A workshop on transboundary water management in Central Asia is being organized from 13 to 15 October 2010 in Almaty to help tackle some of the problems causing tensions between different uses and users of water by providing an accurate picture of the state of shared water resources in the region. Representatives and experts from 10 countries — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mongolia and the Russian Federation — will work together on updating the information on main transboundary basins and groundwater resources.
For Kazakhstan, in particular, as a predominantly downstream country and with seven out of its eight major river basins being transboundary, addressing the possible problems in a cooperative and mutually agreeable manner is important. In many cases, frictions occur because of a lack of accurate information on the condition of waters in the region. Thus, availability of sound data and sharing them is a prerequisite for reaching a common understanding about the situation and factors that negatively impact on water resources and ultimately cooperating to improve the status of waters.
From the workshop, a picture of the state of transboundary waters in Central Asia is expected to emerge, with joint priorities and challenges identified. The resulting assessment will inform, guide and stimulate further action by Governments, river basin organizations, the international community, including donors, and relevant non-governmental organizations.
Among the topical issues that will be discussed are water quantity and water allocations; water quality; climate change and its impact on water resources; legal and institutional frameworks for transboundary water cooperation; and land degradation and water-related ecosystems.
The workshop is part of the process of preparing the second Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters under United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. The assessment report is foreseen to be one of the key inputs to the seventh “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference, which is to be held in September 2011 in Astana, Kazakhstan. The workshop is organized by UNECE in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment Protection of Kazakhstan, the International Water Assessment Centre (IWAC) hosted by the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute and the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC).
Note to Editors
The First Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters in the UNECE Region, prepared under the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), was successfully launched at the Sixth “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference (Belgrade, 2007). The Ministerial Conference required the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention to prepare the second Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters for the Seventh Ministerial Conference that will be held in September 2011 in Astana. Especially as sustainable management of water and water-related ecosystems is one of the two main themes of the Ministerial Conference, the second Assessment will be one of the key inputs to it.
Compared to the first one, the second Assessment will be broader in ambitions and scope: it will have a more holistic approach, integrate surface and groundwaters, highlight legal, institutional and socio-economic aspects and emphasize cross-cutting themes that are a challenge for transboundary waters, in particular the impacts of and adaptation to climate change.
The Assessment is based on information provided by the countries of the region through nominated national experts. Where active, river basin and lake commissions also play an important role in providing a balanced and accurate view of pertinent issues within basins.
The activities of the Second Assessment are already being finalized in South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Eastern and Northern Europe. Work on Western Europe will commence after the completion of the Central Asian part of the Assessment.
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