Cooperation on water in Central Asia


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

UNECE work to improve water management and cooperation in Central Asia build on two pillars/mandates: the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) with the SPECA water and energy programme of work, and the application of the UNECE regional environmental conventions.
SPECA was launched in 1998 on the request from the region to strengthen cooperation in Central Asia and its integration into the world economy.
In recent years UNECE has intensified its engagement with Central Asian water issues. Its approach has been to identify windows of opportunity for the implementation of the UNECE Conventions as well as components of the SPECA regional strategy, to fund-raise and to initiate projects. All projects are implemented on the direct request of participating countries.
UNECE is engaged in developing integrated water resources management in the Central Asian States. In cooperation with Germany and other EU countries, UNECE might also play a role in the implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia in the water and energy sectors. Among organizations in the region, UNECE works closely with IFAS, ICWC and EurAsEC. Source: Bo Libert,


United Nations Environment Program

UNEP is Central Asia is focused on the following: In International Waters; In Environment Assessment Activities; In Biodiversity Conservation; In Provision of Legal and Policy Assistance; In Ozone Layer Protection Activities;
In International Waters UNEP assists in Legal and Institutional Capacity Building; Assistance for the Caspian Sea Environment Framework Convention; Total funding implemented through UNEP: more than US$ 800,000.
In Environment Assessment Activities : in Environment and Natural Resources Information Network (ENRIN); Assessment reports and electronic SoE; Training and seminars; Methodology development; Environment Information Centres; UNEP core funding: US$ 600,000; Preparatory consultations with the CA countries.
In Biodiversity Conservation UNEP deals with Third Regional Meeting in Central And Eastern Europe of the CBD; Fourth Meeting of the COP 4 (Almaty); Workshop on Legal Aspects of the Implementation of COB; Joint Environment Law Programming Meeting, Almaty; Seminar/Donors Meeting on Implementation of NBSAP of Uzbekistan.
In Provision of Legal and Policy Assistance: Harmonised Approach to Environment Legislation in CIS Countries; Fifth International Conference on Environment Compliance and Enforcement.
In Ozone Layer Protection Activities: Development of National Country Programmes on ODS Phaseout; Capacity Building: Institutional Strengthening and Training; Total Funding implemented by UNEP: more than US$ 2 mln; Assistance for Compliance with the Provisions of the Montreal Protocol and its Amendments: Regional Studies, Regional Meetings, Regional Projects.


United Nations Development Program
UNDP is one of the most notable and acknowledged UN agencies in Central Asia's water sector. It occasionally plays an important role as an intermediary, especially when donors do not have their own offices in Central Asia. In such cases, UNDP can make recommendations to donors based on its fieldwork with local NGOs and international partners. UNDP also implements water-related projects, for example through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that provides grants for projects on biodiversity, climate change and international waters.27 UNDP is also involved in coordinating national level information-sharing about development-related projects. At a regional level, like the EU, UNDP has participated in institutional coordination initiatives such as the Central Asian Regional Risk Assessment (CARRA), an international effort to 'proactively help Central Asia's governments to better manage humanitarian and developmentrisks'.28 This is a high-level initiative, with one or two conferences per year, where donors discuss coordination priorities, including those on water. UNDP has organised, inter alia, training in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in collaboration with local consulting firms. Source:


