Thursday, 20, June, 2024

A High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change and Resilience in Central Asia kicked off in Bishkek today. The event brought together government officials from Central Asian countries, international experts and scientists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Italy, Japan, Serbia and Montenegro to discuss the crucial role of early warning systems in building resilience and mitigating climate change in Central Asia.

The countries of Central Asia are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Intense heat waves, drought, heavy rainfall and other extreme weather events are becoming a major problem for the environment, economy and human health. 40 million of the region's 75 million people live under constant threat from earthquakes, mudflows and floods that could affect more than one country. Early warning systems offer a proactive tool to reduce risks and minimize the effects of such natural disasters. They are a priority in the fight against climate change, aligned with global frameworks such as the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Risk Reduction, while making a significant contribution to development agenda.

Azamat Mambetov, Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic stressed at the opening of the conference:

"Regional coordination and cooperation are necessary to share experiences and innovations to strengthen early warning systems in the name of saving lives."

Alexandra Solovyova, UNDP Resident Representative in Kyrgyzstan, noted:

"For many years UNDP in Kyrgyzstan has been assisting in the creation and development of a unified management system in emergency and crisis situations. Today we offer a platform for regional dialogue on climate resilience in Central Asia. We hope that this dialogue will help strengthen cross-border cooperation in the field of monitoring and early warning of emergency situations, because climate change does not recognize borders."

Today's high-level event, organized by the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Kyrgyz Republic, the UNDP Istanbul Regional Center with the financial support of the European Union, is designed to promote cross-border cooperation in the field of monitoring and early warning of emergencies and crisis situations.

The European Union has identified climate change as one of the priorities in its cooperation with international partners. 

"As the world's largest donor of climate finance, the European Union, together with its member states, has already invested more than €105 billion in Central Asian states over the past 10 years. We will continue to support Central Asian countries in political dialogue, development cooperation and multi-stakeholder partnerships, as well as through a strategic approach to regional development," highlighted Marilyn Josefson, Ambassador of the European Union to Kyrgyzstan.

Given the transboundary nature of climate risks, early warning systems are also becoming a relevant agenda for regional cooperation in Central Asia.

"Countries should prioritize the establishment and development of an early warning system in the Central Asian region, investing in the necessary infrastructure, capacity building and knowledge sharing. By using technology, data and promoting regional cooperation, we will be able to prepare for climate risks in advance and mitigate their impact on our society, economy and ecosystems," said Bakytgul Baitanbalieva, Head of the Scientific and Technical Development Department of the Climate Policy Department of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

In the recently adopted strategy "Uzbekistan - 2030", a separate section is devoted to issues and tasks for water conservation and environmental protection, in particular, it is planned to bring the level of early warning, the reliability of risk forecasts, the reliability of agrometeorological forecasts to maximum values.

"We believe that expanding regional cooperation and consolidating joint efforts is crucial for resolving these issues,"  said Kadamboy Saytov, Head of the Minister’s Secretariat at the Ministry of Ecology, Environment and Climate Change of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

The High-Level Dialogue is aligned with global efforts to advance climate action and reaffirms the commitment of Central Asian countries to building a sustainable and climate-resilient future for all. Hotamsho Latifzoda, First Deputy of the Committee on Emergency Situations and Civil Defense under the Government of Tajikistan emphasized: "We live in an era of climate change that affects us all. Climate is a "threat multiplier" but also an accelerator of global cooperation. This fact contributes to the unity of peoples and cooperation towards global sustainable development, taking into account adaptation to climate change."

"Turkmenistan, in close cooperation with the countries in the region, is systematically working on adaptation to climate change and sustainable development in Central Asia and to the environmental problems our region is facing," said Khojanyaz Zhumashov, Head of the Meteorology Department of the Hydrometeorological Service of the Ministry of Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan.

In March 2022, the UN Secretary-General launched the Early Warning for All initiative and called for every person on Earth to be protected by early warning systems by 2027.

Since 2002, UNDP has successfully implemented more than 80 projects related to climate information and early warning around the world, benefiting more than 4.8 million people in 60 countries, including Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. More than 150 early warning systems have been installed, increasing access to critical climate information for 2.3 million people.

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