Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev shared his vision for reforming the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) at a meeting of the Heads of State of the founding countries in Dushanbe on 15 September 2023. This topic was one of the central themes in the speeches of the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
“It is important that the process of development and reform of the Fund be based on the principle of intersectorality – an integrated approach “water – energy – food”, taking into account modern environmental challenges,” Mirziyoyev emphasized.
As part of the work to further improve the legal framework and modernize the institutional mechanisms of the Fund, the Leader of Uzbekistan proposed to revise the main documents and agreements, analyze the current structure and develop “Rules and Procedures” that clearly regulate the issues of cooperation and the activities of the Fund.
Expressing concern about the implementation of the fourth Action Program to Assist the countries of the Aral Sea basin, which is carried out mainly through national plans, the President of Uzbekistan proposed to instruct the Board of the Fund to prepare “road maps” for the implementation of each regional project with the definition of volumes and sources of funding, as well as agreed schedules for their implementation.
To address financing, Mirziyoyev proposed that each country commit to attracting external assistance for regional projects, and that the chairing country develop mechanisms for attracting and distributing investments and technical assistance.
To accelerate the implementation of joint projects with the involvement of foreign partners, leading international institutions, and donor organizations, it was proposed to convene a special regional conference.
The Head of Uzbekistan stressed that in order to promote a coordinated policy on integrated management of water and energy resources in the region, it is advisable to develop long-term development Plans for the Amu Darya and Syr Darya basins with the participation of international consultants.
He also highlighted the potential for youth participation in the formation of a culture of respect for water and other natural resources, and proposed to support youth initiatives and startups through a targeted program.
“We count on the close involvement of the Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy in the consideration of these issues,” Mirziyoyev said.
In his speech, the President of Uzbekistan also raised the issue of the construction of the Kushtepa canal in Afghanistan, being built on the Amu Darya River, one of the main waterways of the region.
In response to the construction of a new canal in Afghanistan, the Uzbek leader proposed creating a joint working group of representatives from regional research institutes to study all aspects of the canal’s impact on the Amu Darya River’s water regime. He also believes it is necessary to consider involving representatives from Afghanistan in a regional dialogue on the joint use of water resources.
At the end of his speech, Shavkat Mirziyoyev expressed his conviction that the implementation of the initiatives put forward and the documents adopted at the meeting will increase efficiency and expand mutually beneficial cooperation within the framework of IFAS. ///nCa, 15 September 2023
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