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UNECE supports improved management of water information in Central Asia

Published: 10 July 2012

Participants in a knowledge exchange workshop, “Strengthening Analysis for Integrated and Adaptive Water Resources Management”, held from 4 to 6 July in Almaty, adopted the principles and directions for a medium-term (three-to-five year) road map to develop water data management, as well as modelling of water flow, use and other aspects in the Aral Sea Basin. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) — building on its numerous multilateral environmental agreements applicable in the region in the areas of water, public participation and access to information, industrial accidents and environmental impact assessment — will play an active role in the implementation of relevant parts of the road map.

The workshop, organized by the World Bank, the Swiss Development Corporation and UNECE, brought together some 50 Government representatives and experts from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as regional organizations and donors.

At the workshop, participants underlined the importance of reliable information for the integrated management of water resources in Central Asia. For the future it was a challenge to combine available data, such as publicly available satellite imagery, with national and local data. Improved exchange of comparable data between the countries in Central Asia, dependent on each other for their shared waters, was also highlighted. It was also agreed to develop a set of linked models for the Aral Sea Basin for the analysis on different levels: Aral Sea Basin, individual rivers, sub-basins and countries. Those models should serve both short-term operational purposes, like flood control and agreement of water release regimes, and long-term planning, including on economic and social issues. Participants moreover emphasized the need for further analysis and modelling in the development of national and regional strategies for climate change adaptation.

When discussing institutional and legal aspects, participants highlighted the importance of easy-to-interpret information for efficient decision-making and for the public, as well as the necessity to develop a coherent legal basis for regional cooperation in information management.

Results of the project, Regional Dialogue and Cooperation on Water Resources Management in Central Asia, which is implemented by UNECE, in particular proposals on the modernization and strengthening of regional institutions and legal frameworks, as well as water monitoring and data exchange, also served as a background to the discussions. The meeting also built on experiences from the UNECE participation in the Central Asian Regional Water Information Base (CAREWIB) project.

For more information please contact

Mr. Bo Libert, UNECE
Phone: +41 (0)22 917 2396
E-mail:, or

Mr. Marton Krasznai, UNECE
Phone: +41 (0)22 917 2760

Note to editors

The UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of International Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) 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 EU are Parties to the Water Convention.

The UNECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents aims to prevent accidents from occurring, or reducing their frequency and severity and mitigating their effects if required. The Convention promotes active international cooperation between countries, before, during and after an industrial accident.

The Aarhus Convention (the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters) grants the public rights and imposes on Parties and public authorities obligations regarding access to information and public participation and access to justice.

The Espoo (EIA) Convention sets out the obligations of Parties to assess the environmental impact of certain activities at an early stage of planning. It also lays down the general obligation of States to notify and consult each other on all major projects under consideration that are likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact across boundaries.

The CAREWIB project, implemented by the Scientific Information Centre of the Inter-State Commission for Water Coordination and funded by Switzerland, improves the availability and exchange of information in the water and environmental sectors in Central Asia. The project is making information flow on water issues more efficient and transparent.

The goal of the project “Regional Dialogue and Cooperation on Water Resources Management”, funded by the German Government, is 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.

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Palais des Nations, 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44

Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05