On 29 October, Andrejs Pildegovičs, the State Secretary of the Latvian Foreign Ministry, in his presentation at the conference “Development of Cooperation in the Aral Sea Basin to Mitigate Consequences of Environmental Catastrophe” in the city of Urgench (Uzbekistan) said that Latvia is preparing to include environmental issues of Central Asia in the programme of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
One of the gravest global environmental disasters of modern times is the tragedy of the Aral Sea facing the countries of Central Asia and their population of some 60 million. Its environmental, climatic, socioeconomic and humanitarian consequences make it a direct threat to sustainable development in the region, and to the health, gene pool and future of the people living there. The Aral Sea region crisis directly affects Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and affects Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan indirectly.
Since the 1990s, all the countries suffering the destructive consequences of the Aralcatastrophe have spoken out regularly at the United Nations and in other international and regional organizations to alert the international community to the problems of the Aral Sea and their close connection with regional and global security. In 28 September 1993, during the forty-eighth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and on 24 October 1995, during the fiftieth session, representatives of the countries of Central Asia appealed to the international community to provide assistance in saving the Aral Sea and the surrounding region, and warned that this problem could not be resolved without the support and assistance of international financial institutions and developed countries, with the United Nations in a coordinating role.
On national level, Uzbekistan takes tremendous measures to combat negative impacts of drying of the Aralsee. Hundreds of programs and projects have been realized since early 1990-s. A 1.3 billion-dollar-plan to finance projects and measures in the Aral Sea region has been approved for 2013, providing for the creation of small local bodies of water in the Amu Darya delta, construction of water intake facilities with desalination installations, the creation of protective forest plantations and ornithological monitoring of bodies of water in the southern part of the region.
The opportunities for addressing environmental matters in Central Asian countries in depth will be provided by the “Green Bridge Forum” which takes place on 15-18 April, 2015 in Jurmala.