I am very
pleased to welcome you all to Dushanbe/files/includes/,.css our capital city/files/includes/,.css and to
the International Conference on Regional Cooperation in
Transboundary River Basins.
conference is the first major event in support of the declared
by the UN International Decade of Action/files/includes/,.css ‘Water for Life’/files/includes/,.css
2005-2015/files/includes/,.css which was initiated by Tajikistan following the
International Year of Freshwater and within its frame the
International Freshwater Forum in Dushanbe.
It is quite
logical that lately the world leaders and governments have often
focus on the issue of water/files/includes/,.css as this strategically important
resource is crucial for addressing the issues in three areas/files/includes/,.css
that are the pillars of sustainable development: environmental/files/includes/,.css
social and economic.
The major task
which the international community is facing today in the
field of water resources is the transfer of committed
obligations into concrete actions that need to be implemented on
the ground for the benefit of the people.
agreed upon at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in
Johannesburg and also the resolutions approved by the recent
session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development that are
directed to their timely and fully realization have formed a
specific water ‘road map’. Now the members of the
international community have clear and concrete time-bound
targets within which to implement the undertaken political
commitments on work out and implementation of integrated
water resources management and water efficiency plans. These
plans should incorporate strategies for integrated river
basin/files/includes/,.css watershed and groundwater management.
International Decade of Action ‘Water for Life’/files/includes/,.css 2005-2015
provides an excellent institutional infrastructure to
ensure real progress in implementing the water resources
agenda approved by the international community through
combined efforts of all the partners concerned/files/includes/,.css namely/files/includes/,.css
governments/files/includes/,.css UN agencies/files/includes/,.css international financial institutions/files/includes/,.css
My hope is
that the representatives of the governments/files/includes/,.css civil society/files/includes/,.css
experts and researchers that gathered at this Conference will
help us all to find coordinated approaches towards the solution
of problems related/files/includes/,.css in particular/files/includes/,.css to transboundary water
Brief History of Regional Cooperation in Transboundary River
immemorial/files/includes/,.css human beings have preferred to settle along rivers
and lakes that provided them the water essential for food and
life. There are many transboundary water facilities that
cross the political boundaries of two or more countries. These
are vast territories equal to one-third of the earth’s surface
and where approximately 2.5 billion people/files/includes/,.css or 40 per cent of
the world’s population/files/includes/,.css live. They totally accumulate about 60
per cent of global freshwater resources.
show a long history of regional cooperation of states along
international rivers. The earliest recorded treaty of this kind
was an agreement on shared water between two city-states of
Mesopotamia/files/includes/,.css Umma and Lagash/files/includes/,.css in 3500 BC. According to the Food
and Agriculture Organization/files/includes/,.css more than 3/files/includes/,.css600 treaties related
to international water resources have been concluded since 805
appropriate to say that since then a lot of water had run under
the bridges. The modern world has witnessed a large number of
treaties on shared water management. These treaties emerged
because they were vitally urgent. According to the available
statistics/files/includes/,.css during the last 50 years 150 treaties of cooperation
have been signed in the water field.
these agreements because they make international relations over
water more stable and predictable. It is worthy to note that
since the international community realized the need to employ
patterns of sustainable development/files/includes/,.css dictated by nature itself/files/includes/,.css
the subject and scope of such agreements have substantially
broadened/files/includes/,.css and the focus has gradually shifted away
from navigation towards the management/files/includes/,.css use/files/includes/,.css and conservation of
It is my
sincere hope that the participants to this conference can have a
substantial discussion on all the aspects related to the above
problem/files/includes/,.css while having in mind the most important thing - how we
can by collective efforts ensure management/files/includes/,.css use and
conservation of transboundary waters in the most effective and
mutually beneficial way.
In order to
develop coordinated approaches we could focus our discussions on
the following urgent issues.
Cooperation for Peace and Security
At the global
scale/files/includes/,.css the effective and mutually beneficial solution of the
water resources-related problems underlies peace/files/includes/,.css security and
stability of our nations. Fortunately/files/includes/,.css upon objective index/files/includes/,.css our
planet has actually sufficient water recourses to provide
‘water security’ for all. But this can become a reality only
if we/files/includes/,.css according to the currently new requirements will
change the conceptual approaches to manage water resources.
history/files/includes/,.css nations have learned how to share the benefits of the
river. The key issue here has always been and remains to be the
development of rules of conduct to handle disputes peacefully.
It is known/files/includes/,.css that legal agreements on water sharing
have been concluded and strictly observed even among bitter
enemies and maintained even as conflicts have persisted over
other issues. There a few examples that can prove this statement.
