The summit of the Heads of the States-founders of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) took place in the Avaza tourism zone in the city of Turkmenbashi.
After an official photo session, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev held a restricted meeting, which was later followed by an expanded session with the members of the delegations.
The IFAS leaders discussed the environmental issues of water and water management in the region and identified areas for future collaboration and joint action in this direction.
In his address the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon noted that "Thanks to joint and coordinated actions within the framework of the Fund, we were able to draw the attention of the international community to the problems of the Aral Sea basin, established cooperation with international and regional organizations, financial institutions and donor countries, resource-mobilization approach for various projects and programs aimed at mitigating consequences of the Aral crisis".
In this context, it was pointed out that a billion dollars have been spent over the past period in Tajikistan for the implementation of water and environment management projects and programs.
"Today we are faced with a number of problems that our countries need to collaborate in their solution," the President of Tajikistan said in his address.
Issues facing the future are the trends in global population growth and climate change, intensive rural land uses and high volume of water losses, product development, which together lead to a reduction in the total volume of water resources and increase in water consumption.
It should be noted that over the past few decades, Tajikistan has lost more than 30% of the total volume of glaciers, including about 1,000 small and medium-sized glaciers.
As a result of these phenomena, the indicators of water supply per capita in our region have decreased 4 times compared to the indicators of the 1960s.
Given the acceleration of population growth and the demand for water in the region, the head of state once again pointed Tajikistan's initiative regarding rational use of freshwater-lake resources of mountain lake “Sarez” to improve the supply of drinking water to the countries of the region on a long-term period.
It was suggested that this proposal be considered taking into account that the health of the population of the region is closely related to drinking-water quality.
Moreover, in his address, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan dwelled in detail on the increases in weather and climate extremes leading to natural disasters causing enormous financial losses and human casualties.
The head of our state noted that "Over the past 20 years in Tajikistan, the natural disasters damage associated with water resources cost to several billion U.S. dollars and the losses among the population exceeded one thousand people” and added that "continuation of disaster scenario has very serious consequences, which requires us to take urgent measures to adapt to the harsh climate change and sustainable management of water resources".
In this context, the President of Tajikistan pointed regarding initiative of Tajikistan on International Decade of Action "Water for Sustainable Development", 2018-2028, which, like the previous three global water initiatives, aims to contribute to the achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals for water and beyond.
It was hoped that the Fund and its structures would use the Platform for the New Decade to achieve these goals and objectives, both at the national and regional levels.
Concluding address, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon proposed a number of measures the adoption of which could help solve the existing problems in the region related to water management, ecology and socio-economic situation.
In particular, it was pointed out that the formation of IFAS structure and its normative legal documents in order to adapt them to today's realities and the relevance of the construction of small and medium-scale hydropower plants with reservoirs would contribute to water supply conservation measures for short and long-term period, especially in low-water years as well as reduce the disaster risk associated with water.
In this context, it was noted that hydropower, as one of the main renewable energy sources, simultaneously ensures the successful promotion of the green economy.
It was stressed that almost 98% of electricity is produced by hydroelectric power stations that make up the Tajikistan rankings at the sixth place in the world.
At the end, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon expressed gratitude to the leadership of Turkmenistan for the high level of organization of the meeting and traditional hospitality.
After the meeting, the heads of state summed up the results of the forum at a press conference with the participation of a wide range of journalists.