a trend: to follow the path of reasonable compromises to reach mutually acceptable solutions. This approach has had a very positive impact on finding the solutions for water-related issues, which have been the subject of controversy for many years. In a short time, the region has managed to create effective mechanisms of cooperation in bilateral and multilateral formats, as well as to give a positive dynamic to regional cooperation.”

The Forum has successfully facilitatedstimulated active knowledge exchange and contributed to the High-level International Conference objectives, advancing the collective pursuit of sustainable water management in Central Asia. 

For media inquiries please refer to Ainagul Abdrakhmanova, UNDP Communications Officer at ainagul.abdrakhmanova@undp.org