Thailand and Vietnam/files/includes/,.css supported by the United Nations/files/includes/,.css have been
able to cooperate since 1957 within the framework of the Mekong
River Commission. Vietnam War did not hinder them regularly to
have technical exchanges. Since 1955 Israel and Jordan/files/includes/,.css with
United States involvement/files/includes/,.css have held regular talks on sharing
the Jordan River/files/includes/,.css even when they were de-jure in a legal
state of war. The Hind River Commission/files/includes/,.css established with World
Bank support/files/includes/,.css survived two wars and continuing unrest between
India and Pakistan.
for the Nile River Basin/files/includes/,.css home to 160 million people and shared
among 10 countries/files/includes/,.css was agreed in 1999 in order to fight poverty
and spur economic development in the region by promoting
equitable use of/files/includes/,.css and benefits from/files/includes/,.css common water resources.
This initiative/files/includes/,.css supported by the World Bank and the USAID/files/includes/,.css is a
transitional arrangement until a permanent framework is put in
At the same
time it is necessary to remember that the last 50 years have
seen only 37 acute water disputes involving violence.
Though some analysts focus exclusively on negative scenarios/files/includes/,.css
predicting that in future conflicts over water will persist/files/includes/,.css
however many countries by their actions refute this thesis and
successfully negotiate on the water resources issues. By doing
so they vividly demonstrate that the efficient response to the
challenges in this area can contribute to uprooting the sources
of conflicts and can also be a powerful catalyst for
international cooperation for the benefit of the people of all
the nations involved.
Cooperation and Sustainable Development
At the same
time/files/includes/,.css one can not hide oneself from the reality and ignore the
fact that the world might face a serious water crisis.
Not only has the use of renewable water resources increased
six-fold in the last century/files/includes/,.css but also the availability of clean
water has declined due to waste and pollution. In urban areas
all over the world/files/includes/,.css water is lost through leakage and illegal
connections. Efficiency levels of water use in agriculture of
the Central Asia region are around 50%. Industries and
agriculture and degrade surface with toxic pollutants/files/includes/,.css and as a
result degrade entire ecosystems/files/includes/,.css including the water ones.
basic human needs/files/includes/,.css water contributes to sustainable development
in other important ways. It is a major source of energy/files/includes/,.css and is
necessary for agriculture and for many industrial processes.
Moreover/files/includes/,.css rivers are often an integral part of transport systems
and water-related ecosystems provide flood control to storm
protection and water purification.
Thus/files/includes/,.css as the
key to sustainable development/files/includes/,.css water has value from a social/files/includes/,.css
economic and environmental perspective and needs
to be managed within a sound/files/includes/,.css integrated socio-economic
“Upstream and downstream “water stakeholders” will
have to be involved in the management decisions.
Cooperation and Poverty Alleviation
countries water is crucial for economic development and poverty
alleviation. And yet at the end of 2002 over one billion people
lacked access to safe drinking water/files/includes/,.css while over 2.6 billion
lacked access to basic sanitation services. The internationally
agreed Millennium Development Goals in water and
sanitation pledge to halve the number of people without
access to safe drinking water and sanitation by the year
estimated that the additional investment required to meet the
goals for basic water supply and sanitation in the countries
with low access rates is $20-30 billion a year/files/includes/,.css twice what is
now being spent in those developing countries. Reaching these
goals is achievable and would cost far less than the health care
required to treat people suffering from preventable diseases
related to poor water and sanitation.
I believe to
attain the interrelated goals on poverty reduction/files/includes/,.css education/files/includes/,.css
water and sanitation/files/includes/,.css and women’s equality/files/includes/,.css would be greatly
facilitated by cooperation at the river basin level.
Cooperation on Environment
freshwater supplies and degraded water supply infrastructure caused by rapid population growth and poorly managed
development already cause serious tensions among major water
users – farmers/files/includes/,.css industry and urban consumers – within many
countries. Conservation and stewardship of water resources have
become more critical to our survival in recent years.
essential to fully realize the obvious truth: one can not use
all the river water before it flows to the sea. Using the
entire flow of a river causes land degradation and cuts off
nutrients to the sea/files/includes/,.css resulting in the decline of fish
populations. More care should be taken about coastal zones that
are among the most productive ecosystems on earth and depend
vitally on the inflow of freshwater in the estuaries/files/includes/,.css deltas and
that crosses national borders takes on an even more strategic
importance. It is important to establish efficient
interaction among nations to avoid the pollution of
international waters caused by the economic and other types
In our Central
Asia region/files/includes/,.css agricultural production cannot be sustained in an
effective and stable manner without addressing the issues of
water resources quality and quantity. Protection of the quality
and supply of freshwater resources is a common priority for all
countries in Central and South Asia. The Aral Sea offers a
distressing example of what can happen when every riparian takes
as much water as it can. Terrible development of lands at Aral
Sea basin caused not only a catastrophic swallowing of ones
live-giving sea/files/includes/,.css but the tragedy of thousands of people/files/includes/,.css who
lost their future.