United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
The ESCAP Subregional Office for North and Central Asia (SONCA) was established under United Nations General Assembly Resolution 63/260 as a result of the United Nations Secretary-General's pledge to strengthen the UN Development Pillar.
SONCA was accredited on 5 July 2011 in Almaty, Kazakhstan and better positions the ESCAP to address sustainable and inclusive development priorities in the subregion comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan participates in the activities of SONCA as a member of the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA).
Main objectives of SONCA are to achieve internationally agreed-upon development goals by promoting inclusive and sustainable social and economic development, to address social and economic disparities and strengthen subregional economic cooperation, partnerships and knowledge-sharing among member countries, the private sector, civil society and other development partners in order to ensure inclusive and environmentally-friendly development for all.
SONCA will facilitate the improvement of regional connectivity by encouraging transport infrastructure development and facilitating agreements to boost regional trade and economic prosperity, support the implementation of macroeconomic reforms and sustainable development, with a focus on energy and water resources. It also coordinates the activities under the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia which is supported by ESCAP and the Economic Commission for Europe and covers five Central Asian economies, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
The United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) has more than 50 field offices around the world. In Central Asia organization mostly deals with culture and education, but has some projects on transboundary waters in Central Asia within the International Hydrological Programme as well. UNESCO's work in the water sector is built on three tracks: hydrological science for policy relevant advice; education and capacity building responding to the growing needs of sustainable development; water resources assessment and management to achieve environmental sustainability. Source:



Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

Japan has launched a new Central Asia policy, the "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue, which is aimed at achieving peace, stability, and prosperity in the region through the economic development of individual countries in the region. The policy rests on two pillars: (i) continuing the effort to further strengthen bilateral relationships, and (ii) promoting dialogue and cooperation with Central Asia as a whole. Japan is ready to be a "catalyst" of regional cooperation through bilateral agreements and technical cooperation.
In August 2004, the foreign ministers of the Central Asian countries and then Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Ms. Yoriko Kawaguchi met at the first "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue and Foreign Ministers Meeting in Astana. Challenges for the region as a whole were divided into 10 spheres: five short-term (terrorism prevention, mine clearing, drug seizure, poverty reduction, and health-care system improvement) and five long-term challenges (environmental problems, water, energy, trade and investment promotion, and transportation). Japan is represented in all these spheres in the Central Asian countries through JICA (technical cooperation), JBIC (yen loans), and the Japanese embassies (grant aid). Also, since 1999 Japan has donated $88 million to international organizations such as the World Bank, EBRD, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Each year JICA invites prospective trainees from Central Asia and the Caucasus countries to attend 21 training courses specially designed for them. The courses are in health care, transport, finance, environment protection, business management, statistics, government and human resources management, energy industry, water use, accession to WTO, disaster prevention, and other areas. Source:


Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

GTZ is strengthening the capacity of government and other institutions in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan, to remove trade barriers and promote regional trade. It supports regional cooperation in the fight against desertification, in vocational training, and in legal reform. The Transboundary Water Management in Central Asia Programme is implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office .Under the Programme, measures are implemented that not only optimise cooperation in the Central Asian water sector, but also improve the lives of people in the region. Effective water management and cross-border cooperation contribute to stability and security and thus to sustainable economic development. The programme operates in Central Asia since 2009 and will continue until 2014. Starting from 2012 the activities of the programme are co-funded by the European Union. Source:


The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

Switzerland supports Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in their economic, social and political transitions as part of its Foreign Policy. During the period 2012–2015, the overall Swiss Cooperation planned disbursements amount to approximately CHF 195.5 million. The Swiss Cooperation Offices in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are responsible for the implementation of the Central Asia Strategy 2012-2015. Regional cooperation focuses on projects and programs that involve at least two of the five Central Asian countries. This approach fosters interaction between the countries and contributes to the dialogue and exchange of information, striving for win-win solutions with regard to resources allocations and management. Source:


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

The USAID Regional Mission for Central Asian Republics is headquartered in Almaty, Kazakhstan, with country offices in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan; and provides broad programmatic and administrative support to USAID/Kyrgyz Republic in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Central Asia is bordered by Russia, China, Iran and Afghanistan. Due to its substantial oil and gas reserves, it is a region of considerable geopolitical and strategic interest to the United States.
The Regional Mission for Central Asia (USAID/CAR) is responsible for the strategic planning, program design and implementation, achievement of results, and reporting for the USAID assistance programs for the five Central Asian Republics. The U.S. Government's program of assistance in the region is focused on the growth of small-scale enterprise and trade; building a more open, democratic culture; better management of environmental resources, including energy; and improved primary healthcare. It ranks as one of the Agency's largest programs, with funding levels that have averaged over $110 million annually. The Mission implements its programs together with more than 80 implementing organizations funded via acquisition and/or assistance mechanisms. The staff manages a program that addresses six program areas principally focused on assisting these former communist states in making the transition to Western-style democracies with viable market economies. Source:




