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Eighth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention

10 - 12 October 2018

Astana, Kazakhstan

Biodiversity and Transboundary Cooperation


Date and time: Friday 12 October, 8.30-9.45am
Location: Astana EXPO Congress Center, Room n°1. Syr Darya
Languages: English and Russian

Event description:

This session will focus on the importance and value of transboundary water cooperation for biodiversity. The case will be made by highlighting the efforts in the Ili-Balkhash region. In 2018 the Government of Kazakhstan designated a new nature reserve in southwestern Ili-Balkhash (415,2 thousand hectares), which will restore the riparian forest habitat bordering Lake Balkhash.
The Ili-Balkhash also holds important significance for one of Central Asia’s most iconic species, the tiger. In 2017, the Republic of Kazakhstan announced plans to bring the iconic cats back to their historical range and signed a memorandum with WWF to implement a joint tiger reintroduction plan.
The reintroduction is a groundbreaking plan to return these majestic felines to their ancestral home, where they can roam freely and safely. If successful, Kazakhstan will be the first country in the world to bring wild tigers back to Central Asia where they have been extinct for nearly half a century.
However the success of the reintroduction program is dependent on transboundary water cooperation as a significant portion of the tiger’s habitat is dependent on the effective management of transboundary rivers. Kazakhstan’s program will require the restoration of an immense riparian forest that is part of the wild tiger’s historical range. This reserve will protect existing wildlife, increase density (wild boar) and reintroduce tiger prey species (Bukhara deer), and safeguard this vital ecosystem.

This session will look to highlight the following:

  • The value and role of the Water Convention in conserving biodiversity.
  • The future threats to freshwater resources in the region and the role of the Water Convention in mitigating these threats. Specifically discussing the risks posed by the Belt and Road Initiative


8:30-8:40Welcome and Session OverviewMr. Dean Muruven, Global Policy Lead Freshwater: WWF
8:40-8:55Case study: Chu and Talas Rivers: cooperation between Kazakhstan and KyrgyzstanMrs. Gulmira Satymkulova, Head of the Kyrgyzstan Section, Secretary of Transboundary Water Commission: Chu and Talas Rive
8:55-9:10Overview of the tiger reintroduction program and the value of the Water ConventionMr. Gregory Mazmaniants, Director WWF Central Asia
9:10-9:25Biodiversity, ecosystem services and transboundary water cooperation in the context of Belt and Road InitiativeDr. Eugene Simonov, Rivers without Boundaries
9:25-9:45Facilitated panel discussionAll presenters, facilitated by WWF