New Policy Brief on Regional Cooperation to Address Water Security Challenges in Central Asia

Jun 2024; Georg Petersen, CAREC Institute

This policy brief looks at the water management problems in Central Asia which are centered on issues of water shortage, infrastructure and regional cooperation.  However, there is a need for a new approach to address these challenges due to the involvement of historical factors (reliance on Soviet-era systems), conflicts over water allocation and climate change impacts.

This policy brief integrates a review of academic literature, the analysis of current policy frameworks and the empirical evaluation of the current situation in Central Asia related to the regional cooperation in water related projects.

Central Asian countries have inherited Soviet-era water and energy infrastructures designed for centralized control, a scenario no longer viable for the current situation, resulting in inefficient water use. This is exacerbated by stress factors including population growth and climate change. Considering these aspects, regional coordination is needed.

Interstate Commission for Water Coordination of Central Asia (ICWC) is the coordination mechanism of Central Asian states for the management of common water resources. The Kyrgyz Republic froze its membership in 2016.

It is recommended that the efforts to reintegrate the Kyrgyz Republic into the ICWC should focus on high-level diplomacy, technical working groups, and potentially neutral third-party mediation. Prioritizing efficient water use, climate adaptation strategies, and clear mechanisms for resolving disputes must be emphasized in revised water-sharing agreements. Central Asia can transform its water challenges into opportunities for cooperation. Recommendations to achieve this include improving regional dialogue and revising water allocation agreements. In this way, the region can build an equitable and sustainable regional water cooperation system.

Contact Us

For any inquiries, questions or commendations, you can contact us directy by filling out the following form