High level representatives of all five Central Asian (CA) countries, the European Union (EU), International Financial Institutions (IFIs), international and regional organizations, and NGOs gathered for the 8th meeting of the EU-CA Working Group on Environment and Climate Change (WGECC) on 7-8 June 2018 in Tashkent to discuss the progress in cooperation on environment, climate change and water. The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Mr Massimo Cozzone from Italy, the coordinating EU country for the process.
The meeting gave an opportunity to share updates on the progress made since the last WGECC meeting, which took place in February 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. Points of discussion revolved around progress in the EU-CA regional cooperation in the areas of environment and climate change, and the perspectives of future policy developments at regional and bilateral levels.
The meeting also discussed ways to improve CA countries’ access to the Green Climate Fund, IFIs, the EU Investment Facility for Central Asia and bilateral programmes funding for projects in environment, with a focus on waste and water management, as well as energy and climate action Outcomes of the experts’ on-site visits to CA countries to review the selected investment project proposals in waste, air quality management and climate change adaptation were presented. The need for a strategic approach and appropriate environmental assessments, notably Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment were particularly emphasized as key elements for preparing successful environmental investment projects.
Ms Helge Elisabeth Zeitler, Deputy Head of Unit, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment said: “Strengthened cooperation on environment benefits both the EU and CA. With our joint efforts, we can ensure the sustainability of investments from the EU or others so that they substantially improve both the environment, and the life of our citizens and at the same time promote sustainable growth.”
Mr Massimo Cozzone, Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea said: “Central Asia is currently one of the most attractive regions in terms of sustainable development opportunities. The Italian Ministry, taking into consideration its long-standing engagement in the region, reaffirmed its commitment for the success of future activities of the Working Group, now focusing more and more on concrete actions, with the aim of supporting CA Countries in terms of development opportunities as well as in dealing with the main environmental challenges.”
The second phase of the EU-Central Asia enhanced Regional Cooperation on Environment, Climate Change and Water (WECOOP2) project, launched by the European Union (EU) in August 2016, aims at strengthening the dialogue between the Central Asia partners and at facilitating their cooperation with the EU on environment and climate change.
The Platform for Environment and Water Cooperation was established at the EU-CA High Level (Ministerial) Conference in Rome (Italy) in 2009 as the framework for the EU-CA cooperation in water and environment based on the EU Strategy for Central Asia agreed with the CA states.
The EU-CA Working Group on Environment and Climate Change (WGECC), chaired by The Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, assists in the identification of regional cooperation priority actions and supports the Platform by strengthening policy dialogue and cooperation at the regional level and between EU and CA.