World Bank

The World Bank Group in February 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of its engagement in Central Asia. Over this period, the Bank has supported the efforts of the countries to improve the living standards of their people, promote economic growth, and ensure that future generations benefit from sound environmental practices and social development.
The countries of Central Asia share more than just geography; they also share a similar legacy and, more importantly, a common vision for the future. Hence, the World Bank is increasingly approaching the development challenges of Central Asian countries through a regional lens. Such an approach facilitates cross-border cooperation and knowledge sharing and strengthens dialogue and collaboration between the countries.
Central Asia is endowed with rich and varied energy and water resources. A key element in the continued growth, prosperity, stability, and well-being of the population is the smart management of its resources. The World Bank has embarked on a comprehensive, long-term program to build energy and water security for the region by enhancing cooperation.
The Central Asia Energy-Water Development Program (CAEWDP) is designed to work regionally for national prosperity – it aims to strengthen regional cooperation and coordination to enhance energy and water security supporting national level efforts. Source:


Asian Development Bank

The UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and ADB entered into a partnership agreement on 7 November 2011 for a knowledge partnership to support the implementation of ADB's Water Financing Program in Central Asia.
Core Activities:
 Use of UNESCO-IHE's own and partner organizations' experts for project preparation and implementation, including peer review of complex projects. The priority areas of expertise include:
 government-corporate-society partnerships, including the corporatization of public utilities, and partnerships with knowledge institutes
 water and climate change
 water and food security
 water, environment, and ecosystems
 sanitation and wastewater management
 water governance
 Operational research and joint studies by making use of M.Sc and Ph.D. research students
 Promoting networking among clients and knowledge hubs
 Contribution to ADB conferences, workshops, seminars, and forums
 Education, training, and other capacity building activities to refresh the knowledge of DMC staff, including knowledge sharing activities with ADB staff
 Specific support to Country Water Assessments, "The Future of Water in Asia" study, Asian Water Info System, among other activities.


European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

The EBRD Water Fund, a multi-donor fund focusing on water projects in official development assistance (ODA) countries, was established in July 2010 with an initial focus on Central Asia.
The Water Fund operates following the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)/WHO Protocol on Water and Health, which allows increased international coordination for water and health assistance, and the EU Water Framework Directive for the protection of water.
Technical cooperation (TC) financed by the fund focuses on supporting governments in carrying out regulatory work and reforms related to the management, use and preservation of water resources, as well as activities related to the development and sustainable maintenance of safe water and sanitation facilities.
To date the Water Fund has approved almost €3.8 million for TC projects in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan which will help guarantee better water services to millions of citizens. Source:

Eurasian Development Bank

Eurasian Development Bank ("EDB" or the "Bank") is an international financial organization established to promote economic growth in its member states, extend trade and economic ties between them and to support integration in Eurasia.
In water sector in Central Asia Bank is mostly interested in socio-economic researches – in publishing reviews, assessments on water sectors investments, adaptation to climate change, dam safety and others.


