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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

06 June 2023

ESCAP ES

Excellency Mr. Kokhir Rasulzoda, Prime Minister of Tajikistan,

Mr. Sulton Rahimzoda, Chairman of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS),

Excellencies, distinguished participants,

It is my pleasure to join you in this dialogue on regional cooperation commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of IFAS.

At the outset, I take the opportunity to recognize the leadership role of the President of Tajikistan in raising awareness of water-related issues and the need for strengthening multilateral cooperation mechanisms. I also extend my appreciation to the members of IFAS for their commitment and dedication to this cause.

ESCAP also welcomes the initiative by President Rahmonof to declare 2025 as the International Year of Glaciers’ Preservation and designating 21 March as the World Day for Glaciers.

Distinguished participants,

First, I wish to acknowledge the importance of the initiatives undertaken by IFAS, which have registered remarkable success: with the increased visibility and awareness about the Aral Sea problem, IFAS has raised the importance of effective and sustainable natural resources management in the region while ensuring an effective mechanism for the management of transboundary waters of the Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya rivers and the restoration of biodiversity of the Northern Aral Sea and the Aral Sea zone.

 

The initiatives spearheaded by IFAS have played a critical role in addressing a complex challenge and working towards sustainable solutions.

Second, for long-term results, it is imperative to situate the Aral Sea issue in the context of climate change.

The challenges faced by the region, including increased water scarcity, extreme weather events and rising temperatures, are being exacerbated as we inch closer to 1.5-degree global warming. As we confront these realities, it is crucial that we forge partnerships to jointly find comprehensive solutions.

In this regard, ESCAP can play a helpful role by working hand in hand with IFAS. ESCAP’s expertise in translating the science of climate change to policy actions for sustainable development can be harnessed to support the efforts of IFAS in addressing the multifaceted challenges of the Aral Sea.

Through joint research, capacity-building programs and technical assistance, ESCAP and IFAS can create a synergy that leads to innovative solutions for the region.

Lastly, last month at the 79th session of the Commission, member States adopted a resolution on “Consideration of the modalities for the establishment of the United Nations special programme for the Aral Sea Basin” with the intention of promoting regional and international cooperation to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of disasters in the water basin of the Aral Sea. ESCAP looks forward to implementing the resolution in collaboration with IFAS.

 

Excellencies,

The Aral Sea crisis demands our immediate attention and collective action.

This event, by bringing together policymakers, experts, scientists, academia and financing institutions, is an important step towards identifying the complementarities and synergies that will enhance regional cooperation and build the resilience needed to protect people and the planet.

 I look forward to the successful outcomes of this event.

Thank you very much.

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