Strengthening Water Management and Transboundary Water Cooperation in Central Asia: the Role of UNECE Environmental Conventions

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
Publication Date: 

Central Asia is a region of exceptional strategic importance: it is a major energy exporter, it has the potential to become a key Eurasian transport hub and may well be an important contributor to the long-term stabilization of Afghanistan. Improved regional cooperation among Central Asian countries, which share similar challenges of transitional economies, is a precondition for fully developing their economic potential and for regional and global security and stability, as well as sustainable development and environmental protection. While certain progress in many areas of regional cooperation has been achieved in Central Asia, unresolved challenges to such cooperation remain. The Federal Foreign Office of Germany has initiated the Berlin Process on “Transboundary Water Management in Central Asia” as an integral part of the Water and Energy Pillar of the EU’s strategy for a new partnership with Central Asia. This German initiative aims at promoting regional co-operation and stability. Among others, it provides assistance to modernise the legal basis for water resources management in Central Asia and beyond.

The present publication was developed under the initiative’s project on “Regional Dialogue and Cooperation on Water Resources Management” by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). It is intended to help experts and policymakers alike to better understand how the UNECE environmental conventions can contribute to the development of transboundary cooperation and more effective management of regional water resources in Central Asia. The publication presents these legal instruments together in a comprehensive way and highlights that, as appropriate, a legal framework offers room for an impartial and balanced nature of rights and obligations concerning the use, management and protection of shared resources, codified in the UNECE conventions.