Water is a catalyst for the development of all living things, both in Central Asia and everywhere where it is needed to support life, provide nutrition and obtain energy. However, there is a risk that this catalyst could pose some obstacles to future development unless we collectively overcome the global water management crisis. Today, water management is facing unprecedented challenges on two fronts: due to population growth and competition between economic sectors, the demand for water is constantly increasing, while water quality is deteriorating due to pollution. Freshwater supplies are dwindling, and climate change will only worsen this problem. Today, more than ever, the need to take decisive action and fundamentally rethink the strategy of water use and water resource management is urgent. Maintaining the current state of affairs seems unacceptable. Because rivers and aquifers are not tied to administrative boundaries, local disputes over water management can easily trigger a regional crisis. However, water may not be a source of conflict, but an instrument of cooperation and peace. Switzerland and neighboring countries were able to achieve this in the Rhine Basin, where 60 million people live in nine different countries. Bringing all the interested parties to the same table was not easy, but this meeting was the starting point of a long journey towards creating a common concept for the management of the Rhine. Ultimately, this contributed to the transformation of the former disputed territory into a peaceful and prosperous region. This successful experience, along with many other successfully implemented initiatives, shows how cooperative mechanisms in the field of water resources management can bring enormous benefits to all participants. Water connects us rather than separates us. Understanding the costs of inaction and the future benefits that can be gained from cooperation in water management is the first and most important step towards strengthening cooperation among Central Asian countries. The cost of such inaction is most often not fully understood by politicians and government officials and is not always fully communicated to the population. This publication is the first to present a comprehensive analysis and monetary value of the direct and indirect impacts caused by insufficient transboundary cooperation in water management in the region. It offers new ideas that challenge current transboundary water management policies and call for greater collaboration. But above all, this publication identifies transboundary water cooperation as an opportunity for the development of all parties. As part of our long-standing involvement in water resource management in Central Asia, and with a strong belief in establishing regional cooperation in this area, we hope that this study can contribute to making effective transboundary water management policies a reality for the benefit of present and future generations.
This report was carried out in 2017 thanks to the financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and still remains relevant.
You can download the report from the link.