25 March 2009
A group of national experts and representatives of international organizations will discuss issues related to surface and groundwater resources that are transboundary between Kazakhstan and her neighbours at a March 26 round table in Almaty, Kazakhstan.The round table, which is organized by UNESCO, National Committee of Kazakhstan for the International Hydrological Programme and UNDP in Almaty, will focus on the challenges posed by management of transboundary waters, the theme of World Water Day, March 22, 2009.
The event will also highlight the major findings of the third UN World Water Development Report, which is the most comprehensive assessment of global freshwater resources to date.
“Competition for water is intensifying – whether between countries, urban and rural areas, or different sectors of activity”, the report says. This competition is greater over transboundary basins – water basins that are within the territory of two or more nations – leading to tensions between different groups of users. In Central Asia, irregular water demand, caused for example by hydro-power generation during the cold season and watering crops during the growth season, is a particular challenge for transboundary water management.
Seven out of Kazakhstan's eight main river basins are transboundary. As demonstrated by the establishment of basin councils, Kazakhstan is striving towards integrated water resources management (IWRM), an approach that is generally accepted internationally.
Managing transboundary water basins – the natural water management unit – requires information to be shared across boundaries, both sectorial and national, to enable informed decisions about water use. Producing this information will require an active domestic scientific community with the resources necessary to perform their work.
The March 26 round table will include presentations on significant water management issues, such as the prospects for changes in the flows of the transboundary rivers. Participants will discuss the constraints that limit the ability to obtain information on the status of water resources from other agencies and from neighbouring countries. They will also exchange ideas on effective mechanisms for sharing information at the regional level, and for establishing a dialogue between users and providers of information to ensure research is relevant to policy-making. International organizations, UNESCO, UNDP, the European Commission, OSCE and CAREC, will also discuss ongoing and future projects to support cooperation in managing transboundary waters in Central Asia.
For complementary information about the round table, please contact Annukka Lipponen (a.lipponen(at)unesco.org) tel. +7727 2582643 ext. 1424 or Anna Zotkina (a.zotkina(at)unesco.org), tel. +7727 2582643 ext. 1421).