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UNEP launches new presence in Central Asia by featuring in high-level ICSD meeting

Just weeks after the opening of a new sub-regional office for Central Asia in Almaty, Kazakhstan, UNEP solidified its presence in one of the world’s regions most affected by climate change by supporting an Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development of Central Asia (ICSD) meeting.

The most recent ICSD meeting, at which Turkmenistan assumed the rotating chairmanship, was held in Ashgabat on 16-18 June and attended by ministers and high-level officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had immediately prior to the event visited all five Central Asian states, calling for closer cooperation in the region on sustainable development, climate change and the environment.

The UN’s environmental authority was represented in Ashgabat by Jan Dusik, Regional Director for Europe, and Natalia Alexeeva – Head of UNEP’s new sub-regional office for Central Asia. Ms Alexeeva has vast experience in the sustainability field for the region after working for the Global Water Partnership, German Agency for International Cooperation GIZ, United Nations Development Programme and others. The office officially opened in May and now covers UNEP’s work in the five ICSD member countries.

“UNEP can provide a link between the sub-regional, regional and global environmental agenda and facilitate exchange of best practices between Central Asian countries and the rest of the world. Both the proceedings of the ICSD meeting and opening of the new UNEP office reflect how the environment is a growing political priority for Central Asia,” commented Mr Dusik.

At the meeting and further to the request from the countries, UNEP committed itself to support the countries on mountains, waste management, moves to a green economy in light of the upcoming Batumi conference and to provide legislative and institutional support. UNEP will now step up its support to ICSD work in improving the management and exchange of environmental data (such as by upgrading the current Ecoportal system and linking it to UNEP Live), assessing the impacts of climate change and furthermore on supporting regional institutions and cooperation arrangements.

The ICSD is one of the three bodies of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, alongside the Executive Committee and the Interstate Commission on Water Cooperation. UNEP’s support to ICSD is coordinated with UNECE, in line with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two UN entities in May.

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