Other Organizations

Organization for Security and co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

With 55 participating states, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is a prominent instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, conflict management and post-conflict rehabilitation in continental Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and North America. The OSCE is involved in several water projects, such as the establishment of a training centre in Kazakhstan's Kyzylorda desert in cooperation with the German and U.S. development agencies. However, as a political security organisation, the OSCE is less involved in the water sector as such when compared to the EU or the aforementioned UN agencies, especially in terms of program coordination. Source:



The Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia (CAREC)

The organization was initiated by the five Central Asian states, UNDP and the European Commission. It functions both as a governmental and a nongovernmental organization, as it works in close cooperation with the Central Asian governments as well as international donors and civil society. The European Commission has supported the organization financially for five years, but now it is in need of funding from other international agencies if it is to continue. Many observers in Central Asia see CAREC as the only noteworthy local organization that implements water-related projects on a regional level. UNDP cooperates mainly with CAREC on water issues and exceptionally includes it in its steering committee meetings. While there are many small-scale NGO projects at the national level, CAREC appears to be the only regional one. The organization hires local workers to carry out its activities; for example, CAREC has provided resources and training for monitoring water quality or planting tree saplings for and by the locals themselves. Source:

Soros Foundation
Soros Open Society Foundation activities in the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and Mongolia promote social progress and human rights by supporting programs, research, advocacy, and local organizations addressing issues such as democratic governance, human rights, and transparency and accountability.
Soros Foundation office in Kyrgyzstan has programs on the public health, the natural resource governance and educational programs on water and energy spheres.


Konrad Adenauer Foundation

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung as a dialogue partner is more than ever demanded to accompany and support the good chances for a balanced development in Asia.
The emphases of work in Asia cover:
 Support of the current democratization processes and promotion of the political structural change, "Good Governance"
 Intensification of the dialogue of parties and members of the parliament between Europe, Germany and ASEAN;
 Establishment of an administrative and a constitutional courts as well as protection of the civil rights;
 Reduction of the social consequences of the economic and monetary crisis;
 Stabilization of the media;
 Continuation of the value dialogue and the cultural exchange of ideas;
 Dialogue about matters of foreign and security politics.
Emphasis countries of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung are since the middle of the 90's the ASEAN states (mainly the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia) and the densely populated countries India (inclusive SAARC) and China.
Beyond that, successful cooperation is continued with the transformation countries of central Asia, with Vietnam, Cambodia and Mongolia.


Goethe Institut

The Goethe-Institut is the Federal Republic of Germany's cultural institute, active worldwide. GI finance and participate in implementing different projects in Central Asia. Glacier Music can be mentioned as one of the most interesting ones. It is a joint project by the Goethe-Instituts Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, aimed at raising awareness for advancing glacial melting and its disastrous consequences.


Universities and Scientific Institutions

The University of Vermont (Devis Center)

The University of Vermont combines faculty-student relationships most commonly found in a small liberal arts college with the resources of a major research institution. The university is home to 9,970 undergraduates, 1,317 graduate students, 454 medical students and 1,364 full- and part-time faculty. The Davis Center is equipped with innovative water-saving technologies. The building was designed to use 41% less water than a conventional building of comparable size (186,000 square feet). In addition, the green roof over the loading dock helps to manage stormwater runoff.

The Oregon State University

Oregon State is a leading research university located in one of the safest, smartest, greenest small cities in the nation. Situated 90 miles south of Portland, and an hour from the Cascades or the Pacific Coast, Corvallis is the perfect home base for exploring Oregon's natural wonders. Oregon State University has always been a place with a purpose — making a positive difference in quality of life, natural resources and economic prosperity in Oregon and beyond. Through discovery, innovation and application, we are meeting challenges, solving problems and turning ideas into reality. Oregon State also ranks high in sustainability, fourth among universities nationwide for using renewable energy and first in the Pac-12 Conference. Oregon State increasingly attracts high-achieving students, with nationally recognized programs in areas such as conservation biology, agricultural sciences, nuclear engineering, forestry, fisheries and wildlife management, community health, pharmacy and zoology.

