Project "Regional dialogue and cooperation on water resources management in Central Asia" Phase I

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Phase I (2009-2011) of the project “Regional Dialogue and Cooperation on Water Resources Management in Central Asia”
Background

Efficient and sustainable management of water resources in the five countries of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – remains highly important for political, economic and environmental cooperation in this sub-region and beyond. Climate change impacts loom and call for improved cooperation. Moreover, water quality aspects which have been neglected in the past are increasingly recognized as being of high relevance for sub-regional cooperation. The institutional and legal frameworks for water resources management established in the early nineties face difficulties in addressing the growing differences over water release regimes and water distribution in Central Asia.

At the first "Water Unites" conference (1 April 2008, Berlin), the German Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier launched the Berlin Water Process. Relying on the political will of the Central Asian countries, the process aimed to be a new start of international efforts to find effective, long-term solutions to the complex problems related to the management of water resources in Central Asia. The process is an important part of the water and environment pillar of the European Union’s Central Asia Strategy.

The Berlin Water Process continued with a special international conference “Water Unites – Strengthening Regional Cooperation on Water Management in Central Asia” (Almaty, 17–18 November 2008), organized by the Government of Germany, UNECE, the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (EC IFAS) and UNDP.

In 2009, the Programme “Transboundary Water Management in Central Asia” (Eng, Rus) was launched as the operational element of the Berlin Water Process. This Programme was carried out by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ – German International Cooperation) on behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Programme, implemented over the period from 2009 to 2011, included three major areas: fostering regional institutional cooperation; strengthening transboundary river basin management; and national pilot projects for improved water management.

The UNECE led the implementation in the first major area of the Programme through the “Regional Dialogue and Cooperation on Water Resources Management” project (2009-2011). The UNECE involvement built on its neutral engagement in the regional discussion on water management over the past few years and relied on the solid framework of UNECE environmental conventions.

Goal and components

The goal of the project “Regional Dialogue and Cooperation on Water Resources Management” (2009-2011) was to empower the countries of Central Asia to develop and implement mutually acceptable, long-term solutions to improve cooperation on transboundary water resources. Enhancing the regional dialogue and strengthening the capacity of regional institutions for water resources management were the major objectives.

The project included several interrelated components. Through the first component, Regional Institutions on Water Management, the countries of Central Asia were supported in analyzing the needs for reforms in the legal framework and overall institutional setting for transboundary water management, with a focus on the International Fund for saving the Aral Sea (IFAS).The project facilitated the development of proposals for adaptation of mandates, objectives and responsibilities of regional water institutions. The commitment to further improve the organizational structure and legal framework of the IFAS, expressed by the Presidents of five Central Asian states at the IFAS summit (Almaty, 28 April 2009), provided a solid basis for this direction of work.

The second component, International Water Law, involved building capacity on international water law and policy. It initiated a dialogue between the five states of Central Asia about the needs for stable legal frameworks for water management in Central Asia. This work was based upon existing frameworks such as the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, the UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, the UNECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, and other relevant international legal instruments in the area of water management.

The last component, Water Monitoring and Data Exchange, provided support to regional institutions and representatives of five Central Asian countries in strengthening water monitoring and improving data exchange, in close coordination with existing UNECE and other projects.

Highlights

Under the first component, Regional Institutions on Water Management, the project assisted Central Asian governments in analyzing the legal and institutional frameworks for regional water cooperation (see Discussion Paper "Strengthening the Institutional and Legal Frameworks of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea: Review and Proposals" developed under the Working Group on Institutional and Legal Strengthening and the Development of Aral Sea Basin Programme - 3). Based on the evolutionary approach preferred by the Central Asian countries, the project facilitated the elaboration of proposals for strengthening such frameworks and organised substantive discussions on the legal and institutional strengthening of IFAS (see Conceptual Elements for Strengthening the Institutional and Legal Basis of IFAS developed under the auspices of the Expert Group on the revision of statutory documents of IFAS). The project also supported EC IFAS and the governments of Central Asia to develop the Third Aral Sea Basin Programme (ASBP-3) through an open and inclusive process. 

Under the second component, International Water Law, the project organized over 15 regional and national capacity-building activities aimed at improving the understanding and application of international water law, including UNECE environmental conventions.  National events were organised in all five Central Asian countries. The project responded to specific interests and needs of requesting countries, and increased understanding of international water law in the Central Asian region. Close interaction with the Program of National Policy Dialogues on IWRM ensured follow-up to capacity building activities in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Representatives of Afghanistan participated in the regional capacity-building activities.

The project developed a publication “Strengthening water management and transboundary water cooperation in Central Asia: the role of UNECE environmental conventions” prepared in cooperation with the secretariats of five UNECE conventions.

Under the last component, Water Monitoring and Data Exchange, the project initiated a discussion among Central Asian countries and international partners on the needs, vision and principles for information and data exchange in the region.

