President Tokayev calls for collective action to tackle Central Asia’s water threats

President Tokayev calls for collective action to tackle Central Asia’s water threats

At the meeting of the Council of Heads of State-Founders of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) held today in Dushanbe, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev spoke about the threats to the Central Asia’s security driven by global climate change, low water levels, and irrigation shortages. According to experts, rising temperature in the region surpasses the global average, leading to a reduction of almost one-third of glaciers in half a century, with further shrinking. By 2050, the region could see five million climate migrants due to drought. Thus, climate challenges require immediate solutions by joining efforts.

“I believe that when forming water policy, our states should take into account that water is a limited natural resource, which directly impacts the well-being and sustainable development of the entire region. There is an urgent need to maximize water efficiency through the introduction of digital technologies, a major direction in our cooperation on water resources,” the President said.

From January 1, the chairmanship of the IFAS will be transferred to Kazakhstan for three years. President Tokayev shared his vision for the organization’s future, including measures to enhance efficiency and interaction with international partners.

“The powers and responsibilities of the IFAS Board and the Executive Committee should be expanded. It is also proposed to transform the Interstate Coordination Water Commission into the Water and Energy Commission. These steps would increase the fund efficiency. It is necessary to work out equal distribution of the IFAS working bodies among the member states and staffing from among representatives of all Central Asian countries,” he added.

Cooperation between Central Asian countries in water issues has already proven its effectiveness. Over the 30 years of its existence, the IFAS has become the most important institution for collaboration on joint use of transboundary resources and solution of environmental issues in the Aral Sea basin. The meeting in Dushanbe resulted in the signing of four documents, including one on improving the IFAS legal framework.