An international seminar entitled “Impact of Glaciers Melting on National and Trans-boundary Water Systems in Central Asia” took place on 11-12 April 2013 in Almaty, Kazakhstan on the basis of the cooperation between United Nations Regional Center of Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), UNESCO Almaty office, The Executive Committee of International Fund for saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) and the World bank with the support of the Government of United States of America through the UNRCCA.
The seminar was attended by researchers and officials from the five Central Asian States: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, as well as Afghanistan. Representatives of international organizations and donor community also participated. The meeting was attended by about 60 participants.
The discussions were devoted to the issues related to impact of glacier melting on the water resources of Central Asia and further practical steps were reviewed in adaptation strategies at national and regional levels. The seminar was an example of an open and productive platform for discussing water challenges in view of global environmental changes. The importance of scientific knowledge and data sharing, in particular on glacier and snow monitoring, was highlighted. It is believed that the newly inaugurated Central Asian Regional Glaciological centre (Category II centre of UNESCO) will play a pivotal role in strengthening scientific capacities in the region.
Several sessions were organized during the event, such as:
- The state of glaciers and snow-ice resources of high mountains and prevailing trends;
- Impact of glaciers melting and reduction of snow-ice resources on water cycles and water formation;
- Impact of glaciers degradation on socio-economic processes and environmental changes in the region;
- Value added of the regional cooperation and its possible forms in the context of potential reduction of snow-ice resources in the region: international best practices in this field;
- The role of international institutions in facilitating the search for adequate solutions to reduce the risks and to ensure early warnings.
The main river system of Central Asia and the drainages of the Aral Sea are heavily dependent on snow and glacier melt in their mountain headwaters. These river systems sustain the lives and livelihoods of the people and the economic development in the region. However, the glaciers of Central Asia are experiencing a rapid decline in mass. Changes in glaciers in the Central Asian mountains will have significant effects on the large populations of the region.
Glaciology related issues are within the strategic programmatic objectives and sectoral programme priorities and themes. The event was organized in the framework of the International Year of Water Cooperation. It will serve as initial effort towards promoting a dialogue and cooperation on sustainable management of water resources between countries of Central Asian region.