Events

Third Meeting of the Expert Group on the Revision of Statutory Documents of IFAS, 12 December 2011, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Workshop "Information Exchange on Water Resources in Central Asia", 7 December 2011, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Training on international water law for young diplomats in Central Asia (jointly with UNRCCA), 6-7 December 2011, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

National training session on identification of hazardous activities under the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents for Uzbekistan, 6-7 December 2011, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

National training session on identification of hazardous activities under the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, 22-23 November 2011, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Workshop to strengthen capacity for the development of EIA and SEA systems in Uzbekistan, with sharing of experiences from other countries in the implementation of the Espoo Convention and in particular its Protocol on SEA, 9-12 November 2011, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

International High Level Conference “Strengthening transboundary water cooperation in Central Asia: the role of international water law and of the UNECE Water Convention” and the Workshop on the Protocol on Water and Health, 25 - 27 October 2011, Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan

National seminar “Strengthening transboundary water cooperation and adaptation to climate change”, 26 - 27 September 2011, Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan

National consultations on the "Conceptual elements for the strengthening of the institutional and legal framework of IFAS", Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 15 August 2011

National consultations on the "Conceptual elements for the strengthening of the institutional and legal framework of IFAS", Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 12 August 2011

National consultations on the "Conceptual elements for the strengthening of the institutional and legal framework of IFAS", Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 9 June 2011

Workshop on obligations and procedures of Espoo and Industrial Accidents Conventions and opportunities the two Conventions provide for Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 5-6 June 2011

Sub-regional training workshop for strengthening capacities in Central Asia for understanding and implementing the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context and, in particular, the Convention's Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment, with a focus on the water sector, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 28 March – 1 April 2011

Briefing “UNECE environmental conventions: key aspects and opportunities for Central Asia” (side event in the framework of the Second meeting), Geneva, Switzerland, 23 March 2011

Second meeting of the Expert Group on the revision of statutory documents of IFAS, Geneva, Switzerland, 22-23 March 2011

National seminar "On the way to the International Year of Water Cooperation: the role of international law, including the UNECE Water Convention, in strengthening cooperation on water resources management", Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 14-15 March 2011

Joint High-level Meeting of Donors and IFAS Board on the Third Aral Sea Basin Program, Almaty, 15 December 2010

Donors Coordination Conference on the Third Aral Sea Basin Programme, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 9 December 2010

National seminar "Strengthening integrated water resources management and transboundary water cooperation: the role of UNECE conventions and of the EU Water Initiative National Policy Dialogue", Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 6-7 December 2010

Expert Group on the revision of statutory documents of IFAS, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 22 October 2010

National seminar "UNECE Water Convention and its role in international law", Almaty, Kazakhstan, 18-19 October 2010

National Seminar “Legislation and procedures for the application of the Espoo Convention in Tajikistan”, Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 22-23 July 2010

Donors' Coordination Meeting on Third Aral Sea Basin Programme, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 21 May 2010

Second meeting of the Working Group on Institutional and Legal Strengthening and Aral Sea Basin Programme - 3, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 20-21 April 2010

Workshop for representatives of international and donor organisations, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 17 March 2010

National Consultations (Almaty, Dushanbe, Ashgabat, Tashkent, Bishkek, February - March 2010)

Consultative meeting with international organizations and donors on the development of ASBP-3, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 3 February 2010

First meeting of the Working Group on Institutional and Legal Strengthening and the Development of Aral Sea Basin Programme - 3, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 10-11 December 2009

Consultative meeting with international organizations and donors on the development of ASBP-3, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 17 November 2009

High-Level Segment "Transboundary Water Cooperation: the Case of Central Asia" (during the fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, Geneva, 10-12 November 2009)

Seminar on “International water laws and negotiation of mutually beneficial multilateral water agreements in Central Asia”, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 19-21 April 2009

Statements and documents

Statement by Mr. Andrey Vasilyev, Officer in Charge of the UNECE, at the Conference "Blue Diplomacy for Central Asia", Berlin, 7-8 March 2012 (also in Rus)

Statement by Mr. Marton Krasznai, UNECE Regional Adviser, at the panel discussion during the Conference "Blue Diplomacy for Central Asia", Berlin, 7-8 March 2012

Documentation of the Expert Group on the revision of the statutory documents of IFAS, including the Conceptual Elements for Strengthening the Institutional and Legal Basis of IFAS (draft)

"Strengthening water management and transboundary water cooperation in Central Asia: the role of UNECE Conventions" (Conference “Environment for Europe”, Astana, 21-23 September 2011) (ECE/ASTANA.CONF/2011/INF/5) (Eng, Rus)

Statement by Mr. Ján Kubiš, UNECE Executive Secretary, at the Second meeting of the Expert Group on the revision of statutory documents of IFAS, Geneva, Switzerland, 22-23 March 2011

Statement by Mr. Andrey Vasilyev, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UNECE, at the High-level Meeting on the Third Aral Sea Basin Program, Almaty, 15 December 2010

