On Commencement Of Astana's Chairmanship In International Fund For Saving The Aral Sea

(MENAFN- Trend News Agency) BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 25. The Chairperson ofthe Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving theAral Sea (IFAS), in which Kazakhstan holds the chairmanship for2024-2026, has published an article about the activities ofIFAS.

"I would like to share with the audience information about theactivities of IFAS aimed at improving the situation in the Aral Seabasin and serving the interests of the peoples and states ofCentral Asia for 30 years.

In modern realities, with ubiquitous population growth, rapideconomic development of states, and an increase in waterconsumption per capita, the burden on the environment is steadilyincreasing an intensification of anthropogenic impact provokesand accelerates the processes of global climate change CentralAsia, all these processes are proceeding at a faster pace than theglobal average. The ecological crisis in the Aral Sea basin isaccompanied by progressive scarcity and pollution of waterresources, land degradation and desertification of vastterritories, loss of forests, eco-landscapes and biodiversity. On ahuge area of the dried–up bottom of the Aral Sea, a new desert hasformed - Aralkum, with a size of more than 54 thousand squarekilometers (for comparison:it is comparable to the territory ofCroatia and much larger than Estonia, Denmark, the Netherlands andSwitzerland).

In these tense conditions, it is highly relevant for the CentralAsian States to elaborate new mechanisms for developing cooperationin the region main goal of the chairmanshipof the Republic ofKazakhstan in the IFAS is to further increase the level ofcooperation on the integrated use and protection of waterresources, solving environmental problems, socio-economic aspectsand introducing elements of a "green" economy in Central Asiancountries.

During the period of Kazakhstan's chairmanship, we will continueto implement two main programs approved by the IFAS Board: Aral SeaBasin Program-4 (ASBP-4)and its systematic monitoring, as well asthe Regional Environmental Protection Program for the SustainableDevelopment of Central Asia (REPPSD CA). The period ofimplementation of the both Programs - until 2030.

The environmental problem of the Aral Sea began to appear in the1960s and 1970s, which has led to the fact that there ispractically nothing leftfromthe 4th largest lake on our planet. Atfirst, the Aral Sea was divided into two reservoirs, then intothree and ...

During the years of Independence, Kazakhstan, with the supportof the World Bank, carried out comprehensive work and was able torestore a little part – the Small Aral or the Northern Aral Sea,but this is only about 8% of its original value. The port city ofAralsk is still far from the water, which at first went 100 kmaway, but after the measures taken it came much closer.

Particles and dust of salts and toxic chemicals left on thedrained bottom of the Aral Sea are found not only in the Tien Shanand Pamir mountains, but also far beyond the borders of our region order to reduce the removal of harmful substances, the countriesof the Aral Sea region are actively engaged in phytomeliorativemeasures, planting of saxaul(Haloxylon) and othervegetation.

But are plantings on the former bottom of the reservoir soeffective? What is the current state of ecosystems? As it is known,due to several low-water years in a row, the flow along the SyrDarya has decreased and the volume of water in the Northern AralSea has lessenedfrom a maximum of 27 to 20 cubic kilometers. Thecatch of fish has declinedand this has a negative impact on theemployment of the local population. The morbidity rate of thepopulation is growing again due to desertification anddeterioration of water quality... Will the tragedy happen again? Whatare the moods and plans of the locals? There are a lot of questionsand they are all interconnected.

I believe that we need to study the full range of problems andongoing work, to update them and to try to solve them as soon aspossibleand more effectively.

In the Aral Sea Basin Program-4 (ASBP-4), which I mentionedearlier, the environmental direction is highlighted as a separatemain area, consisting of 12 project proposals.

I would like to note that joint actions are envisaged to adaptto climate change, including measures to adapt the most vulnerablesectors: water and agriculture, drinking water, energy,biodiversity, forest, pastures and mountain ecosystems wasenvisaged to develop a regional action plan for adaptation toclimate change and, thanks to the support of the Program of theGerman Society for International Cooperation GIZ "Green CentralAsia", five of our countries have developed and adopted a RegionalStrategy for Adaptation to Climate Change in Central Asia.

It also provides for the dissemination of the bestclimate-adapted agricultural practices. We will have to develop aregional program for the protection of biological resources inCentral Asia, implement measures to preserve and restore ecosystemsin the basins of our main rivers – the Amudarya and the Syrdarya,and continue systematic forest plantations in the Aral Sea region(Priaralye)zone and on the drained bottom of the AralSea.

The following environmental projects provide for the developmentof a system for monitoring the state of the environment and waterresources in the Aral Sea region (Priaralye)and on thedrained seabed; the development of environmental innovations andtechnologies in the Aral Sea region (Priaralye)zone.

I consider such a project as "Improvement of water quality inrivers and reservoirs, taking into account international standards,elimination and prevention of pollution, including industrialwaste" to be very important. Kazakhstan and other countries areworking on joining the Protocol on Water and Health to theConvention on the Protection and Use of transboundary watercoursesand international lakes, and Uzbekistan has recently joined it.

Reducing the risks of natural disasters associated with floods,mudflows and droughts in the Aral Sea basin, studying the state ofglaciers in the upper reaches of transboundary rivers, developingtransboundary eco-corridors, regional networks of speciallyprotected natural areas for the conservation of biodiversity is farfrom an incomplete list of those projects that we must promoteduring our IFAS chairmanship.

If we talk about new initiatives that will be carried out withinthe framework of Kazakhstan's chairmanship in the IFAS, then thisis the creation of a long-term and sustainable regional cooperationmechanism for the effective use of water and energy resources inCentral Asia, taking into account the interests of all countries inthe region in the fields of irrigation, hydropower and ecology.

Systematic work is also needed to implement a unified automatedsystem for accounting, monitoring, management and distribution ofwater resources in the Aral Sea basin of the Republic ofKazakhstan Kassym-JomartTokayevat a meeting of the Council of Headsof States-Founders of theIFAS held on September 15, 2023 inDushanbe, called on the parties to begin implementing theseinitiatives.

Strengthening regional cooperation with internationaldevelopment partners, UN structural entities, financialinstitutions and the donor community plays an important role isworthwhile to intensify activities within the framework ofgenerally accepted international environmental conventions, actionplans, declarations and joint statements.

In the period of 2024-2026 Kazakhstan will take measures toimplement the instructions and agreements reached by the Heads ofStatesat the IFAS Summit on September 15, 2023 in Dushanbe, as wellas previously concluded agreements and commitments, which willensure the consistency of Central Asia's actions to achieve theglobal SDGs and its positioning as a single region," he wrote.


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