Nexus Regional Dialogue in Central Asia

The region Central Asia hosts five former Soviet republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which have a population of around 68 million in total. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, these countries have shown mixed progress in implementing democracy and thus reforming as there are intra-regional and intra-country disparities in the region.

The Central Asia region has a highly varied geography, which includes high mountains; vast deserts; and treeless, grassy steppes. The two major rivers are the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya. The Aral Sea is another major water reservoir for the region. However, the distribution of water resources is very difficult in Central Asia. Although the sources of the rivers are formed in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, hydroelectric plants weaken as they run to the downstream countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

Population growth is expected to increase significantly over the next decades, which will place additional demands on existing resources and lead to increased urbanisation rates. Additionally, climate change will further complicate the existing situation. Notably, Central Asia will warm faster than the global average. Upstream glaciers are already experiencing losses of ice due to increased temperatures. At the same time, it is also projected that precipitation will decrease in the region.

All these factors create huge challenges to the Central Asian governments. Therefore, an analysis of the dynamic links between water, energy, food and ecosystems is crucial in order to understand the challenges in these areas. The WEF-Nexus perspective will not only allow for the identification of the synergies between the different users of the natural resources but it will also help to avoid trade-offs and social conflicts that might occur. Intraregional cooperation will be essential to meet the described challenges.

There is a growing awareness of the need to adopt a Nexus approach in the region and the Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia (CAREC), in cooperation with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), are implementing the Nexus Dialogue activities. Thus, CAREC and IUCN are aiming at strengthening the capacities in the inter-sectoral planning at national and regional level as well as mainstreaming the Nexus approach.

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