On May 17, Deputy Director Two of the CAREC Institute, Dr. Iskandar Abdullaev, spoke at the Central Asia Climate Change Conference: “Climate Change and Development.” The conference aimed to exchange information on progress, challenges and gaps in implementation of climate commitments by the Central Asian countries, governance and financial arrangements for the implementation of sector-specific strategies at the national and local levels, and available platforms for regional climate coordination and cooperation.
The conference brought together all key stakeholders to discuss issues of water, energy, food, and environmental sustainability in the context of climate change in the Central Asia region. They discussed the potential for regional collaboration and learned about the outcomes of participation of the Central Asian countries at the UNFCCC COP27, as well as plans for COP28. National government officials and international development partners exchanged views on the challenges and opportunities of strengthening water, energy, food, and environmental (WEFE) sustainability in the context of climate change and the implications of the WEFE nexus approach.
A rapidly changing climate is adversely affecting the Central Asian region due to harsh and unique conditions combined with extensive agriculture, aging infrastructure and high population growth. During a panel discussion on “Climate financing: needs and opportunities,” Dr. Iskandar Abdullaev noted that the highest economic losses in the countries of Central Asia are seen in the agricultural sector. Therefore, in addition to supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation activities aimed at reducing environmental externalities, and vulnerability of the population, especially in rural areas, Central Asian countries should prioritize investment strategies and attract climate finance from the private sector using different financial tools and mechanisms. Climate finance will help countries in the region move towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Dr. Abdullaev noted the key role of international climate finance in supporting ambitious elements of nationally determined contributions of the countries of Central Asia. The establishment of a Regional Climate Fund to support climate change mitigation and adaptation will help the sustainable development of rural areas in Central Asia. International climate finance should also support efforts at the regional level to address the negative impacts of climate change on water, energy, and food security, promote market-based mitigation mechanisms and regional carbon markets, develop region-wide cooperation on renewable energy development, and implement climate-smart projects.
However, there are some barriers that hinder climate investment in the region, such as (i) the limited knowledge and skills required to attract international climate finance, (ii) the absence of medium and long-term vision plans on climate financing at the regional and national levels, and (iii) low efficiency of the utilization of the current climate financing. Dr. Abdullaev suggested implementing more capacity-building activities and improving access to information about new funding opportunities. Countries and international financial institutions should consider developing priority climate vision and financing plans both for the region and at the national level. “Structural reforms should be easy to implement, promote climate finance from the private sector, and improve the efficiency of climate investments,” said Dr. Abdullaev.