New joint project kicks off to support “Yashil Makon" initiative through the development of Master Plan and innovative financial solutions

September 20, 2022
Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is facing major challenges caused by climate change, including desertification, water scarcity, drought, and drying up of the Aral Sea. Rising temperatures in the country and the melting of mountain glaciers, which are an important source of drinking water, faster than the global average, are increasing climate risks. Water scarcity leads to a decrease in productivity in the country and, as a result, an inability to provide enough products for the rapidly growing population. The problem is exacerbated by the ongoing drying up of the Aral Sea, which has lost 57 percent of its area, 80 percent of its volume, and 64 percent of its depth over the past 40 years. Surkhandarya region is the region with the most unfavorable weather from an ecological point of view. Strong dust storms at a speed of 20-25 m/s enter the region up to 19 times a year, causing great damage to the fertile soil layer, which reduces the productivity of agricultural products.

As mitigation and prevention measure, the "Yashil Makon”(“Green Nation") initiative put forward by the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev in November 2021 was welcomed by many international organizations. This ambitious and far-sighted initiative envisages the planting of 1 billion tree and shrub saplings across the country over the next five years.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

The United Nations Development Program in Uzbekistan (UNDP) fully supports these efforts, and established a multidisciplinary group of experts in the fields of innovation, technology and policy in order to assist the Government of Uzbekistan in the development and implementation of this complex set of measures.

Earlier in June, 2022, UNDP, the State Committee for Ecology and Environmental Protection, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) initiated a joint project aimed at development of a master plan and innovative financing solutions to support the "Yashil Makon" initiative of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

The main goal of the project is to support the Government of Uzbekistan in ensuring the sustainability and climate resilience of "Yashil Makon" initiative through long-term innovative financing, coordination and capacity building. A total of 900,000 US dollars was allocated by the partners for the implementation of the project to finance the afforestation initiative in the Aral Sea region and the Surkhandarya region until December 2023, and to establish an effective monitoring and control system. It is planned to develop financial plans with innovative financial tools, as well as to develop a Master Plan for a Sustainable Future aimed at greening the landscapes and cities of Uzbekistan, and to implement measures aimed at increasing resilience to sand and dust storms in Surkhandarya region.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

Within the framework of the project, close cooperation with the following national partner organizations is expected, including the Ministry of Finance, the State Forestry Committee, Uzhydromet, the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry for support of makhalla and family, as well as civil society organizations.

Today, on 20 September, UNDP in Uzbekistan, the State Committee for Ecology and Environmental Protection, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) jointly held the inception workshop of this joint project.

This kick-off meeting served a platform for presenting the original goals and objectives of the project, the work plan, and the preliminary findings of the feasibility studies on Innovative Financing Solutions and Master Planning for Afforestation and provided the floor for collective discussions.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

Ms. Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan, in her opening remarks highlighted that “Yashil Makon” is not just about planting millions of trees; but it is about planting them in the right place and ensuring the appropriate care and maintenance. She also noted that only good planning, well-coordinated actions and sustainable approaches in tree care will deliver their promised benefits.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

The event was attended by representatives of government agencies and public organizations, scientific-research institutes, and international organizations that are not indifferent to environmental protection and the fight against climate change.

It should be noted that the financial instruments offered by the UNDP will open the door to voluntary carbon trading markets for the country, as well as ensure the return of carbon reserves through afforestation and reduce the financial burden associated with this process.

The current joint project aims to create environment-friendly and sustainable jobs, especially for rural women in Uzbekistan. At this point, UNDP aims to support the Government of Uzbekistan throughout and until the final stage of the "Yashil Makon" initiative aimed at benefitting the health of the population and the economic prosperity of the regions.