On September 18-19, the International Forum on Sustainable Development of Ecology and Environment along the Silk Road Economic Belt was held in Urumqi (PRC). The forum was organized by the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in partnership with the CAREC Institute.
The forum aimed to facilitate the knowledge exchange and discussions to promote better technological cooperation between countries, and advance the construction of greener, innovative and sustainable cooperation along the Silk Road under the Belt and Road Initiative. The event brought together nearly 300 researchers and experts from 17 countries, including the CAREC region, to share their country-level research findings on biodiversity conservation, green agriculture, food security, the status and sustainable utilization of water resources, ecological restoration and governance.
Mr. Kabir Jurazoda, Director of the CAREC Institute, delivered the keynote address on “How to Jointly Build a Greener, Innovative, and Resilient Silk Road – an International Perspective.” He emphasized that the CAREC Institute, as an intergovernmental international organization representing eleven CAREC member countries and serving as the knowledge support arm of the CAREC Program, is in a unique position to promote regional knowledge cooperation. The Institute has published many leading research papers and policy briefs on climate, water and agriculture in the region. Director Jurazoda highlighted the productive partnership between the CAREC Institute and the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography of the Chinese Academy of Sciences that has led to meaningful progress on addressing issues such as disaster risk reduction, ecological restoration with a special focus on the Aral Sea area, climate change, and resource sustainability. This collaboration demonstrated the shared commitment to solving problems that transcend borders. Mr. Jurazoda proposed to jointly build a green, innovative and sustainable Silk Road by i) promoting international research cooperation, ii) strengthening partnerships with international organizations, and iii) establishing a sustainable mechanism for international cooperation.
During the sub-sessions, CAREC Institute’s experts shared their views on water issues in the CAREC region. Dr. Iskandar Abdullaev, former Deputy Director Two of the CAREC Institute, spoke about water scarcity and climate change in Central Asia, and how these factors affect the economy, social and political stability. Dr. Abdullaev emphasized the critical role of water in the sustainable development of Central Asia, while highlighting the region’s serious water challenges, including scarcity, deteriorating quality, shrinking glaciers, groundwater depletion, unreliable water supply, and inefficient water use. Dr. Abdullaev noted the importance of deep regional cooperation between countries in policy development, medium- and long-term water resource planning and information exchange.
Another CAREC Institute’s invited expert, Dr. Au Shion Yee, Principal Water Resources Specialist, Food, Nature, and Rural Development Sector Group of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), spoke about the importance of effective planning in improving water management and adaptation in East Asia. Dr. Yee emphasized ADB’s focus on upstream engagement in adaptation planning and the provision of the Technical Assistance to support the PRC’s National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2035, with a particular focus on the Yellow River as a regional priority. Additionally, he noted that ADB TA also support Mongolia in enhancing climate change adaptation strategic planning and community resilience in the environment and natural resources sector. He also shared key lessons learned from water adaptation management projects in East Asia.
Researchers from CAREC member countries spoke about regional cooperation in water resource management and environmental protection in the CAREC region. Professor Chen Yaning from the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Director of the State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, spoke about the utilization and sustainable management of water resources. In his presentation, Professor Chen highlighted the significance of the Silk Road Economic Belt in connecting the Eurasian continent and the CAREC region. He stressed the challenges posed by water resource scarcity and ecosystem fragility to economic, social development, and ecological security along the Silk Road. Professor Chen recommended a series of measures, including embracing a path of green development, fostering international science and technology collaboration, and enhancing water resource management and utilization efficiency to jointly fortify water resource preservation and achieve mutual development.
Dr. Roman Jashenko, Director of the Institute of Zoology under the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan, delivered a keynote speech addressing “Animal Diversity and the Regional Animal Red List of Central Asia.” In his presentation, Dr. Jashenko proposed the establishment of a national expert committee dedicated to animal and plant protection in Central Asia, the compilation of a red book of the animals and plants specific to the Central Asian region, and the creation of a list of rare animals and plants. Additionally, he suggested fostering international research initiatives focused on bird migration and vascular plants in Altay, Xinjiang, China.
The International Forum on Sustainable Development of Ecology and Environment along the Silk Road Economic Belt contributed to the establishment of and Open Leadership Dialogue Mechanism among the national research institutions and universities to translate research findings into practical actions for the construction of a greener, innovative, and resilient Silk Road. The forum participants have jointly released the declaration of “Forge Synergies for Development, Jointly Build a Beautiful Silk Road” as the consensus for multistakeholder collaboration.