UNUnited Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Press Release


Water unites: improving water management in Central Asia

Geneva, 14 November 2008 --

The water situation in Central Asia is difficult: the Aral Sea is still shrinking, upstream and downstream countries are not agreeing on water release regimes and water distribution, the energy and irrigation sectors are competing, water ecosystems are deteriorating further and climate change may irreversibly decrease water availability. After a very cold winter in Central Asia in 2007/2008, the situation is even more acute.

Over the past few years, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has been increasing its engagement in the region, building its efforts on the UNECE’s regional environmental conventions, in particular the unique framework offered by its Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention).

A special international conference, “Water Unites – Strengthening Regional Cooperation on Water Management in Central Asia” (Almaty, Kazakhstan, 17-18 November 2008) will address these issues. Organized by UNECE, the Government of Germany, the Executive Committee for the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (EC-IFAS) and the United Nations Development Programme, the conference is being hosted by the Kazakh Executive Board of IFAS and the Government of Kazakhstan.

The conference is a follow-up to the first “Water Unites” conference (Berlin, 1 April 2008), which saw the launch of the “Berlin Water Process” by the German Federal Foreign Minister. The Almaty conference’s main objective is to assess the short- and long-term challenges in cooperative water management in Central Asia and to generate more coherent, efficient and better targeted actions to meet these challenges. High-level representatives of Central Asian countries, the United Nations, the European Union, regional organizations and other members of the international development community are among the invitees. An impressive conference programme includes the presentation of specific projects, as well as international frameworks for cooperation. A special session is devoted to the discussion of the overall need to modernize the legal and institutional frameworks of water management in Central Asia.

The conference will also mark the inauguration of EC-IFAS, which has moved from Dushanbe to Almaty.

More details are available on the conference website: Almaty conference.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Bo Libert
Regional Adviser UNECE Environment, Housing and Land Management Division
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Phone: +41 (0) 22 917 2396
Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 0621
E-mail: bo.libert@unece.org

Ref: ECE/ENV/08/P17