Ashgabat International Ecological Forum “Initiative for Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development in Central Asia” carried the work to completion, organized by the State Committee of Turkmenistan on environmental protection and land resources and the Central Asia Regional Environmental Center (CAREC).
The forum brought together about 200 delegates. Among the participants were the heads and leading specialists of relevant departments, government agencies, deputies of national parliaments, representatives of international organizations, diplomatic missions, scientific and business circles, mass media of different countries.
There was a detailed exchange of views on possibilities of cooperation in the sphere of environmental protection and sustainable development, joint management of water resources, adaptation to global climate changes. Heads of delegations of Central Asian countries presented overviews of the national conservation strategies, closely connected with state social and economic programs.
The accumulated experience was analyzed in the speeches of the representatives of UNDP and the UN environment programme, UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, OSCE, World Bank, UN Convention to Combat Desertification Secretariat, UNECE, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia, German Societies for International Cooperation, etc.
Discussing measures, called to promote climate change adaptation, attendees paid special attention to the “Agenda 2030”, which formulated the global development goals of the third Millennium, the Paris Agreement on climate change and opportunities, offered by the establishment of Regional Center for technologies in Ashgabat under the auspices of the UN, related to climate change in Central Asia. President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov put forward this initiative at the sessions of the UN General Assembly, UN Conference on sustainable development “Rio+20” and other major forums.
Among the extremely difficult region problems was water supply deficit. In this regard, it was noted the conflict between irrigation and energy water use regimes by the countries, located in the lower reaches and the headwaters of the transboundary rivers of Central Asia.
Outlining their countries’ positions on this issue, representatives of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan called for a comprehensive study and application of international practice of integrated management of shared water resources and international water law.
It was emphasized that today water issues cannot be considered in isolation from the long-term strategy for environmentally sustainable development of the region. The Turkmen leader has repeatedly declared the necessity for active promotion of “water diplomacy” and the development of the Specialized UN Programme for water issues, in particular, at the 7th World Water Forum in 2015 in the Republic of Korea. It was also noted that while presiding in the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea in 2017-2019, our country would give special priority to cooperation in this field.
Speaking about the significance of the region states’ coordinated actions, the representative of Uzbekistan mentioned as a positive example bilateral agreements in water management issues, achieved in the course of the state visit of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan to Turkmenistan, held in March of this year. In a Joint Declaration, signed following the results of the talks, held in Ashgabat, President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov and President Shavkat Mirziyoev, in particular, noted that the water resources of transboundary rivers of Central Asia are the common good of the region peoples, and the destinies of tens of millions of people, stability and prosperity of the entire region depend on their equitable and rational use.
It was expressed an opinion that the erection of new hydraulic constructions on these water arteries should be carried out through constructive approach and compromise, which does not infringe upon interests of other concerned states, and also according with universally acknowledged standards of international water law, enshrined in the UN conventions, providing for appropriate independent international examination and coordination with downstream countries of all projects, bearing a transboundary impact.
In his turn, the representative of Kyrgyzstan proposed to develop economic mechanisms of water use among all states in the region in order to avoid the risks, associated with unbalanced water resources management. Such instruments should reflect the Central Asian countries’ interests in various sectors of the economy, and at the same time to take into account the regional agreements on cross-border cooperation.
The representative of Tajikistan confirmed the complete readiness for dialogue and partnership on the base of such guidelines as mutually beneficial cooperation, good neighborly relations, and faithful implementation of the commitments of the international agreements.
The today sessions were held in an interactive format. Staff members of the hydro meteorological services and a number of international organizations made presentations on the theme: “Opportunities for climate risk reduction in Central Asia”, “Green investments as an opportunity for sustainable development”. The reports summarized the experience of projects on adaptation to climate change in mountainous areas of the region, as well as in agriculture, rational use of land resources, energy efficiency upgrading and energy conservation in the oil and gas sector, residential development etc.
It was emphasized that the transition to a “green” economy, which is based on innovative, resource-saving and environmental responsible production technologies is a global trend that defines the priorities of human development. At the state level, it is necessary to create economic impetuses for investors, using advanced technology, modern equipment, latest developments and, respectively, to tighten sanctions against violators of environmental standards and requirements.
A separate discussion was dedicated to the civil Initiative “Green Silk Road”, supported by the UN Environment Program, whose main goal is to provide nature security, large-scale industrial and transport projects, implemented in Eurasia.
Within the frame of forum, it was held a round table “Role of mass media in covering environmental problems of the region”, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan. It was attended by the representatives of the foreign policy and environment-oriented departments of Central Asian countries, international environmental organizations and associations, and Senior Editors of Turkmen and foreign newspapers and magazines, workers of other mass media, and also students of the Department of Journalism.
Heads of delegations commended the initiative to hold the International Ecological Forum in Ashgabat, which is henceforth decided to arrange alternately in each of the region countries.
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