On December 2, the CAREC Institute, represented by Deputy Director Two Dr. Iskandar Abdullaev and Senior Research Specialist Mr. Shakhboz Akhmedov, discussed water and climate issues of small basins in Central Asia at the High-Level Central Asian Dialogue on Climate Change and Resilience. The dialogue was aimed at bringing Central Asian states together to achieve a reasonable balance between mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The event was co-organized by the Government of Uzbekistan, UNDP and GIZ in Uzbekistan, with the administrative support of the Uzhydromet, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Water Resources of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Dr. Abdullaev noted that the countries of Central Asia experienced much higher rates of temperature rise compared to the world average over the past hundred years. In this regard, the frequency of adverse natural disasters of a wide spectrum has increased in the region. Projections indicate that future temperature increases and changes in precipitation patterns in the region are likely to exceed observed historical changes. Such climatic changes in the region will cause significant changes in the annual volume and seasonal patterns of rivers` run-offs.
Climate change creates a vicious circle in which water scarcity causes the unequal distribution of water, affecting livelihoods and crops, increasing poverty and social differentiation, and reducing the ability to adapt to climate change. Therefore, climate change leads to economic losses in the countries of Central Asia, primarily in the agricultural sector. Countries of the region need to identify appropriate mitigation and adaptation mechanisms that will reduce external environmental impacts and population vulnerability, especially in rural areas. Appropriate adaptation and mitigation mechanisms should include improving water use efficiency, establishing early warning systems for extreme climate events, introducing no-till technologies, crop diversification and afforestation, improving crop management, and strengthening regional cooperation. Suitable financial mechanisms are not yet well developed in the region; therefore, countries should use modern financial instruments and mechanisms, in the form of loans, insurance, subsidies, carbon market and taxation.
Dr. Abdullaev provided policy recommendations. He proposes to introduce stronger water rights and water distribution principles into regional and national legal documents. Furthermore, countries should focus on preventing of major water risk under climate change in Ferghana Valley – emergence of higher demand and reduced water availability which will lead to the regular water shortages. To this end, governments should introduce regular, long-term planning of water resources for basins, sub-basins under different climate scenarios. The countries need prepare regularly updated local action plans for each sensitive basins, sub-basins in Ferghana Valley to cope with climate change risks in local areas. In cooperation, countries should also improve quality and density of climate and water monitoring systems in the crucial transboundary systems. “More importantly, countries need to build up information openness and digital means as tools for major analysis and communication on climate related risk in water sector,” said Dr. Abdullaev.