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UNECE Seminar on International Water Cooperation opens in Tajikistan

Published: 14 March 2011


A two-day national seminar on international water cooperation opened today in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The seminar aims to discuss the role of international law, including the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), in strengthening international cooperation on water resources management.

The seminar is being held in the wider context of the upcoming International Year of Water Cooperation (2013), declared by the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution initiated by Tajikistan.

It is estimated that 64 billion cubic metres (m3) of water are formed annually in Tajikistan, stemming from precipitation and melting glaciers, which, along with snowfields, constitute a huge reserve of water (estimated at 845 billion m3, covering 8 per cent of the territory). These waters drain mainly into the Amudarya River basin, and from there to the Aral Sea. In fact, water from Tajikistan represents 55 per cent of the total flow in the Aral Sea basin, which is shared by the five Central Asian States — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — as well as by Afghanistan. This puts Tajikistan at the core of Central Asia’s political stakes surrounding the use and allocation of water resources.

Few countries in the world can match the hydropower potential of Tajikistan, and hydropower is Tajikistan’s greatest economic resource. At present, however, only 5 per cent of its economically feasible potential is exploited through large and small hydropower plants. Tajikistan’s plans to develop new hydropower stations are the central focus of the regional debate over the use of water and energy resources. The impacts of climate change and the expected increase in water use by Afghanistan is a challenging background for developing long-term solutions for regional cooperation over shared waters.

Seminar participants will discuss the mechanisms of international water law, and the place and role of the UNECE Water Convention in facilitating the effective transboundary water cooperation of Tajikistan and the promotion of cooperation over shared water resources in the Central Asian region. The seminar will deepen understanding of the Convention’s provisions and of its benefits for the region. Participants will also have an opportunity to find out about the role of the UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) in ensuring cooperative and sustainable management of shared water resources.

The seminar is being organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Melioration and Water Resources of the Republic of Tajikistan. 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 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH under the Berlin Water Process, with additional financial support from Switzerland.

The seminar will be followed by the first meeting of the Steering Committee of the National Policy Dialogue on integrated water resources management in Tajikistan on 16 March. This 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 the national, as well as the local and international levels. The National Policy Dialogue promotes water sector reforms through strengthening dialogue and cooperation between all interested ministries, agencies and institutions, including academia and the non-governmental sector, as well as international organizations active in the country.

For further information please visit:

Contact information:

Bo Libert
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.

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, the Caucasus and Central Asia. This initiative was launched in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. At present, National Policy Dialogues are being implemented in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) 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 GIZ under the Berlin Water Process to optimize cooperation in the Central Asian water sector and improve the lives of people in the region.

Ref: ECE/ENV/11/P07

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