Following the Summit of the Heads of the Founding States of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), a Meeting of the Council of Heads of the Founding States of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) took place on September 15 in Dushanbe.
The Meeting was attended by the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon; the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev; the President of Turkmenistan, Serdar Berdimuhamedov; the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev; the First Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic, Adylbek Kasymaliyev, and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General – Head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, Kairat Abdrakhmanov.
During the Meeting, several crucial aspects of IFAS activities were discussed, including the outcomes of the chairmanship of the Republic of Tajikistan, improvements to the organizational structure, and legal framework of IFAS taking into account the interests of all the Founding States of IFAS. Prospective areas of joint activity in these sectors were identified and specified.
At the conclusion of the Meeting, four documents were signed:
- Dushanbe Statement of the Heads of the Founding States of IFAS.
- Decision of the Council of Heads of the Founding States of IFAS on the outcomes of Tajikistan’s chairmanship.
- Decision of the Council of Heads of the Founding States of IFAS on the election of President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as the President of IFAS for 2024-2026.
- Decision of the Council of Heads of the Founding States of the IFAS on activities to improve the organizational structure and the legal framework of IFAS.
In the Dushanbe Statement of the Heads of the Founding States, the key role of water resources in ecological, food, and energy security, as well as climate resilience and the socio-economic development of the region, is emphasized. Transboundary water cooperation is recognized as a vital component for achieving sustainable development, ensuring peace, and fostering prosperity across Central Asia. The Parties expressed readiness to prioritize water issues in national and regional strategies.
Climate resilience can only be achieved through the strengthening of a regional institution that plays a crucial role in expanding cooperation and coordination among the countries in the climate agenda.
The Statement underscores the necessity for joint efforts to overcome the Aral Sea catastrophe through the implementation of advanced information and communication technologies for water management and innovative water-saving technologies. Supporting and developing regional youth movements in the protection of water resources and the exchange of information in the fields of water management and ecology are highlighted as priority areas.
The Heads of States advocate for the development of joint projects with the involvement of external investments, supporting the programs of the Fourth Program for the Aral Sea Basin (ASBP-4) and the Regional Environmental Programme for Sustainable Development in Central Asia (REP4SD-CA). The importance of the Joint Statement of States at the 2023 UN Conference on Water Resources in New York, chaired by the Republic of Tajikistan, is emphasized, along with comprehensive support from the UN and development partners in addressing issues related to the Aral Sea basin.
The Statement also addresses hydro-energy issues and the need to develop a comprehensive mechanism for water-energy cooperation to ensure water, energy, and food security in Central Asia. The Parties highly commend the work of the Executive Committee of IFAS under the chairmanship of Tajikistan in this direction.
For 30 years, the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea has played a crucial role in strengthening cooperation and interaction among the region’s countries to address complex water management and environmental issues. Significant results have been achieved within the framework of IFAS, contributing to the socio-economic development of the region, the strengthening of regional cooperation, and the establishment and expansion of bilateral and multilateral relations in these areas.
The chairmanship in the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea will transition to the Republic of Kazakhstan from January 1, 2024.