OSCE PA delegation discusses regional co-operation on environmental issues in Uzbekistan, visits Aral Sea



130424 uzbekistan photo 1Farah Karimi visits the Cemetery of Ships, Moynaq city, 12 April 2024TASHKENT, 13 April 2024 – Wrapping up a three-country visit to Central Asia, an OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation led by Dutch Senator Farah Karimi was in Uzbekistan the past two days with the aim of strengthening regional co-operation and inter-parliamentary dialogue. With a focus on environmental matters, the delegation discussed the multifaceted impacts of climate change, enhancing the joint management of water and transboundary rivers, and promoting accessible clean energy resources.

In addition to meetings with governmental and parliamentary leaders, as well as academics, the activities included a visit to the Aral Sea, which has lost 90 per cent of its size since the 1960s due to Soviet irrigation projects that diverted two major rivers feeding the sea, triggering what is considered one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters. The delegation learned about the efforts made by Uzbekistan and the four other Central Asian republics to counter the adverse effects of desertification in the Aral Sea region, improve biodiversity, and strengthen climate change resilience. Reforms in the water sector with the aim of increasing efficiency of water use and exchange of best practice in this area were also among the main topics discussed.

“Today’s reality in Central Asia is defined by a multitude of global, regional, and national challenges. The people of this region are already experiencing the severe impacts of climate change. With rising temperatures, a significant loss of biodiversity, and water scarcity becoming a daily reality, there exists a political consensus and a profound understanding that none of these countries can tackle these issues in isolation,” Karimi noted. “We have witnessed a strong political will for the strengthening of regional and global collaboration. In this endeavor, it is therefore extremely important that we enhance our inter-parliamentary co-operation to learn from and adopt best practices.”

It was Karimi’s first visit to Uzbekistan in her capacity as OSCE PA Special Representative on Central Asia. She was joined by OSCE PA economic and environmental committee Rapporteur Gudrun Kugler (Austria) and Special Representative on Climate Change Pere Joan Pons (Spain), as well as Ainur Argynbekova and Dilorom Fayzieva, members of parliament from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, respectively.

130424 uzbekistan photo 2OSCE PA delegation visits the Aral Sea basin, 12 April 2024The visit was intended to support the engagement of delegations of Central Asia in the activities of the OSCE PA, to ensure that the OSE PA understands the issues important to Central Asia and learn from the region’s experience, and to facilitate co-operation to address shared challenges.

“The Aral Sea catastrophe is a consequence of Soviet mismanagement. This environmental crisis has huge impacts in Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries. It has harmful effects on people’s health and their livelihoods, with the fishing industry being destroyed,” Kugler said. “At the same time, there are many positive lessons to be learned from the efforts of the Central Asian republics in responding to the crisis through multilateral co-operation, in particular the work of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea.”

Pons shared his experience in the area of adopting climate change laws and noted the difficulties in meeting climate change targets and financing the green transition while keeping citizens on board. “It is important that the international community supports Uzbekistan in meeting its Paris agreement commitments,” Pons said. “I welcome Uzbekistan’s efforts to accelerate green energy initiatives and curb greenhouse gas emissions.”

Areas for further OSCE and OSCE PA support were also identified, including in the drafting of norms on water management and climate change. Uzbekistan’s new constitutional provision on the state’s obligation to protect environmental rights as well as the guarantee of the right to a healthy and livable environment, including the right to reliable information, were also discussed.

The visit to Uzbekistan was the last of a three-country tour that included extensive briefings in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Meetings were held with members of Uzbekistan’s parliament, the Oliy Majlis; representatives of the Ministry of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change and the Ministry of Water Resources; the International Institute of Central Asia; and the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan.

To read the press releases on the other two legs of the Central Asian visit, please click here and here.

Photos of the visit are available for public use on Flickr.

For more information on the work of the Special Representative on Central Asia, please click here.

For more information on the work of the Special Representative on Climate Change, please click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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