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UNECE and Global Water Partnership launch nexus assessment to promote a more sustainable use of natural resources in the Syr Darya River Basin

Published: 04 December 2014

On Thursday, 4 December 2014, a three-day workshop was concluded in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to assess the intersectoral and transboundary aspects of managing the water, land, ecosystem and energy resources of the Syr Darya River Basin shared by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The Syr Darya, one of the two main rivers feeding the Aral Sea, is under severe pressure from present water and land uses as well as increased temperatures owing to climate change. The aim of the workshop was to identify opportunities for benefits that different sectors and countries could achieve from increased cooperation and interaction.

Resource management is traditionally very sectoral and often undertaken in silos. Therefore, this event gathered a broad spectrum of stakeholders from the basin countries in a transboundary dialogue, including representatives of the agriculture and energy sectors, water and environment administrations, State companies and civil society. The programme was highly participatory, involving group work to develop ideas for an improved management of water, energy and agriculture. Possible future scenarios were also jointly discussed by the participants, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Government officials from basin countries painted a picture of a restricted efficiency in the use of natural resources, in many cases due to a lack of cooperation and interaction between sectors and countries. Energy and water deficits are common features in the basin, while at the same time basin ecosystems are under severe pressure. Several concrete areas were identified where joint action could reduce pressure on water and other resources. This included the improvement of water and energy efficiency and productivity, development of markets for resource trading as well as strengthening the legal basis for transboundary cooperation.

The workshop was a key step in the preparatory process for the assessment of water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus in the Syr Darya Basin focusing on the links, trade-offs and synergic benefits between those four key sectors/resources. As a follow-up to this workshop, selected options will be investigated in more detail. These will include new, dynamic, integrated approaches that will take advantage of synergies and cooperation.

The nexus assessment of the Syr Darya River Basin is part of a series of transboundary basin assessments being carried out in 2013–2015 within the framework of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention). These assessments aim to identify ways to reduce tensions between conflicting sectoral development objectives and to help countries move towards increased efficiency in resource use, greater policy coherence and co‑management.

The workshop was organized jointly with the Global Water Partnership and in cooperation with FAO.

More information on this area of work of the UNECE Water Convention can be found at:

Contact for additional information:

Ms. Annukka Lipponen, UNECE, Environment Division

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 2666, Email:

Note to editors:

In the Work Programme for 2013–2015 for the Water Convention, Parties included an assessment of the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus in selected transboundary basins. A Task Force on the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystem Nexus was established to overview and guide the assessment’s preparation. The Syr Darya is one of the transboundary basins assessed as part of this effort.

The organization of the workshop was supported by the Government of Finland.

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