A two-day national seminar on integrated water resources’ management and transboundary water cooperation opened today in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. This seminar aims to discuss the role of UNECE’s environmental conventions in strengthening water management at national and transboundary levels and to lay down the foundations for developing a National Policy Dialogue on Integrated Water Resources Management in Turkmenistan.
With the Kara Kum desert occupying around 80 percent of Turkmenistan’s territory, water management issues are of particular importance for the country. Almost all its regions suffer from water deficits, with the exception of a narrow strip of irrigated land along the middle reaches of the Amudarya. Water resources mainly come from the agreed water shares of four transboundary rivers: Amudarya, Murgab, Tedjen and Atrek, with Amudarya supplying almost 90% of the total supply. Groundwater resources are unevenly available throughout the country’s territory.
Irrigated agriculture is the main water consumer in Turkmenistan, with some 90% of the available water (up to 9,500 cubic meters per hectar).
Transboundary water cooperation is highly relevant for Turkmenistan which borders Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Afghanistan. While actively developing bilateral cooperation on transboundary waters, Turkmenistan also participates in the regional cooperation mechanisms on the Aral Sea basin. The challenges of climate change and the expected increase in water use by Afghanistan is a challenging background for developing long-term solutions for cooperation over shared waters.
Seminar participants will discuss the principles and some practical examples of integrated water resources’ management. Since Turkmenistan is considering accession to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, the seminar will provide an opportunity to deepen the understanding of this legal instrument and its obligations.
Participants will also have an opportunity to find out about the mechanisms of two other UNECE Conventions – the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) and the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents – since their provisions are also used to ensure cooperative and sustainable management of shared water resources.
Discussion will also focus on formulating proposals with regard to developing the National Policy Dialogue in Turkmenistan. Such dialogue in the framework of the European Union’s Water Initiative is a tool for implementing the principles of integrated water resources’ management, including the basin approach, at local, national and international levels, based on the consultations and dialogue with all interested ministries, agencies and institutions, including academia and the non-governmental sector.
The seminar is being organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Water Economy of Turkmenistan. It takes place in the framework of the programme “Regional Dialogue and Cooperation on Water Resources Management in Central Asia”, financed by the Government of Germany through Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) in the framework of the Berlin Water Process, and in the framework of the European Union’s Water Initiative, with additional financial support from Switzerland.
For further information please visit: www.unece.org/env/water
UNECE Regional Adviser on Environment
Tel.: +41 (0)22 917 2396
Note to editors:
The 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. In Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are Parties to this instrument.
The UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) of 1991 sets out the obligations of its 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. Forty-four States and the European Union are Parties to this instrument. In Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are Parties.
The Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents of 1992 aims at preventing industrial accidents as well as preparing and responding to it should an accident occur. An Assistance Programme operates under the Convention to help countries with economies in transition to implement the Convention and to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and experience on industrial safety. Thirty-nine States and the European Union participate in the Convention. In Central Asia, Kazakhstan is a Party to this instrument.
National Policy Dialogues on Integrated Water Resources Management and on Water Supply and Sanitation are the main tools in implementation of the European Union’s Water Initiative in countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. This initiative was launched in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. In present, National Policy Dialogues are implemented in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH is an international cooperation enterprise for sustainable development with worldwide operations, which supports the German Government in achieving its development policy objectives.
The Berlin Water Process was launched at the first “Water Unites” conference (Berlin, 1 April 2008). The Process is an important part of the water and environment pillar of the European Union’s Central Asia Strategy. The Transboundary Water Management in Central Asia Programme is implemented by GTZ under the Berlin Water Process to optimize cooperation in the Central Asian water sector and improve the lives of people in the region.
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
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