ALMATY – For the first time the issues of transboundary water resources management were discussed by 10 Central Asian and neighboring countries during the regional meeting on strengthening intersectoral collaboration on water management and strengthening the role of water for sustainable development. Official representatives of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as the experts on energy, water, environment and health issues from each country took part in the meeting.

Over the past 30 years, the countries of the vast Cental Asian region have come to understanding that they are or will soon face the problem of shortage of fresh water and its deteriorating quality. This is largely due to the lack of coordination of actions across the concerned parties in water resources management.

In the context of growing demand for water, cooperation between water-related sectors, including water, agriculture, energy, environment and health, is particularly relevant. Cooperation can reduce the costs of uncoordinated actions and prevent adverse effects on the economy and environment.

At the meeting, the participants discussed the existing gaps and possible ways to develop intersectoral cooperation in water resources management at the regional level strengthening the role of water in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as develop regional proposals that can be supported within the framework of the future work programme of the International Water Assessment Centre (IWAC).

The European Union stressed the importance of respecting the strategic interests of all Central Asian and neighbouring countries, while promoting multilateral and regional frameworks of dialogue and increased adhesion to international conventions and legal principles governing the environment, trans-boundary resource management, and the consequences of the disappearance of the Aral Sea.

The meeting was organised by IWAC and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan with the support of the European Union funded project "EU-Central Asia Enhanced Regional Cooperation on Environment, Climate Change and Water" (WECOOP) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The proposals resulting from the regional meeting will be integrated into the future work programme of IWAC, which is planned to be implemented in 2019-2021 within the framework of the global strategy of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, a global instrument of water diplomacy.

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Reference: IWAC is an international centre for cooperation in integrated water resources management established in accordance with the decision of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (the Water Convention) on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The main mission of IWAC is to support the implementation of the Water Convention. In its activities, IWAC pays special attention to the countries of Central Asia as well as to those within and outside the UNECE region.