STATEMENT of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan H.E. Mr. Sirojiddin Muhriddin at Enhancing environment, climate and water resilience Conference

20.02.2020 09:55

 H.E. Mr. Heiko Maas, Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany,

 Excellencies,

 Distinguished colleagues,

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

 At the outset, allow me to express my gratitude to the host of today’s gathering –

German Federal Foreign Office for their hospitality and launching Green Central Asia initiative aimed at supporting a dialogue in the region on climate change and risks associated with it.

Dear colleagues,

The results of climate change can be seen everywhere and it affects every individual

across all continents. Climate Change affects also polar ice, sea levels, mountains, forests, glaciers, and land and water resources. As the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates, “we have less than 12 years left to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C, and that window of opportunity is closing fast”.

The COP 24 in Katowice and the UN SG Climate Summit of 2019, in our view, created the timely political momentum for bold climate actions. Tajikistan was a member of Nature-Based Solution Coalition and contributed to the Summit by emphasizing close interlinkages of climate change with freshwater resources.

Excellencies,

Tajikistan is a mountainous country, where the main part of the water resources of

Central Asia is being accumulated. Mountain and foothill areas of the country are the main zone of flow formation of the Aral Sea basin. Significant water resources of the country create a huge hydropower potential. For instance, the share of hydropower in an energy balance of the country is around 98 %. In other words, we produce almost 100% “green energy”. It is well known that climate change has a direct impact on economies and the wellbeing of the populations. The long-term observations of our experts attest to the increasing impact of climate change on the environment, social and economic situation in Tajikistan and Central Asia. According to their estimates, over the past 60 years:

- the average annual air temperature in Tajikistan increased by 1 degree Celsius;

- the number of days with heavy precipitation increased;

- frequency and intensity of natural hydrometeorological phenomena increased;

- the amplitude of low-water and high-water seasons was disrupted;

- there is a sharp inter-seasonal transition, which earlier used to be more smooth.

Glaciers and mountain ecosystems, which play a crucial role in the sustainable

development of the whole Central Asian region, are degrading due to the impacts of

climate change.

Whilst the recent Himalayan and Hindukush Assessment report warns that the world

highest glaciers are melting and at least the third of them will be gone by the end of the century, the Central Asian glaciers, which are the primary source of water for the rivers in the region, have been degrading.

 

According to our estimates, we have lost 20% of the volume and 30% of the area of glaciers over the past 50-60 years. That could undermine the water, food and energy security for millions of people. More immediate fallout will bring more flooding, mudflows as the accelerated melting of glaciers can cause a significant rise in the discharge of waters.

As a result, over recent years, Tajikistan has witnessed a substantial increase in the number and intensity of extreme natural hazards. Annually such natural disasters as floods, flooding, mudflows, avalanches and landslides cause severe damage to the population and the economy of the country.  Over the last five to six years, the intensity of natural disasters in Tajikistan has increased by 25%. During this period, various natural disasters claimed about 200 human lives, the lives of nearly 100,000 people were disturbed. Annually the total amount of economic damage due to natural disasters exceeds several hundred millions US dollars.

 

Environmental degradation as a result of soil erosion, water pollution and deforestation increasingly constrain economic growth of the country. Since almost all area of Tajikistan is considered as arid and semi-arid, these impacts are especially pronounced with climate change and increased aridity. The conditions are worse in mountain regions: soil erosion of rain-fed farmlands,  degradation of pastures, forests and bushes, with a subsequent loss of biodiversity; degradation due to natural disasters (mudflows and floods).

Hence, Tajikistan, as a landlocked developing country, considers that climate change

poses not only security risk, but also development risks undermining efforts in achieving 2030 Agenda and its SDGs. Several other studies indicate that climate change will continue to pose serious complex risks, including security, development, and environmental, as well the socio-economic one. Today urgent measures are needed to be undertaken to adapt to the dramatic effects of climate change and to promote the sustainable management of natural resources in the region.

It can be achieved only through the coordinated actions of all countries involved in

constructive regional cooperation, with due consideration to their respective interests, the improvement of the institutional and legal framework, and a significant increase in investments in infrastructures.

Dear participants,

The efficient use of fresh water, which is the most vulnerable resource to climate change, plays a significant role in achieving the SDGs. Over the past fifteen years Tajikistan, together with UN Member-States and UN agencies, has promoted a number of global initiatives, including “International Year of Freshwater, 2003”, International Decade for Action “Water for Life, 2005-2015”, “International Year of Water Cooperation, 2013 ", and the new action decade “Water for Sustainable Development,” 2018-2028”. They continue to provide a timely and useful platform for cooperation in the promotion of integrated use of water resources and acceleration access to safe drinking water and sanitation, as well the overall achievement of water-related goals and targets.

Therefore, the Government of Tajikistan is committed to continuing providing a platform for policy dialogue, partnership and actions, by organizing, with the support of the United Nations and other partners, high-level international conferences throughout the Water Action Decade, thus establishing “Dushanbe Water Process”.

To this end, we will host in cooperation with the United Nations and other partners from 18 to 20 June 2020 a Second High-level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development, 2018 2028” entitled “Catalyzing water action and partnership at the local, national, regional and global levels”. The conference will be co-chaired by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan and the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. Taking this opportunity, we would like to extend our invitation to you all for active participation in this important conference in June 2020.

Dear colleagues,

We believe the Green Central Asia initiative has the potential to succeed in our region. Hence, it should contribute and complement our efforts in addressing challenges and problems, caused by climate change, as well as help to achieve sustainable development, strengthening resilience and stability in the country, region and beyond.

To this end, we would like to touch upon some of the areas of our possible cooperation within this initiative. First, joint utilization of huge “green” potential (98% of electricity in Tajikistan produced by hydropower stations, 527 billion KWh per year) of Tajikistan within this initiative could contribute to integrated solutions of many existing and potential problems in Central Asia, in particular:

- ensuring water, energy and food security of our countries;

- significant reduction in emissions of GHGs (GHG emissions per person in

Tajikistan are less than 1 ton per person per year),

- prevention of extreme meteorological events (drought, floods, and mudslides).

One should not also forget about a vast potential of renewable source of energy, such as solar and wind, which could complement all the efforts in this direction. Second, it is necessary to strengthen monitoring of glaciers, snow and other water sources and take additional measures to protect them for future generations. To this end, we would like to recall the proposal of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan H.E. Mr. Emomali Rahmon to strengthen international cooperation in the field of saving water resources and create International Fund for Glacier Preservation.

Third, cooperation of the countries of the region but most importantly the assistance of international donors in the aftermath of natural disasters through the development of preventive measures and the creation of appropriate funds to assist countries in need would be very vital. We propose under the Green Central Asia to join our efforts in disaster risks reduction through improving the transport networks, shore protection

activities, constructing anti- avalanches galleries and others.  Fourth, cooperation on reforestation. Forests in Tajikistan perform mainly wate conservation, soil erosion control, agricultural and recreational functions. According to available data 3% of the Tajikistan is covered with forests, which since independence, were reduced by 27%. Recreational resources of Tajikistan are also important potential for the future development of ecological tourism. Cooperation on these fields could support efforts in greening the Central Asia. Last but not least, Germany for many years has been supporting countries of Central Asia through International Fund for Saving of Aral Sea. In this connection, we believe this cooperation could be further strengthened via the Green Central Asia initiative. As a Chair of the IFAS - Tajikistan intends to continue efforts to develop practical measures to solve water issues in the region, taking into account the interests of all Central Asian countries and promote the rational, efficient and reasonable use of water resources at the national and regional levels.

I thank you for your attention!

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