by: Mr. Khalid Taimur Akram, Executive Director, Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared Future (PRCCSF), Islamabad:
UN Endorses Uzbekistan-Led Resolution Addressing Central Asia’s Environmental Challenges: In a landmark move, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously approved a resolution on December 19, spearheaded by Uzbekistan and co-authored by a coalition of nations, addressing critical environmental issues in Central Asia. Titled “Central Asia in the face of environmental challenges: strengthening regional solidarity for the sake of sustainable development and prosperity,” the resolution underscores the region’s commitment to collective action against climate change and sustainable development.
Recognizing climate change as a complex global challenge, the resolution emphasizes Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries’ intensified contributions to tackling its consequences. Initiatives aimed at drawing international attention to the region’s environmental problems, especially the drying up of the Aral Sea, have been launched. The resolution outlines specific tasks to counter climate and environmental threats, focusing on sustainable agriculture, water resource management, energy efficiency, waste recycling, sustainable tourism, “smart cities,” and transport.
The General Assembly recommended the UN system, international institutions, the private sector, investors, and donors to continue mobilizing resources to address environmental challenges in Central Asia. The resolution emphasizes strengthening regional cooperation for socio-economic development and adaptation to climate change, particularly in the Aral Sea region. It commends the “Green Agenda for Central Asia,” a regional program championed by Central Asian heads of state for sustainable development.
In addressing desertification, drought, and sand and dust storms, the resolution highlights the importance of new technologies and best practices. It calls for intensified efforts to protect mountain ecosystems and glaciers, acknowledging the impact of rising temperatures on the region’s glaciers over the past thirty years.
Uzbekistan, playing a pivotal role in Central Asia’s peace and security, commits to the rational use of water and energy resources. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s comprehensive approach focuses on peace, economic development, and cooperation. Mirziyoyev’s leadership is exemplified by ambitious reforms, including the goal to derive 30% of Uzbekistan’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
President Mirziyoyev’s commitment to green reforms is integral to Uzbekistan’s sustainability drive, as demonstrated by the establishment of the International Innovation Center of the Aral Sea Region in 2018. Mirziyoyev’s policies, including the State Program for the Aral Sea region and the Program for Karakalpakstan’s development, underscore a holistic approach.
At the UN, President Mirziyoyev warned of the region’s alarming temperature rise and disappearing glaciers. He called on the international community to take action and announced Uzbekistan’s initiative to host the International Climate Forum in 2024. The forum aims to discuss opportunities for international cooperation and attract climate finance to address risks and threats in Central Asia.
The resolution’s approval marks a significant step towards strengthening regional cooperation and addressing urgent environmental issues in Central Asia. By collaborating and supporting the region, stakeholders can build resilience to climate change and pave the way for a sustainable and prosperous future.