Climate Challenges for Central Asia: Answers Discussed in Ashgabat

Climate Challenges for Central Asia: Answers Discussed in Ashgabat

Climatic challenges faced by the planet do not know the administrative boundaries, but geographic connectivity makes them a belt of active cooperation. This was discussed at a scientific seminar held on Tuesday, November 26 in Ashgabat on a program to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects in the Aral Sea basin (CAMP4ASB). Organized by its Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia.

“Today, the problem of climate change is one of the most urgent, and in order to solve it, it is necessary to interact with each other both at the system-wide and intersectoral levels, given the transboundary nature of the effects of climate change on societies and the environment,” said Irina Bekmirzaeva, project manager.

Climatic risks in the Central Asian region include increasing temperature standards, changing periods of abnormally hot weather and excessive rainfall, melting glaciers, which can lead to a chain of environmental, biophysical, social and economic challenges. In Central Asia, this is manifested by drought. There is a growing risk of sea level rise, hurricanes and other extreme weather events, as well as serious water shortages and desertification.

The main reason for the region’s vulnerability is that the economies of Central Asian countries are largely dependent on natural resources. Freshwater supplies are especially important. The key Central Asian rivers — the Amu Darya, Syr Darya, Vakhsh, Zeravshan and others — originate in the Pamir glaciers. They feed the entire region and give life to tens of millions of people.

– Water resources here are formed on the basis of glaciers from a snow horseshoe. According to various studies, over the next century, glaciers will melt with an intensity of 50 to 70% of the current state,” said Gayane Minasyan, a leading specialist in ecology and natural resources of the World Bank in Central Asia.

The consequences can be quite serious. For example, in Uzbekistan, one of the region’s most water-dependent countries, water scarcity will increase by 30% in 20 years, experts say. Therefore, transboundary water management is becoming a priority in cooperation.

The program on adaptation to climate change and mitigation of its consequences in the Aral Sea basin, implemented in the period from 2016 to 2021, CAREC, is aimed at solving environmental problems and challenges in Central Asian countries. At this stage of the project, national consultations have already been held, as well as a regional meeting.

– We, as representatives of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, are ready to continue to provide assistance and support to achieve sustainable project results. Indeed, climate change issues are a priority not only for Turkmenistan, but for the entire region as a whole,” said Guychgeldy Badjanov, Chairman of the IFAS Executive Committee in Turkmenistan.

As noted today, in order to reduce the negative impact of climate change on the economy of Central Asia, it is necessary to increase the coordination of actions and the efficient use of energy resources and environmental protection. In order to create common mechanisms for managing joint problems, it will be necessary to formulate long-term strategies in this area. After all, the countries of Central Asia are connected not only geographically, but also institutionally, have similar traditions and historical experience in water use.

Participants in the scientific seminar included representatives of ministries and departments of Central Asian countries, research institutes, non-governmental and international organizations, etc.