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UNECE and Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development strengthen cooperation for environmental protection in Central Asia

Published: 24 October 2019

The countries of Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - are facing an increased vulnerability of natural ecosystems. Yet, the socio-economic development of these countries is very much dependent on natural resources, particularly those – such as water resources - with a transboundary nature. In the past, limited cooperation between the countries on these issues has hindered the identification and implementation of joint solutions in addressing shared environmental challenges in the region. But the interest for closer cooperation is now clearly expressed on the highest political levels, bringing new opportunities to develop a regional vision, culture and mindset for environmental cooperation.

To help realize this potential, UNECE has signed an agreement with the Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development (ICSD), a key platform for environmental cooperation in Central Asia under the International Fund for saving the Aral Sea (IFAS).

The Memorandum of Understanding signed today in Nukus, Uzbekistan, at the ICSD’s annual session, provides a framework for cooperation and to facilitate collaboration on the shared goals and objectives of environmental protection and sustainable development in Central Asia.

This aims to advance progress in Central Asia on environment-related Sustainable Development Goals, strengthening environmental governance, green economy and resource efficiency, climate change adaptation, biodiversity and ecosystem management, water quality and waste management, and other priority areas on regional and national levels.

The two organizations will also work together to harness further opportunities for cooperation, learning and exchange including the UNECE Regional Forum for Sustainable Development and the Environment for Europe process.

The MoU provides for an opportunity for the development and implementation of joint sub-regional initiatives, programmes and projects, in close cooperation with other international, regional and national partners and organizations such as the Central Asian Regional Environment Center (CAREC), UNEP, UNDP, SIC ICWC, GIZ, OSCE and OECD.

One potential area of cooperation is to support the development of the Strategy on Water, Energy and Environment under the UN Special Programme for Economies of Central Asia (SPECA), following the endorsement of the concept earlier this month.

This could offer possible synergies to support the implementation of the Regional Environmental Programme for Sustainable Development in Central Asia.

Strengthening cooperation on environmental protection in Central Asian countries requires “a coherent and mutually reinforcing implementation approach to achieve synergy, complementarity and sustainability”, stressed Mr. Kire Ilioski, Director, Office of the Executive Secretary, UNECE. “This Memorandum of Understanding provides a solid basis for such cooperation”, he added, emphasizing UNECE’s experience in supporting countries to address environmental challenges, including environmental governance, strengthening environmental performance, enabling informed decision-making.

Mr Bakhrom Kuchkarov, Chairman of the State Committee on Ecology and Natural Resources of Uzbekistan, and new Chair of ICSD, stated “the signing of a number of agreements with UN entities will contribute to strengthening regional cooperation in the region”. He stressed that “the political will and active position of the leaders of our countries aimed at strengthening the integration processes in Central Asia to address the most important regional problems, and ensuring mutually beneficial cooperation between the countries, sets a new pace for further improving the effectiveness of regional structures.”

Note to editors

About UNECE

Through its Multilateral Environmental Agreements – covering water cooperation, air pollution, public participation in environmental matters, industrial safety and environmental assessment – together with comprehensive policy support and capacity building, UNECE works closely with the countries of the region to strengthen environmental governance as a key foundation for sustainable development.

About the Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development

The Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development (ICSD) was established in 1994 by a Decision of the Interstate Council for the Aral Sea. The main purpose of the Commission is to coordinate and manage regional cooperation on environment and sustainable development in countries of Central Asia. Its tasks include developing a regional strategy for sustainable development, and programmes and plans for sustainable development, as well as coordinating activities to implement obligations of the Central Asian States under environmental conventions of a transboundary dimension.


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