Statement by Mr. Marton Krasznai, UNECE Regional Adviser, at the Consultations on Enhancing Security in Afghanistan and Central Asia through Regional Cooperation on Water, European Parliament, Brussels, 7 December 2010

Statement by Mr. Ján Kubiš, UNECE Executive Secretary, at the High Level Public Hearing, European Parliament, Brussels, 12 October 2010

Statement by Mr. Ján Kubiš, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, during the high level dialogue meeting “Implementation of the IFAS Summit Conclusions and Outcomes of the UN Secretary-General’s visit to Central Asia”, Ashgabat, 20 July 2010

Documentation of the Working Group on Strengthening Institutional and Legal Frameworks and Aral Sea Basin Programme - 3 including the Discussion Paper "Strengthening the Institutional and Legal Frameworks of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea: Review and Proposals"

Opening Statement by Mr. Ján Kubiš, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe at the International Coordination Meeting “Responding to the Compound Crisis in Central Asia: a Framework for Action”, 20-21 July 2009, Almaty

Statement by Mr. Ján Kubiš, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, during the Coordination Meeting on the Follow-up to the IFAS Summit in Almaty, Ashgabat, 16 July 2009

Press releases, articles and publications

Publication "Strengthening water management and transboundary water cooperation in Central Asia: the role of UNECE Conventions", December 2011

UNECE workshop to improve quality and access to information on transboundary water resources in Central Asia, Almaty/Geneva, 8 Devember 2011

UNECE workshop to help mainstream environmental concerns into Uzbek Government plans and policies opens in Tashkent, Geneva, 9 November 2011

Central Asian countries discuss the role of UNECE Water Convention in strengthening transboundary cooperation Geneva, 25 October 2011

UNECE helps Kyrgyzstan in strengthening transboundary water cooperation for adaptation to climate change Geneva, 26 September 2011

UNECE discusses the role of environmental conventions in Turkmenistan Geneva, 10 June 2011

UNECE facilitates dialogue on the strengthening of institutions for water cooperation in Central Asia UNECE Weekly No 418, 28 March - 1 April 2011

UNECE organizes Central Asian workshop to help mainstream environmental concerns in Government plans and policies Geneva, 16 March 2011

UNECE Seminar on International Water Cooperation opens in Tajikistan Geneva, 14 March 2011

Central Asian States finalize the Third Aral Sea Basin Program Geneva, 17 December 2010

UNECE organizes seminar on water management in Turkmenistan Geneva, 6 December 2010

Kazakhstan: strengthening transboundary water cooperation with the help of the UNECE Water Convention Geneva, 18 October 2010

Executive Secretary discusses strengthening cooperation in the Aral Sea Basin Geneva, 16 July 2010

Marton Krasznai, UNECE: Mutually advantageous cooperation on water and energy resources is fully possible in Central Asia! CARNet, 8 July 2010

UNECE supports joint work of Central Asian countries on regional water resources management UNECE Weekly No 370, 3-7 May 2010

Institutional and Legal Strengthening of Regionial Water Resources Management in Central Asia UNECE Weekly No.353, 4-8 January 2010

UNECE-GTZ Programme helps Central Asian countries to strengthen regional institutions for transboundary water management Geneva, 10 December 2009

Water Unites in Almaty: German Government and UNECE present the Berlin Water Process, part of the EU Strategy for Central Asia Geneva, 21 November 2008

Water unites: improving water management in Central Asia Geneva, 14 November 2008

Links

German Federal Foreign Office

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ – German International Cooperation)

Transboundary Water Management in Central Asia

Executive Committee of the International Fund for saving the Aral Sea

Interstate Commission for Water Coordination of Central Asia

CA WATER info

UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia (UNRCCA)

Contacts
ECE Project Task Force

Mr. Bo LIBERT, Regional Adviser on Environment
Environment, Housing and Land Management Division
UN Economic Commission for Europe
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Telephone: 0041-22-917 23 96
Telefax: 0041-22-917 06 21
E-mail: bo.libert(at)unece.org

Mr. Marton KRASZNAI, Regional Adviser on Economic Cooperation and Integration
Economic Cooperation and Integration Division
UN Economic Commission for Europe
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Telephone: 0041 22 917 2760
Telefax: 0041 22 917 0178
E-mail: marton.krasznai(at)unece.org

Ms. Francesca BERNARDINI,
Secretary to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of
Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes
Environment, Housing and Land Management Division
UN Economic Commission for Europe
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Telephone: 0041 22-917 2463
Telefax: 0041-22-917 0107
e-mail: francesca.bernardini(at)unece.org

Ms. Iulia TROMBITCAIA, Expert on Water Management
Environment, Housing and Land Management Division
UN Economic Commission for Europe
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Telephone: 0041-22-917 3332
Telefax: 0041-22-917 0621
E-mail: iulia.trombitcaia(at)unece.org