Ashgabat’s Ýyldyz Hotel has hosted a Board meeting of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), co-organized by the IFAS Executive Committee and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan in cooperation with the Transboundary Water Management in Central Asia Program of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia.
Among those in attendance were the IFAS Board members, IFAS Executive Committee members, as well as authorized representatives from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The meeting, which was also participated in by representatives of our country’s sectoral ministries and agencies, focused on the IFAS Executive Committee’s Action Plan under the aegis of Turkmenistan’s chairmanship, preparations for the Summit of Heads of State of the Asian countries, drawing up the Aral Sea Basin Program (ASBP-4), and the agenda for a scheduled IFAS Board meeting.
Speakers at the meeting have identified the sustainable and effective use of water resources, sufficient supply of pure drinking water to the population, and environmental protection as today’s most important tasks that receive close attention in Turkmenistan and are personally supervised by President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov. As elected IFAS Chair since 2017, our country has been making active efforts in the fields of ecology and rational water use in Central Asia, given their enormous impact on socio-economic growth of the region’s countries.
Meeting participants considered a broad range of issues of promoting partnership between the Central Asian countries in the field of sustainable development and rational use of water resources in the region on the basis of accumulated successful experience and close cooperation with major international organizations.
The first item on the agenda was a discussion of the IFAS Executive Committee’s Action Plan for the period of Turkmenistan’s chairmanship, which envisages enhanced cooperation between the Aral Sea littoral countries and is aimed to ameliorate the socio-economic and ecological situation, and water resources management in the Aral Sea region.
The discussion also centered on planning dates of meetings of the Council of Heads of State of Central Asia and the Board of the Fund, and on the procedures (followed by the Executive Committee) for document preparation.
An exchange of opinions was held on the development and implementation of projects under the Aral Sea Basin Program, whose main aim is to improve water resources management, and the ecological and socio-economic conditions in cooperation with international partners in the context of working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The event participants agreed upon the creation of national and regional expert groups to hold consultations with international organizations and partners and to assist in drawing up the Regional Environmental Program for Sustainable Development in Central Asia.
Detailed consideration was given to the harmonization of the IFAS Executive Committee’s activities and efforts of the Interstate Commission on Water Resources Management (ICWRM) and the Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development (ICSD). Special emphasis was placed on the IFAS Executive Committee’s participation in meetings and events organized by these organizations.
The meeting also approved plans for extended cooperation between IFAS and international and regional organizations, financial institutes, donor countries, ecological funds.
To step up cooperation with the United Nations, preparation of a draft Aral Sea Basin Program was included in the IFAS Action Plan under the aegis Turkmenistan’s chairmanship as agreed by the IFAS founding countries. The event attendees shared an opinion that the Program would be a special area of the UN activities and would intensify the efforts of the IFAS founding member states, as well as other partners of the Fund.
The meeting outlined steps towards better research and information support of the activities of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. The participants in the event expressed their readiness to organize thematic conferences, symposia, and workshops, and made efforts to harmonize activities of branch offices of the IFAS Executive Committee, its specialized agencies and funds for improving the social-ecological situation in the Aral Sea Basin.
The IFAS Executive Committee’s Action Plan will be implemented through coordination and data exchange between departments of the Fund and international partners.
Setting the next IFAS Board meeting agenda, the attendees emphasized the need to address issues relating to the Aral Sea Basin Program-4 and to analyze intermediate outcomes of the Fund’s activities in the context of the adopted Action Plan.
After due consideration, the Board members signed Decisions on the Action Plan of the IFAS Executive Committee, preparations for the Summit of Central Asian Leaders, the Aral Sea Basin Program-4, and the agenda for the next Board meeting.