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BISHKEK (TCA) — The Federal Foreign Office of Germany has launched Green Central Asia, a regional initiative on climate and security in Central Asia and Afghanistan, during a high-level conference in Berlin on 28 January aimed at strengthening cooperation in the region as well as the exchange between policy-makers, academia and civil society. Foreign ministers of Germany, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as the EU High Representative and Vice President Josep Borrell attended the conference, as a result of which a joint declaration on cooperation in the field of climate and security in Central Asia and Afghanistan was signed.

This includes the spheres of water and glacier protection in particular, energy, biodiversity, land management and agriculture and is to be implemented at national and regional level. The aim of the Green Central Asia initiative is to create better access to information and promote academic cooperation in the Central Asian states and Afghanistan during the next four years. The concrete implementation of the declaration is to be underpinned by a high-level political dialogue format, the German Federal Foreign Office reported.

With its Green Central Asia initiative, the German Federal Foreign Office intends to support regional integration between the six Central Asian countries concerned with a view to fostering the dialogue on the consequences of climate change and the risks associated with it. Germany is pursuing a preventive and stabilising foreign policy in the region and, to this end, is supporting the European Union’s strategy for Central Asia, which was adopted in June 2019.

In Central Asia and Afghanistan, climate change has had a particularly severe impact on water, land and soils, among other things due to the melting of mountain glaciers.

At the conference, the EU High Representative and Vice President Josep Borrell reaffirmed the EU’s engagement to strengthen cooperation with Central Asia on this and many other fronts, the EU reported.

“Climate change is geopolitical challenge, affecting all of us, including in security terms. Central Asia is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions. If we take decisive action now, we can avoid predictable – and predicted – disasters coming our way,” said Borrell at the opening of the conference. “We need to step up science-based, collaborative solutions across the region. In that effort, the EU is real partner for Central Asia and Afghanistan.”

“The EU can offer a genuinely regional and cross-border approach to Central Asia's challenges – unlike some of your other partners,” Borrell said. “We have experiences to share. For example, our emissions trading system can help regions adjust, as they move away from coal, and we can share our know-how in clean, renewable energy sources. We also have the means to help, as the world's foremost climate finance donor. Together with our Member States, we provide over 40% of the world's public climate finance.”

The EU is already involved in several regional EU initiatives focused on tackling the negative consequences of climate change:

EU-Central Asia Platform for Environment and Water Cooperation

Established in 2009, it is one of the main regional programmes promoting cooperation on a highly sensitive issue in the region. Shrinking glaciers have increased competition over water resources, and land degradation alone has an estimated cost of about €6 billion a year, according to the UNDP. Its Working Group will hold its next meeting in Brussels on 12-13 February.

Central Asia Water and Energy Programme (CAWEP)

A multi-donor Trust Fund that has facilitated inter-governmental cooperation on the management of common water resources such as the Aral Sea basin. Its next phase will see the inclusion of Afghanistan, a country where 90% of the water systems are cross-border.

Supporting sustainable uranium legacy sites

The increasingly frequent floods and landslides threaten to cause the disastrous spread of toxic and radioactive waste from uranium legacy sites into the region's trans-boundary rivers. The EU has invested €41 million to support plans for the seven most high-priority sites in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

In 2020, the EU will launch a new project focused on strengthening the ability of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to address the security implications of climate change in the Fergana Valley.

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