Sh. Fayziev, Head of the Department, and N. Khasanov, Chief Researcher, International Institute of Central Asia
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) attaches great importance to the issues of ecology and environmental protection, considering them as one of the key elements of sustainable development.
In the founding documents adopted by the SCO — the Shanghai Declaration (2001) and the Charter (2002) — interaction in the environmental sphere is designated as one of the main goals of cooperation.
It should be noted that all of the SCO’s final agreements have started to incorporate references to environmental issues that are directly related to security and sustainable development concerns. For example, in the Agreement on Long-term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation of the SCO member states of 16 August 2007, a separate article stipulates that the parties develop cooperation in the field of environmental protection, environmental safety, environmental management, take the necessary measures to develop and implement special programs and projects in these areas.
At the present stage, the SCO’s activities in the environmental sphere are carried out within the framework of the Concept of Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection, adopted in 2005 at the summit in Qingdao (China). It became the first framework document aimed at practical cooperation in this area. Its main goal is to achieve “comprehensive, joint and sustainable security by preserving the ecological balance, ensuring a favorable environment and ecological development of the economy.” The work on the document was initiated by the Uzbek side. After the adoption of the Concept, an Action Plan for its implementation was approved.
In order to carry out practical work to promote the mentioned agenda, the SCO Environmental Protection Cooperation Center was established in 2014 with the support of the Chinese Government. In 2019, a special program for the development of the ecological well-being of SCO cities was adopted, which is aimed at preventing environmental pollution, adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change, ensuring the environmental safety of megacities, waste management, etc. Such working mechanisms as a Meeting of heads of relevant departments, as well as an Expert Working Group on Environmental Protection issues, have begun to function on an ongoing basis.
In order to promote the environmental agenda, the SCO member states are constantly initiating new activities. In particular, China is promoting the development of an Agreement on cooperation in the field of environmental protection, the creation of an Institute for Environmental Development, an Information Exchange Platform and an environmental innovation base of the SCO. Kazakhstan supports the compilation of a Register of environmental problems of the organization’s member countries, the development of an Ecosystem digital Map of the SCO, a program for phyto forest melioration of the dried bottom of the Aral Sea and the development of specially protected natural areas and ecological tourism. Tajikistan calls for support for the creation of the International Fund for the Protection of Glaciers, Uzbekistan supports the SCO Green Belt Program and a comprehensive solution to environmental problems of the Aral region (within the framework of the UN General Assembly resolution). India proposes to create a working group on innovation and start-ups-ecosystems.
The SCO member states intend to establish an active dialogue with international institutions in order to implement joint projects and programs in the field of environmental protection and the introduction of environmentally friendly technologies, increasing the share of the “green” economy.
Thus, based on the urgency of the issue, the topic of ecology and environmental protection rightfully occupies an important place on the agenda of the upcoming SCO summit in Samarkand. ///nCa, 10 September 2021 (in cooperation with Embassy of Uzbekistan in Turkmenistan)