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HomeUncategorizedTo save the Aral Sea... Kazakhstan achieves the global sustainable development goals

To save the Aral Sea… Kazakhstan achieves the global sustainable development goals

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ASTANA – Askhat Orazbay, the Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), revealed that Kazakhstan, as the current president of the Fund until 2026, will take measures to implement the instructions and agreements reached by the Heads of States at the IFAS Summit on September 15, 2023 in Dushanbe, as well as previously concluded agreements and commitments, which will ensure the consistency of Central Asia’s actions to achieve the global SDGs and its positioning as a single region.

Mr. Orazbay also revealed new initiatives that will be implemented within the framework of Kazakhstan’s presidency of the International Financial Services Forum and said:” If we talk about new initiatives that will be carried out within the framework of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in the IFAS, then this is the creation of a long-term and sustainable regional cooperation mechanism for the effective use of water and energy resources in Central Asia, taking into account the interests of all countries in the region in the fields of irrigation, hydropower and ecology”.

In modern realities, with ubiquitous population growth, rapid economic development of states, and an increase in water consumption per capita, the burden on the environment is steadily increasing. Such an intensification of anthropogenic impact provokes and accelerates the processes of global climate change. In Central Asia, all these processes are proceeding at a faster pace than the global average. The ecological crisis in the Aral Sea basin is accompanied by progressive scarcity and pollution of water resources, land degradation and desertification of vast territories, loss of forests, eco-landscapes and biodiversity. On a huge area of the dried–up bottom of the Aral Sea, a new desert has formed – Aralkum, with a size of more than 54 thousand square kilometres, he added

He added: “Kazakhstan is also making continuous efforts to reduce the risks of natural disasters associated with floods, mudflows and droughts in the Aral Sea basin, studying the state of glaciers in the upper reaches of transboundary rivers, developing transboundary eco-corridors, regional networks of specially protected natural areas for the conservation of biodiversity is far from an incomplete list of those projects that we must promote during our IFAS chairmanship”.

Orazbay explained: “it is highly relevant for the Central Asian States to elaborate new mechanisms for developing cooperation in the region. The main goal of the chairmanship of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the IFAS is to further increase the level of cooperation on the integrated use and protection of water resources, solving environmental problems, socio-economic aspects and introducing elements of a “green” economy in Central Asian countries.

“During the period of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship, we will continue to implement two main programs approved by the IFAS Board: Aral Sea Basin Program-4 (ASBP- 4) and its systematic monitoring, as well as the Regional Environmental Protection Program for the Sustainable Development of Central Asia (REPPSD CA). The period of implementation of the both Programs – until 2030”. He added

Orazbay said: “The environmental problem of the Aral Sea began to appear in the 1960s and 1970s, which has led to the fact that there is practically nothing left from the 4th largest lake on our planet. At first, the Aral Sea was divided into two reservoirs, then into three and during the years of Independence, Kazakhstan, with the support of the World Bank, carried out comprehensive work and was able to restore a little part – the Small Aral or the Northern Aral Sea, but this is only about 8% of its original value. The port city of Aralsk is still far from the water, which at first went 100 km away, but after the measures taken it came much closer”.

I consider such a project as “Improvement of water quality in rivers and reservoirs, taking into account international standards, elimination and prevention of pollution, including industrial waste” to be very important. Kazakhstan and other countries are working on joining the Protocol on Water and Health to the Convention on the Protection and Use of transboundary watercourses and international lakes, and Uzbekistan has recently joined it.

Systematic work is also needed to implement a unified automated system for accounting, monitoring, management and distribution of water resources in the Aral Sea basin. President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at a meeting of the Council of Heads of States-Founders of the IFAS held on September 15, 2023 in Dushanbe, called on the parties to begin implementing these initiatives. Strengthening regional cooperation with international development partners, UN structural entities, financial institutions and the donor community plays an important role. It is worthwhile to intensify activities within the framework of generally accepted international environmental conventions, action plans, declarations and joint statements.

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