On November 30, 2023, the first meeting on establishing Amu Darya and Syr Darya River Basin Dialogues was held in Tashkent within the framework of the Regional Programme “Climate-Sensitive Water Resources Management in Central Asia” commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The Programme is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
The Programme was developed as part of the Green Central Asia Initiative in accordance with the Regional Action Plan on a joint political dialogue on climate, environment and security, agreed upon by the Central Asian countries in November 2021. The main goal of the Programme is to strengthen the capacity of national and regional organisations responsible for water resources management to implement climate-sensitive integrated water resources management at the regional level.
The focus of the Programme is to support complementary approaches to integrated water resources management (IWRM); one of them is the transboundary river basin dialogue, which brings together relevant national and regional stakeholder groups.
The objectives of the meeting were:
- Strengthening the dialogue between national bodies responsible for the river basin management including water resources, environment, energy, agriculture and other stakeholders in the Amu Darya and Syr Darya River Basins in order to improve regional cooperation and discuss climate-sensitive IWRM methods.
- fostering regional cooperation through the development of monitoring and planning tools based on the principles of climate-sensitive IWRM in agreement with national competent authorities.
Mr. Ilkhom Jurayev, Head of Information-Analytical and Resource Center of the Ministry of Water Resources of the Republic of Uzbekistan greeted the participants as representative of the host country.
Opening the meeting, Dr. Michael Wimmer, Head of Cooperation of the German Embassy in Uzbekistan said: ‘We want to promote regional and cross-sectoral cooperation among all involved stakeholders to strengthen socio-economic development, protect the environment, fight climate change and ultimately make water management more efficient for the benefit of the population of the Aral Sea Basin’. Ms. Rahel Göbel-Bösch, Deputy Head of Mission/Head of Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland in Uzbekistan highlighted the importance of the river basin dialogue: “The today’s platform offers space for open discussions, creating the foundation for joint regional more effective use of water resources..
Dr. Caroline Milow, Programme Manager presented the general concept of the programme component 1. Thereafter, Mr. Alexander Nikolayenko, Senior Regional Advisor for the Programme dived deeper into the component and presented the goals and objectives of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya River Basin Dialogue, as well as the selection and discussion of priorities for them.
The meeting was attended by authorised representatives appointed from each Central Asian country (representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Central Asia, relevant line ministries), as well as representatives of the international partners of the Programme.
“…The Leaders of States underlined the importance of combating climate change and taking measures to adapt to its effects, as provided by the German Green Central Asia Initiative, which represents the Joint German approach to climate adaption in Central Asia. In order to develop best practices in close cooperation with their Central Asian partners, German ministries support the key topics with diverse projects in the sectors of water resources and climate risk management, energy, agriculture but also related vocational training, research and green economy...” - excerpt from the Joint Declaration by Heads of State of Central Asia and the Federal Chancellor of Germany dated September 29, 2023.
“…In accordance with Switzerland’s Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23 and International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24, the Swiss commitment to Central Asia focuses on supporting economic, social and democratic development, promoting an integrated and regional approach in the complex field of transboundary water management, strengthening economic ties, and promoting good governance … Given increasing pressure on natural resources and the conflict dynamics related to water, the [Swiss Cooperation Programme Central Asia 2022–25] will continue to rely on a hydro-diplomacy approach in the region, viewing water as an instrument for peace and encouraging actors to see the socio-economic benefits of water cooperation. ” excerpt from the Swiss Cooperation Programme Central Asia 2022–25 (page 9 and 17).