RESOLUTION CENTRAL ASIAN INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC-PRACTICAL CONFERENCE “THE 25 YEARS OF WATER COOPERATION IN CENTRAL ASIA: LESSONS LEARNT AND FUTURE OUTLOOK”
We, the representatives of ministries, departments, academia and the public of the Central Asian countries, and the representatives of regional and international organizations, gathered together in Tashkent on 23-24 November 2017 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination (ICWC) in Central Asia,
relying on the solid historical ties between the states of Central Asia, the centuries-old bonds of brotherhood and cooperation among the people in the region, based on mutual respect, trust, and openness,
noting with satisfaction the dynamic and progressive development of good-neighborly relations between the Central Asian states, as well as significant results achieved during the past twenty-five-year period,
following tthe agreements reached in the course of bilateral visits and consultations among the countries in the region and during the High-level International Conference “Central Asia: One Past and a Common Future, Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Mutual Prosperity” held under the auspices of the UN in Samarkand on the 11th of November 2017,
taking into account the importance of the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on declaration of the International decade for action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028,
building on the outcomes of events held as part of preparation to the ICWC anniversary, such as the International scientific-practical conference “Challenges and Prospects of Effective Water Management against the Backdrop of Globalization” (11-12 April 2017, Tashkent), International scientific-practical conference “Transboundary Cooperation in Central Asia – Sustainability and Prosperity of the Region” (7 September 2017, Almaty), International Conference “Blue Peace Central Asia: Dialogue for 2030 - Water Security and Inclusive Growth” (18-20 June 2017, Astana), regional consultations on the high-level water panel’s initiatives “International decade for action ‘Water for Sustainable Development’, 2018-2028” and “Valuing Water” (June 2017, Dushanbe), as well as meetings of working groups on the Implementation Plan on strengthening ICWC activities (6 June 2017 in Ashkhabad, 4-5 September 2017 in Tashkent, and 7 September 2017 in Almaty);
to further advance the regional dialogue for elaboration of harmonized approaches to integrated and mutually beneficial use of water resources in interstate sources to the benefit of all countries in the region,
having discussed the priority issues of regional water cooperation related to commitments made in the context of Sustainable Development Goals, themes of the 8th World Water Forum (Brasilia, March 2018) and directions of the Plan on strengthening ICWC activities,
State the following:
1. Water is central to sustainable regional development, being a key factor of water, food, energy, and environmental security and a catalyst of cooperation between the states in Central Asia.
2. The region’s countries have seen substantial progress in the area of water resources management at the interstate and national levels.
3. The ICWC of Central Asia, established upon initiative and in good faith of the region’s countries, plays the key role within IFAS in the promotion of interstate water cooperation in the region. Despite four dry and three extremely high-water years, conflicts were avoided thanks to cooperation under the aegis of the ICWC. Building on inextricable community and interconnectedness of water-management systems in Central Asia, the ICWC and its executive bodies have achieved significant results in the development of specific tools for cooperation.
4. Legal and institutional conditions were created in the Central Asian countries for implementation and development of the principles of integrated water resources management (IWRM): completed or on-going transition to hydrographic principle of water management, also through the establishment of basin administrations, councils and water user associations. It is recognized that IWRM is a key tool of “green growth”, climate adaptation and water-food-energy-environment nexus.
5. Measures were taken to promote up-to-date resource- and water saving technologies and best practices and for modernization and technical upgrade of irrigation systems.
6. Some progress has been achieved in improvement of water accounting in irrigation systems and along main canals.
7. The states of Central Asia, also with the support of development partners, continue activities related to water sector professional development.
8. The efforts are taken to protect and restore aquatic ecosystems, including restoration of the Northern Aral Sea, development of a system of small water bodies in Southern part of the Aral Sea and afforestation.
9. Reliability and safety of hydraulic structures are improved, also through good operating practices, repair and rehabilitation, and harmonization of technical rules for operation of these structures
10. At the same time, we are concerned that by 2030, the available freshwater per capita is expected to decrease in the Aral Sea basin in light of the declining water resources because of climate change and increased demands for water by growing population and national economies.
