One of the main activities of IFAS is the Aral Sea Basin Program (ASBP). This is the main long-term action program in the region in the field of sustainable development, in particular for the sustainable management of water resources and related aspects. The program includes national and regional projects. It has its roots in the first UNEP-Soviet diagnostic study of the Aral Sea that was conducted in 1988-1991 in collaboration with the Soviet government. In 1992, the preparation of the ASBP began, and after ICAS and IFAS were founded in 1993, the program was officially launched as a joint effort of the World Bank, UNDP and UNEP. Its main goals were:
- Stabilizing the environment in the Aral Sea Basin;
- Restoring the disaster zone around the Sea;
- Improving management of transboundary waters in the basin;
- Developing the capacity of the regional organizations to plan and implement the program.
It developed into the most comprehensive international program addressing the Aral Sea crisis and enjoyed the active support and involvement of numerous multilateral and bilateral donors. These included the Asian Development Bank, UNESCO, the European Union and the governments of the USA, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland and others. In the first project phase, $280 million in credits and $48 million in grants were allocated.
In 2002, a second phase called ASBP-2 was developed after the five heads of state met in Dushanbe on 6 October 2002. IFAS planned to tackle a wide range of environmental, socioeconomic, water management and institutional problems for the period 2003-2010. According to EC IFAS, the contribution from the IFAS member states to the implementation of activities was over $1 billion, with additional financial support from donors, including UNDP, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, USAID, as well as the governments of Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Norway and others.