As ORIENT already reported, an international conference was held in Ashgabat on the important role of water diplomacy in achieving the sustainable development of the countries of the Central Asian region. One of the participants of this forum, as well as many other international conferences held regularly in Turkmenistan, is the UN Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan Elena Panova. She said:
“I’m sure that combining the efforts of states in addressing environmental issues will allow developing effective mechanisms for ensuring environmental well-being at the regional and global levels.
One of the important elements of the ecological balance is the preservation, rational use and ensuring equal and inexpensive access to water resources. This important principle is also laid down in Sustainable Development Goal No. 6, which sounds: “Ensuring the availability and rational use of water resources and sanitation for all”.
I would like to note that success in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the world community and supported by Turkmenistan and other Central Asian countries, directly depends on how the objectives laid down in Goal No. 6 of the global Agenda until 2030 will be implemented.
Given the transboundary nature of water sources and the shortage of water in the region of Central Asia, this problem takes on special significance. Therefore, it is necessary to deepen the interaction of the countries of the region on this issue. It also includes the cooperation of the countries of the region within the framework of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea.
It is obvious that the preservation of the Aral Sea can no longer be considered as an internal and even as a regional problem. It has become global, for it directly affects climate change far beyond the region. To successfully tackle this problem, the participation of the entire world community is already required.
In this regard, I welcome the adoption of the second resolution of the UN General Assembly on cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, initiated by the President of Turkmenistan.
This resolution emphasizes the need to continue active and comprehensive consultations between the United Nations, the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and other interested parties in order to effectively implement regional environmental protection programs for sustainable development in Central Asia.
The adoption of the document demonstrates the desire of the world community to find long-term solutions to maintain sustainable natural balance and biodiversity, rational use of water resources, curb further climate change and mitigate its impact on the socio-economic factors of human activity.
The resolution of the UN General Assembly reflects the sequence of actions of the Turkmen government in the practical implementation of water diplomacy, whose role, more than ever, has become decisive in the context of the use of transboundary water resources.
As you know, for the first time, the important role of water diplomacy as a political and diplomatic form of multilateral cooperation in restoring water resources, their reasonable and rational consumption was announced by President Berdimuhamedov at the World Water Forum in the South Korean city of Daegu in April 2015.
It was then that Turkmenistan called on the states of Central Asia to solve water and energy problems on the basis of generally accepted norms of international law, taking into account the interests of each of the countries of the region and with the active participation of international organizations, primarily the UN.
I believe that such an approach can be a reliable basis for the development of cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea on the development of the UN Special Program for the Aral Sea Basin.
The UN is ready to provide its platform, expert support for international consultations in order to develop a Special Program for the Aral Sea Basin.
I want to note that the UN provides active assistance to the states of the region in the development and implementation of various programs and projects. They are aimed at supporting climate-resilient livelihoods in drought-prone agricultural communities, strengthening the resilience potential of the population affected by the Aral Sea crisis through introducing effective management models, improving the economic environment, and improving education and health care systems.
They also aim at promoting a regional dialogue on water management, restoration of saline lands for agriculture, protection of biodiversity.
I can not fail to note the practical initiatives of the Turkmen government within the country on environmental protection and sustainable water resources management.
One of such projects is efforts to reduce the negative impact of drainage water on land resources through the diversion and integration of used water from the oases into a single hydraulic system. As you know, as a result of this project, the lake Altyn Asyr was formed in a natural depression, the water of which, as expected, can be reused for irrigation after its purification as a result of natural biological processes.
I also witnessed the laying of a new “green” village near this lake, whose residents will be able to engage in economic activities using the water resources of this lake. I am sure that the creation of the housing and production infrastructure near the lake will allow solving such important issues as employment of the population, development of the local economy, improvement of the well-being of local communities.
It is equally important that the development of this territory is accompanied by the use of modern environmental protection technologies in order to maintain the ecological balance in the region.
The UN is ready to assist in attracting the latest “green” technologies and modern methods of land reclamation in order to protect the environment and the rational use of water resources.
Cooperation of the states of the region, international organizations, including international financial institutions, on water issues is inextricably linked with issues of climate change.
As you know, in order to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contain climate change, the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. Turkmenistan ratified this agreement in October 2016.
In this regard, UN agencies support the government of Turkmenistan in preparing a new version of the National Climate Change Strategy, in order to comply with the provisions of the Paris Agreement and reflect the priorities of the national program for the socio-economic development of the country until 2025.
In September of this year, within the framework of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, the Secretary-General will hold a Summit on Climate Action. The summit will bring together heads of state and government to assess progress in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the achievements of the “climate” goals of sustainable development. The summit will also consider national projects of states that promote the use of renewable energy sources and create sustainable models of production, consumption and financing in the real sector of the economy, as well as increase resilience and adaptation to climate impacts.
I hope that the government of Turkmenistan will take part in the Summit and present its best solutions in the field of mitigation, adaptation and increasing sustainability. The United Nations offers its assistance in the preparation of the presentation of the national report that the country will submit in New York at the end of this year.