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News: December 2010


Source: UNECE, 6.12.2010

A two-day national seminar on integrated water resources’ management and transboundary water cooperation opened today in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. This seminar aims to discuss the role of UNECE’s environmental conventions in strengthening water management at national and transboundary levels and to lay down the foundations for developing a National Policy Dialogue on Integrated Water Resources Management in Turkmenistan.

With the Kara Kum desert occupying around 80 percent of Turkmenistan’s territory, water management issues are of particular importance for the country. Almost all its regions suffer from water deficits, with the exception of a narrow strip of irrigated land along the middle reaches of the Amudarya. Water resources mainly come from the agreed water shares of four transboundary rivers: Amudarya, Murgab, Tedjen and Atrek, with Amudarya supplying almost 90% of the total supply. Groundwater resources are unevenly available throughout the country’s territory.

Irrigated agriculture is the main water consumer in Turkmenistan, with some 90% of the available water (up to 9,500 cubic meters per hectar).

Transboundary water cooperation is highly relevant for Turkmenistan which borders Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Afghanistan. While actively developing bilateral cooperation on transboundary waters, Turkmenistan also participates in the regional cooperation mechanisms on the Aral Sea basin. The challenges of climate change and the expected increase in water use by Afghanistan is a challenging background for developing long-term solutions for cooperation over shared waters.

Seminar participants will discuss the principles and some practical examples of integrated water resources’ management. Since Turkmenistan is considering accession to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, the seminar will provide an opportunity to deepen the understanding of this legal instrument and its obligations.

Participants will also have an opportunity to find out about the mechanisms of two other UNECE Conventions – the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) and the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents – since their provisions are also used to ensure cooperative and sustainable management of shared water resources.

Discussion will also focus on formulating proposals with regard to developing the National Policy Dialogue in Turkmenistan. Such dialogue in the framework of the European Union’s Water Initiative is a tool for implementing the principles of integrated water resources’ management, including the basin approach, at local, national and international levels, based on the consultations and dialogue with all interested ministries, agencies and institutions, including academia and the non-governmental sector.

The seminar is being organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Water Economy of Turkmenistan. It takes place in the framework of the programme “Regional Dialogue and Cooperation on Water Resources Management in Central Asia”, financed by the Government of Germany through Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) in the framework of the Berlin Water Process, and in the framework of the European Union’s Water Initiative, with additional financial support from Switzerland.