11. While acknowledging the importance of challenges of water, energy, and food security and climate adaptation that the region face, we express our readiness to further steps to reach fair and mutually beneficial agreements on the efficient and integrated use of water resources in interstate sources at the regional level and improve water management at the national level. Among other things, we believe that:
- Strengthen the capacity and operations of the ICWC and its executive bodies to more efficiently and timely implement their tasks and enhance cooperation within the framework of ICWC;
- Intensify the work to improve legal and institutional mechanisms for interstate water cooperation;
- Recognize the importance of strengthening bilateral and regional cooperation on rational and integrated use of water and energy resources in Central Asia, taking into account the interests of all of the regional states. With this view, regular consultations will be held to elaborate mutually beneficial long-term sustainable mechanisms in the field at the earliest date;
- Invite development partners to pay special attention to joint solution of water problems in Central Asian countries caused by drying up of the Aral Sea, climate change, ecosystem degradation and increased frequency of water-related disasters;
- Carry out all appropriate measures to improve water use efficiency in all sectors by paying special attention to reasonable and equitable use of water resources;
- Improve the efficacy of institutional mechanisms for involving all stakeholders in water governance decision-making process to improve the quality of services and save water;
- More actively involve at all levels of water use the public, including the young and women, in water resources management and promote the practice of saving and reusing the water;
- Introduce the principles of integrated water resources management at all levels, including at regional level based on interstate cooperation, and to adapt to climate change and green growth promotion;
- Take all possible measures to improve the quality and accuracy of water accounting;
- Improve the adaptation capacity of the countries' water sector to climate change impacts ;
- Exchange, wherever possible, data, information and knowledge in order to ensure openness and build trust among various stakeholders, sectors and countries;
- Assist relevant services in improving the reliability of water resources-related forecasts and, as possible, the openness of their exchange;
- Encourage the development and mutual exchange of scientific knowledge, forecasts and innovative technologies to improve management and planning of water resources use;
- Ensure inclusive and quality lifelong learning/education (training, retraining, and advanced training) for specialists of water management organizations at national and regional levels to improve water resources management efficiency and sustainable development as a whole;
- Make use of the advantages and the platform of the International Decade of Actions "Water for Sustainable Development", 2018-2028, and other platforms acceptable to countries to strengthen cooperation for the purposes of mutually agreed and mutually beneficial solution of the region's water and energy problems.
12. We acknowledge the significant contribution of the UN agencies, international financial institutions and other development partners in the support of country actions towards enhanced interstate water cooperation. We underline the importance of continuing substantive engagement in the spirit of partnership and shared responsibility.
13. The Conference’s participants also:
- Recognize the importance of strengthening of bilateral and regional cooperation on efficient and integrated water and energy use in Central Asia, taking into account the interests of all states in the region;
- Emphasize the need for regular consultations between the region’s states in order to elaborate the mutually beneficial, long-term sustainable mechanisms of joint efficient and integrated use of water and energy resources in Central Asia;
- Call for all stakeholders to continue consultations within the preparatory process of the 8th World Water Forum, as well as the Meeting of the Parties of the UNECE Convention on the use and protection of transboundary water courses and international lakes (10-12 October 2018, Astana);
- Welcome the initiative of the Tajik side to hold in Dushanbe in June 2018 a high-level meeting dedicated to the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028;
- Consider the results of given anniversary Conference as a contribution to the consolidated vision of the Central Asian region on the priority themes of the above mentioned events;
- Once again underlining urgency in finding solutions to the acutest problems of the Aral environmental catastrophe, call for consolidation of efforts at the regional and international levels and for donors’ support in overcoming further the problems in the Aral Sea basin.
We thank the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan, organizers and development partners for organization of this anniversary Conference in Tashkent and for an excellent setting for productive work.
Adopted on the 24th of November 2017
in the city of Tashkent, Uzbekistan