INTERNATIONAL PRACTICAL CONFERENCE
DEDICATED TO 15th ANNIVERSARY OF THE INTERSTATE COMMISSION FOR WATER COORDINATION IN CENTRAL ASIA
The Central Asian International Practical Conference was organized in the city of Almaty on 24-27 April, 2007.
Water institutions, representatives of social, non-governmental environmental organizations were brought together in the city of Almaty in order to celebrate this significant date – first fifteen years of huge ICWC activity as undertaken for establishment of collaboration in area of transboundary water management and use in Central Asia.
The importance of this activity is that despite frequently changing dry and flood periods and breach of previously existing economic base, we have managed to avoid conflicts over water supply for CAR countries and create the basis for guaranteed water use in the region. This was reflected in the welcome speech of the President of the World Water Council Loic Fauchon. While noting an importance of the Conference within the framework of global preparatory campaign to the Fifth World Water Forum, which is to be held in Istanbul in 2009, he underlined the following: “We can pay tribute to the organizers of this conference, and to all of you ladies and gentlemen, for bringing your contribution to solving water issues through concrete actions and not only intentions… There are more than 260 transboundary basins in the world. But very few examples where five states are working together, hand-in-hand. Five States that are not only dealing with planning and negotiation but also with day-to-day management and functioning of two weighty rivers: the Amudarya and the Syrdarya. Their fruitful collaboration is the proof that, even if shared water resources can generate divergences and even conflicts, they are also a chance and a vector for collaboration between States and enables to overcome obstacles”.
Written welcome addresses were also received from the President of the International Water Resources Association Cecilia Tortajada and the Chairman of 5th World Water Forum Organizing Committee, Director General of State Hydraulic Works Prof. Veysel Eroglu.
As a symbol of unity of the ICWC activities and the global water management improvement, the participants of Plenary Meeting were shown video messages from the Fourth and Fifth World Water Forums.
His Excellency Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan Akhmedjan Yesimov opened the plenary meeting. In his speech, along with acknowledgement of the Commission’s activity, he expressed an aspiration of the Central Asian Governments to strengthen ICWC Executive Agencies, pay special attention to environmental restoration in Amudarya and Syrdarya deltas, and create a solid legal framework in form of multilateral agreements. The Chairman of Global Water Partnership for Caucasus and Central Asia Mrs. Nino Chkhobadze, Chairman Advisor of the Asian Water Forum Mr. Oda Hideaki, and former leader of the USSR Ministry of Water Resources and now President of JSC “Vodstroi” Mr. P.A. Polad-Zadeh welcomed the Conference participants. Mr. Polad-Zadeh noted in his speech: «I was very glad that CAR water institutions maintained such huge structures that were constructed in the region by my age generation. We keep an eye on your success and are concerned with your fails». FAO regional representative in Central Asia Mr. Giovanni Munoz and UN representative in Kazakhstan Mrs. Steliana Nedera addressed the participants as well. The participants of Plenary meeting heard the reports of water managers and professionals in Central Asia, summarized results of work done and outlined the ways for future development. The Conference slogan «Water – bridge to the future» signalizes determination of ICWC to keep improving water use in the region on mutually beneficial basis.
The Conference included the 47th ICWC meeting and a number of specific sessions:
- Interstate cooperation and the role of ICWC in addressing regional problems
- Integrated water resources management – a way to achieve MDGs in Central Asia
- Global Water Partnership in Central Asia and Caucasus: towards 16th session of the UN CSD (2008) for implementation of IWRM plans
- Environmental challenges in Central Asia: analysis and future outlook
- Central Asian Regional Water Information Base
- Integrated water resources management in Kazakhstan: meeting of Basin Councils’ representatives in the Republic of Kazakhstan
- Towards 1st Asian-Pacific Water Summit
His Excellency Mr. Katsuji Matsunami (ADB) and Mr. Hans Peter Maag (SDC) took participation in these actions. Members of ICWC express their gratitude to all donors for their huge input in support of activity of Commission. Specific thanks was done to UN, ADB, SDC, CIDA, EU, GWP, WB, USAID, which huge contribution assisted in the promotion of collaboration between.
Particular attention was paid to implementation of IWRM in CAR countries and, in particular, about 100 representatives have actively discussed development of basin councils in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Whereas Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan develop IWRM mainly through pilot projects as implemented by ICWC together with IWMI under support of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Kazakhstan held the 1st Meeting of Kazakhstan’s Basin Councils within the framework of UN Programme “National IWRM and Water Efficiency Plan”.
Discussion on IWRM implementation in the region was supplemented by concrete proposals for strengthening of legal and institutional frameworks in regional water management.
The session of Global Water Partnership in Central Asia and Caucasus put forward specific measures to assist all eight countries in this region in preparing review on implementation of IWRM in the region in light of MDGs for presentation of this review at 16th Session of UN CSD in 2008.
The development of information system at the regional basin and national levels, as well as of information portals plays a big role in raising trust and creating a cooperation platform among both water institutions and multiple stakeholders concerned with water use (water users, economic sectors, such as hydropower and ecology). The session dedicated to SDC-supported CAREWIB project activities aroused a discussion among 45 participants. As a result, the session participants underlined the importance and wide use of the portal and information system and also a need to reinforce the regional portal and develop information systems at national and basin levels.
Participants of the session “Interstate cooperation and the role of ICWC in addressing regional problems» gathered within the framework of ADB RETA Project on improvement of legal mechanism and work group activities for better regulation and use of water resources in both Syrdarya and Amudarya river basins.
The joint session of EC IFAS and GWP CACENA produced a plan for preparation of sub-regional document (Central Asia and Caucasus) containing information on the countries in the context of three priority themes of the 1st Asian Pacific Water Summit to be held in Japan in December 2007.
Meeting of donors and ICWC members also took place during the Conference. Representatives of ADB, SDC, UN, FAO, IWMI and GWP participated in this meeting. They exchanged opinions on priority directions of donor assistance and, at the same time, outlined vector for better interactions and coordination between ICWC members and donor organizations.
Finally, the Conference participants expressed their satisfaction and gratitude for excellent organization of the Conference along with all associated events.