The university of Texas

Founded in 1883, UT is one of the largest and most respected universities in the nation. The mission of The University of Texas at Austin is to achieve excellence in the interrelated areas of undergraduate education, graduate education, research and public service. The university provides superior and comprehensive educational opportunities at the baccalaureate through doctoral and special professional educational levels.
The University of Texas at Austin had its eye on sustainability as early as 1930, when they built a now internationally award-winning natural gas power plant in the middle of our dense, urban campus. Today, students, faculty, and staff continue their persistent efforts to preserve and expand our presence in sustainability in the classroom, athletics and residential life, and across campus.

Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik

For more than 50 years, the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (German Institute for International and Security Affairs - SWP) has provided analysis on foreign policy issues not only to the Bundestag and the German Federal Government, but also to economic actors and the general public. While the SWP initially dealt primarily with issues of disarmament, today there is a broad spectrum of analysis ranging from classic security policy issues to aspects of climate protection and the political challenges associated with resource scarcity. What makes the SWP stand out in relation to other bodies providing policy advice is that it relies on the informed analytical expertise of its own researchers. The SWP not only acts as a service provider through its procurement of up-to-date information and its needs-based advising, but also provides a venue for the execution of thorough analytical work. The Institute attaches particular importance to maintaining independence in selecting its focus areas.
To ensure that good ideas become even better ones and that they also be heard, these ideas must be questioned and challenged. Thus the SWP serves above all as a forum for exchange and communication. It is a calm location - but only on the outside - where decision makers can come together with our researchers to run through scenarios in a confidential atmosphere or to discuss issues without having to take into consideration day-to-day or party politics.
The importance of nurturing communication and an exchange of ideas in the proximity of the EU and NATO as well is a responsibility perceived, in particular, by the SWP's Brussels Office. Since 2009, Europe's largest think tank has had its representative office in Brussels, and has valued the lively exchange with other European institutes.


FFEM-EECCA project

"Capacity building in data administration for assessing transboundary water resources in the countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (FFEM-EECCA)" was initiated with the UNECE "Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes", the FFEM-EECCA project was financed thanks to a grant of the French Fund for Environment (FFEM) to the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (SHMI) hosting the International Water Assessment centre (IWAC), and was realized with the technical assistance of the International Office for Water (IOWater). With the aim to analyse "how to develop the access and use of the data and information necessary for water management at national and regional level", it was implemented on the Aral Sea Basin, in collaboration with EC-IFAS (Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea). For more information please visit:

Regional Coordination and Support for the EU – CA Enhanced Regional Cooperation on Environment and Water: WECOOP. The beneficiary countries are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Uzbekistan is included as an observer country.
The overall objective of this project is to promote and support enhanced regional co-operation on environment and water both between EU and Central Asia and within Central Asia as called by the EU CA Strategy.
The purpose is to support the development, effectiveness and visibility of the Environment and Water Cooperation Platform aiming at facilitating enhanced regional cooperation both between the EU and Central Asia and within Central Asia, through support to regular high-level meetings and joint expert working groups or other ad-hoc events, and through support to the strengthening of regional institutions responsible for environment and water issues.
This project has three components:
Component 1: The EU-CA Platform for Cooperation on Environment and Water
Component 2: Strengthening of institutional and development capacities of the regional institutions
Component 3: Communication/mapping/networking



Deane McKinney
Professor in the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering program of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. His research interests are in the area of sustainable management of water resources, especially the integration of engineering, economic, environmental and political considerations in transboundary basins. He has many publications about the Aral sea basin. Source:

Philip Micklin
He is a retired professor of geography from Western Michigan University. His primary research interests are water management in the former USSR, with a special focus on the new states of Central Asia.


Nikolay Aladin
Professor of Zoology and head of the Laboratory of Brackish Water Hydrobiology, Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, St-Petersburg. He has authored or edited seven books and over one hundred other scientific publications. His research focuses on the ecology, osmotic and ionic regulation of brackish, marine and halophilic Cladocera and Ostracoda and the hydrobiology of brackish and hypersaline environments. Professor Aladin is an international expert on the ecology of the (disappearing) Aral Sea. Source: