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UN-Backed Seminar Assesses Impact of Glaciers Melting on Water Systems in Central Asia

UNESCO15 April 2013: Approximately 60 researchers and officials from the five Central Asian States and Afghanistan, as well as representatives from international organizations and the donor community, gathered at a UN-backed seminar to discuss the impact of glacier melting on the water resources of Central Asia and review practical steps in adaptation strategies at national and regional levels.

The seminar, titled “Impact of Glaciers Melting on National and Trans-boundary Water Systems in Central Asia,” took place on 11-12 April 2013, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on the basis of the cooperation between the UN Regional Center of Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Almaty office, the Executive Committee of International Fund for saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) and the World Bank, with the support of the Government of the US through the UNRCCA.

Participants discussed: the state of glaciers and snow-ice resources of high mountains and prevailing trends; the impact of glaciers melting and reduction of snow-ice resources on water cycles and water formation; the impact of glaciers degradation on socioeconomic processes and environmental changes in the region; the value added of the regional cooperation and its possible forms in the context of potential reduction of snow-ice resources in the region; and the role of international institutions in facilitating the search for adequate solutions to reduce the risks and to ensure early warnings.

According to UNESCO, the main river system of Central Asia and the drainage of the Aral Sea are heavily dependent on snow and glacier melt in their mountain headwaters. However, the glaciers of Central Asia are experiencing a rapid decline in mass, which will lead to significant impacts on the large populations of the region.

The seminar was organized in the framework of the International Year of Water Cooperation, and aims to serve as an initial effort in promoting a dialogue and cooperation on sustainable management of water resources among countries of Central Asian region.

The countries represented at the seminar were the five Central Asian States, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as Afghanistan. [UNESCO Press Release]