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UNECE Releases First Review of Turkmenistan’s Environmental Performance

UNECE21 December 2012: The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has released the first Environmental Performance Review (EPR) of Turkmenistan, which highlights several environmental issues as particular challenges, including: salinization of irrigated lands; water management; desertification; and biodiversity loss.

UNECE EPRs cover ten elements, including: environmental policy making, planning and implementation; financing of environmental policies; waste and water management; biodiversity conservation; and integration of environmental issues into energy and health policies. The EPR presents 67 recommendations on those elements.

On environmental policy and management, the EPR presents recommendations related to decision making for environmental protection, regulatory instruments for environmental protection, economic instruments and financing of environmental protection, international cooperation, and environmental monitoring, information, public participation and education. Recommendations include: improving roles of interdepartmental State commissions in coordinating action on environmental issues; increasing access to timely and appropriate environmental information, including by the public; coordinating across ministries; strengthening implementation of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs); and improving monitoring systems.

On management of natural resources and pollution, the EPR presents recommendations on air quality management, water management and protection of the Caspian Sea environment, land management, waste management, biodiversity and protected areas (PAs), and forestry and forest management. The report highlights that 90% of water in Turkmenistan is currently consumed for irrigation by the agriculture sector. Use of inefficient and outdated irrigation technologies has resulted in the salinization of 60% of agricultural land, which according to the EPR has resulted in a 20-30% decline in crop yields. The EPR also emphasizes that lack of information and monitoring of biodiversity and forests hinders management in these areas.

Recommendations include developing integrated water resources management (IWRM) plans, coastal zone management plans (CZMPs), national legislation in waste management, and a national forest programme and action plan. The EPR also calls for improved monitoring of forests, biodiversity, soil, waste disposal sites, and water quality and water consumption.

EPR recommendations on climate change include developing operational structures to coordinate and monitor adaptation and mitigation measures taken by Turkmenistan, and elaborating an adaptation strategy and a low carbon emission development strategy. The recommendations also call for strengthening observational capacity, raising awareness and including stakeholders, especially in planning mitigation activities in the forestry and agricultural sectors.

On energy, the EPR calls for improving environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures, increasing public access to information, developing energy efficiency legislation, and establishing an institution governing energy efficiency and renewable energy. [UNECE Press Release] [Publication: EPR of Turkmenistan]