On December 19, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously endorsed a resolution aimed at addressing the pressing environmental issues plaguing Central Asia. Spearheaded by Uzbekistan and co-authored by a coalition of nations, the proposal underscores Central Asia’s commitment to collective action in confronting climate change and fostering sustainable development.
The resolution, titled “Central Asia in the face of environmental challenges: strengthening regional solidarity for the sake of sustainable development and prosperity,” recognizes climate change as one of the most intricate challenges of our era, posing severe impediments to the sustainable development of nations worldwide. In recent years, Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries have intensified their contributions to solving complex issues related to minimizing the consequences and adapting to climate change globally and regionally. They also have launched a number of initiatives aimed at attracting the attention of the international community to the environmental problems of the region.
Particular attention is paid to efforts to mitigate the consequences of the drying up of the Aral Sea, with special emphasis on the activities of the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Human Security for the Aral Sea region, created on the initiative of the head of Uzbekistan. The resolution contains specific tasks to effectively counter climate and environmental threats in Central Asia, including sustainable agriculture, landscaping, rational use of water resources, energy efficiency, waste recycling, the development of sustainable tourism, the creation of “smart cities,” and sustainable transport. The General Assembly recommended that the UN system, international and financial institutions, the private sector, investors, and donors continue to mobilize resources, build capacity, and provide assistance to address environmental problems in Central Asia.
Impact of this Resolution on Central Asia’s Environment
This resolution emphasizes the importance of strengthening regional cooperation to solve environmental problems in Central Asia, including the Aral Sea region, and promoting socio-economic development while taking measures to adapt to climate change. It places significant emphasis on bolstering regional cooperation to combat environmental challenges, particularly in the Aral Sea region. The collaborative efforts aim to promote socio-economic development and implement measures to adapt to climate change. It hails the “Green Agenda for Central Asia,” a regional program endorsed by Central Asian heads of state designed to champion sustainable development initiatives in the area.
New technologies and best practices take center stage in the resolution’s call to action against desertification, drought, and sand and dust storms in Central Asia. It underscores the crucial role of innovative approaches in mitigating these environmental threats.
The Central Asian states and other states will intensify efforts to protect mountain ecosystems and preserve glaciers. Over the past thirty years, the air temperature in the region has increased by one and a half degrees. As a result, about a third of the total area of glaciers has disappeared.
It stresses the need to strengthen the scientific and technological potential of the Central Asian countries to promote the development of sustainable agriculture, rational use of water resources, waste recycling, energy efficiency, the development of sustainable tourism, the creation of “smart cities,” and sustainable transport. The resolution also highlights the importance of introducing innovative methods and new technologies in the fight against desertification and land degradation. Highlighting the need to protect mountain ecosystems and preserve glaciers, the resolution calls upon nations worldwide to intensify their efforts in this regard.
Role of Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan plays a key role in strengthening peace and security in the Central Asian region. As one of the largest and most powerful countries in the region in terms of human resources, the Shavkat Mirziyoyev leadership’s commitment to the implementation of the framework of the United Nations to ensure stability and security around the globe. Uzbekistan is committed to the rational and integrated use of water and energy resources in transboundary rivers in Central Asia and attaches importance to the environmental sustainability of the region. Uzbekistan’s comprehensive approach to Central Asia aims to promote peace, economic development, and mutually beneficial cooperation in the region.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev had initiated a wide range of ambitious reforms, leading the nation towards cleaner and more sustainable energy alternatives. A pivotal aspect of this transition is the ambition to derive 30% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030—an aspiration aligned with global climate initiatives aimed at enhancing living standards. President Mirziyoyev’s environmental focus serves as an integral component of Uzbekistan’s broader sustainability drive.
His unwavering commitment to green reforms and the promotion of renewable energy underscores his dedication to shaping a sustainable future. Additionally, President Mirziyoyev’s policies include the adoption of the State Program for the development of the Aral Sea region for 2017-2021, focusing on improving the conditions and quality of life. Moreover, the approval of the Program of integrated socio-economic development of Karakalpakstan for 2020-2023 demonstrates his commitment to holistic and inclusive approach.
In 2018, the International Innovation Center of the Aral Sea Region was established, further emphasizing Uzbekistan’s commitment to innovation and development. President’s vision for Uzbekistan’s energy evolution is synonymous with a strategy that not only revitalizes the economy but also steers the nation towards a greener tomorrow.
President Mirziyoyev highlighted at the United Nations that over the past thirty years, the air temperature in the region has increased by one and a half degrees, twice the global average warming. As a result, about a third of the total area of glaciers has disappeared. President Mirziyoyev warned that if this trend continues, the flow of two large rivers in the region—the Amu Darya and the Syrdarya—may decrease by 15 percent. Per capita water availability is expected to decline by 25 percent, and crop yields may decrease by 40 percent. He called on the international community to take action.
Member states welcome Uzbekistan’s initiative to hold the International Climate Forum in Samarkand in 2024, as supported by the UN, dedicated to discussing opportunities for international cooperation to reduce risks and threats in the Central Asian region and issues of attracting climate finance.
By collaborating and supporting the region in building resilience to climate change impacts, stakeholders can address urgent environmental issues in Central Asia and ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for the region.