UNECE supports Afghan-Tajik cooperation to address severe floods, vulnerable ecosystems and climate change impacts in Amu Darya Basin
Afghan and Tajik water and environment experts meeting in Dushanbe from 27 to 29 March 2012 agreed to establish cooperation to address pressing issues on their shared upper part of the Amu Darya River Basin.
As a result of the meeting, a bilateral working group will be set up to pursue further work, including joint hydrological monitoring and exchange of information on the Pyanj River, an upstream tributary to the Amu Darya that marks the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Joint expeditions are also planned to review the status of threatened ecosystems.
The discussions, which were organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in cooperation with the Committee for Environmental Protection of Tajikistan, focused on the common challenges on the Pyanj River. These challenges include:
- A lack of knowledge about the water resources, in particular taking into account the effects of climate change
- Frequent severe floods
- Vulnerable ecosystems.
As part of the meeting, a field visit was organized to the Tajik side of the border to study hydrologic monitoring, as well as mountain ecosystems.
The meeting was the start of a project in support of bilateral hydrology and environment cooperation under the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, as well as the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia.
In an opening statement, Andrey Vasilyev, UNECE Deputy Executive Secretary, noted that, in the face of the emerging threats caused by climate change, and with an intensified use of water resources in the whole Amu Darya River Basin, intensified cooperation would benefit both States as well as the other riparian countries.
Among participants were Talbak Salimov, Chair of the Tajik Committee for Environmental Protection, representatives from the Afghan Ministry for Foreign Affairs and water and environment authorities in Kabul as well as regions neighbouring Tajikistan.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Bo Libert, UNECE
Phone: +41 (0)22 917 2396
Note to editors:
The project “Strengthening cooperation on hydrology and environment between Afghanistan and Tajikistan in the upper Amu Darya River Basin” supports Afghanistan and Tajikistan in the development of hydrology and environment cooperation in the upper Amu Darya Basin. The Ministry for Water and Energy and the National Environmental Protection Agency of Afghanistan and the Committee for Environmental Protection of Tajikistan and Tajik Hydromet are project partners. On the basis of existing bilateral agreements the two countries will strengthen their cooperation and information exchange. The Russian Federation and UNECE provide funding for the project.
The objective of the project is to support the establishment of long-term cooperation between the two countries on hydrology and environment. The aim is also to improve the understanding of and access to information about the water resources and environmental conditions in the upper Amu Darya Basin for relevant stakeholders in the whole basin.
The UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) of 1992 aims to strengthen national measures and transboundary cooperation for the protection and ecologically sound management of transboundary surface waters and groundwaters. Thirty-seven States and the European Union are Parties to the Water Convention. The Convention was amended in 2003 to open it to countries outside the UNECE region (including Afghanistan) to become Parties and the amendment is expected to enter into force by 2013.
The Amu Darya River, shared by Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, is one of the main rivers in Central Asia. It runs from the Pamir mountains to the Aral Sea. The Pyanj, an upstream tributary of the river, constitutes the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.