In my capacity
of the President of the International Fund Save Aral I would
like once more to call upon international community to provide
to the Central Asian states the effective assistance in
mitigating the consequences of this global ecological
catastrophe and in realization of Programme of concrete actions
to enhance the ecological and socio-economic situation in Aral
basin designed till 2010. We hope that the special session on
Aral issues within the framework of coming in 2006 World Fourth
Water Forum in Mexico will be the turning point in the sad
history of Aral/files/includes/,.css which unfortunately/files/includes/,.css is full of declarations
on assistance/files/includes/,.css but not actions directed to its save.
that one of the practical steps in this direction can be the
implementation of the pilot project in the Aral Sea basin by
international community/files/includes/,.css the project that could meet the
criterias of the Millennium Development Goals.
overall strategy of water resources management it is impossible
to maintain the integrity of a balanced ecosystem. We all have a
shared responsibility for protecting the environment
surrounding shared river and lake basins and watersheds. We
need to conserve the water/files/includes/,.css the flora and the fauna/files/includes/,.css and protect
these resources as a shared concern.
Cooperation on Freshwater
governance is at the heart of sustainable water use management.
Each responsible government should provide a solid regulatory
framework and implementation structure to manage the use of its
water resources. Regional cooperation could be very
instrumental in dealing with these issues.
of all those concerned should continue within a framework of
integrated water resources management/files/includes/,.css involving discussions on
economic/files/includes/,.css environmental/files/includes/,.css technical and social policies and
related measures. To reach solutions acceptable to all/files/includes/,.css we all
need to work together – governments/files/includes/,.css the United Nations agencies/files/includes/,.css
regional organizations/files/includes/,.css civil society and other interested
discussions at the conference we need to consider the most
effective utilization and protection of the whole extent of a
river and its water resources. This includes the productivity
and value of water in all its uses/files/includes/,.css including ecosystem
on international watercourses
is crucial to reaching all the above objectives. Upstream
nations/files/includes/,.css such as Tajikistan/files/includes/,.css have an important role to play in
ensuring that their neighbors are full partners in the use and
conservation of our precious resources/files/includes/,.css especially during times
As it is known more then 80% of water resources of Central Asia are
generated in out countries. One can hear on several occasions
that water is the wealth gifted to the human by God. One can not
but agrees to this. However/files/includes/,.css it does not mean that that the
gift has no value and accordingly not valued. Oil/files/includes/,.css gas/files/includes/,.css diamond
and gold as all the other earths’ treasures are also gifted by
God. There was a time when the humanity could live without them/files/includes/,.css
but not without water. And this is not to be forgotten.
international rivers and lakes is a very politically sensitive
issue. But we should view it not as a source of conflict/files/includes/,.css but as
an opportunity/files/includes/,.css a catalyst for cooperation.
Agreement on international waters can be a means
to stimulate peace and development in Central Asia. The United
Nations/files/includes/,.css as a ‘trusted broker’ can assist us in establishing
riparian partnerships/files/includes/,.css starting at the technical level and
moving to the political level.
Our opinion is
that both the substance and the form of agreements need to be
more concrete. In particular/files/includes/,.css they need to set out
scientifically substantiated criteria for water allocations and
water quality management; equitable distribution of benefits;
concrete mechanisms to enforce treaty provisions; and detailed
conflict resolution mechanisms in case disputes erupt.
Sustainable management and use of international watercourse
may also require some compensation mechanisms/files/includes/,.css such as
payments for transfer of water rights.
meet the commitments made at World Summit on sustainable
development and to follow up agreements made at other
conferences and sessions of the UN Commission on Sustainable
Development will be needed. The regional commissions/files/includes/,.css
development banks/files/includes/,.css river basin organizations and other
partnerships can make their contributions to this cooperation.
Such a new
promising international mechanism as the UN Secretary-General’s
Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation supported by the
interagency UN “water group” is well suited to provide broad
policy guidance/files/includes/,.css particularly as part of the programs for the
International Decade of Action ‘Water for Life’”.
I wish to thank the United Nations Organisation and other
international organizations/files/includes/,.css governments of partner-countries
for their generous support to have made this event possible.
forward to working together with all of you to examine the
potential cooperative solutions/files/includes/,.css which will allow us to make the
best use of our shared water resources to improve the lives of
everyone during the decade launched in March 2005/files/includes/,.css which was
proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as the International
Decade of Action ‘Water for Life’/files/includes/,.css 2005-2015.
Thank you for
attention and best wishes for your work and pleasant impression
of your stay in sunny and hospitable Tajik land.