ARAL: NEW APPROACHES AND INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS
Tashkent has hosted an international conference “Joint actions to mitigate the consequences of the Aral catastrophe: new approaches, innovative solutions, investments”.
Taking into account the uniform composition of the participants, this conference was held during the Central Asian International Environmental Forum, held in the capital from June 5 to 8. It was organized by the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan in partnership with other domestic and international organizations, including the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFSAS), the Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia (RECCA) and others.
Participants of the international conference were deputies of parliaments and heads of ministries and departments of Central Asian countries, national and foreign scientists and specialists, representatives of IFSAS, RECCA, GIZ, UN agencies, COMSTECH, the Global Water Partnership, the World Bank and other leading financial institutions and international organizations, foreign companies.
As the participants of the international conference noted, the Aral crisis is recognized by the world community as a global problem. For more than 50 years, extensive negative environmental and socio-economic consequences of the drying up of the Aral Sea for the Central Asian region are widely known throughout the world. The Republic of Uzbekistan makes a significant and tangible contribution to mitigating the impact of the Aral catastrophe on the environment and health of the population of the Aral area. However, the scale of existing problems requires drawing the attention of the broad world public to measures aimed at restoring the ecosystems of the region and securing its sustainable development. The countries of the Aral Basin still feel the need for major investments and new technical and innovative solutions for systemic joint actions to stabilize the environmental situation in the Aral region, balanced development of the economy, addressing social issues and adapting the region’s population to climate change.
Thanks to the efforts of the leadership of Uzbekistan aimed at establishing good-neighborly relations with all the countries of Central Asia, in recent years some progress has been made in solving a number of complex regional issues, including the problems of water management and use. One of the priorities in Uzbekistan’s foreign policy, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, is precisely the solution of the issues of joint use of the region’s water resources and the unification of efforts in overcoming the consequences of the Aral Sea crisis. This is evidenced by the decisions of a number of international forums held recently and the results of bilateral and multilateral meetings of the leaders and delegations of the countries of Central Asia.
Participants noted that the international conference gave a new impetus to attracting investments and strengthening regional cooperation in the implementation of projects aimed at improving the state of the environment and living conditions of the population of the Aral Sea area.
Its objectives were: to harmonize, within the framework of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, the practical orientation and coordination of the activities of the countries of the region carried out to address the problems of the Aral area, to analyze and assess the ongoing programs to mitigate the consequences of the Aral catastrophe, to identify ways of cooperation in implementing projects aimed at improving environmental and socio-economic situation in the Aral region, as well as attracting investments for their implementation.
The participants of the conference on June 7 made a trip to the Aral zone – they visited Nukus, the ‘ship graveyard’ in the city of Muynak on the dried-up bоttom of the Aral Sea, where they got acquainted with the ecological situation in the region, met with local residents and representatives of state bodies and public organizations. This trip left an indelible impression on foreign guests.
And on June 8, general and panel sessions of the conference took place in Tashkent, where the activities of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and the new program of action on the problems of the Aral Basin, the issues of deepening cooperation between the countries of the region in the joint use of water resources of transboundary rivers in Central Asia, economic and social development zones of the Aral Sea area, creation and development of protected natural territories in this region, activation of forest reclamation works on the drained seabed and others.
The participants of the conference visited the Central Asian International Specialized Exhibition of Green Technologies Ecological Technologies Central Asia - GETCA 2018, took part in the business forum and meetings of employees of relevant ministries and departments, local government bodies with representatives of international financial institutions and organizations.
The forum approved a package of project proposals aimed at improving the environmental and socio-economic situation in the Aral region, for the implementation of which foreign investments and representatives of local businesses were involved.
The final document adopted at the conference, as well as proceedings of conference materials were sent to the parliaments and governments of the nations of Central Asia and foreign countries, international and public organizations.
During the forum, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between the UNDP Office in Uzbekistan, the State Forestry Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the IFSAS GEF Agency and the Executive Directorate of IFSAS in Kazakhstan on coordinating forest plantations on the drained bоttom of the Aral Sea, as well as the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan and the Permanent Committee on Cooperation in the Sphere of Science and Technology of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (COMSTECH) in the field of environmental protection.