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EU Water Initiative

Regional coordination and support for the European Union – Central Asia enhanced regional cooperation on Environment and Water: WECOOP

Background

The Central Asia region is characterised by varied geography, including high mountains, vast deserts and steppes. Water is an extremely valuable resource in Central Asia. The majority of the territory has an arid or semi-arid climate and suffers from water scarcity. Competition for limited water resources has been highlighted as a major regional issue. The two main river basins are the Syr Darya and Amu Darya located on the territory of all five countries. They have great importance for the social and economic situation in the region.

The five countries are highly interdependent regarding their water and energy resources and their environment, which are closely linked to both geography and the infrastructure system put in place by the former Soviet Union. Significant global freshwater reserves are concentrated in the mountain ecosystems of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (upstream countries), while downstream countries (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) have rich hydrocarbon and mineral resources.

Climate change, population growth, industrialisation, urbanisation and deforestation are creating a huge burden on the water resources of the region, with potentially devastating consequences, in particular for the more vulnerable parts of the population. Addressing these challenges requires improved governance, more effective institutions, increased awareness and enhanced capacities to ensure long-term sustainable management between competing demands for human consumption, irrigation, industrial use and electricity production.

The EU-CA regional political dialogue broadly recognizes that environmental integration is key to good governance in tackling environmental and resource challenges. It is also widely agreed that rational water management is a vital environmental challenge for the region and that there is a need to strengthen cooperation between the EU and CA in taking steps to put environmental integration into practice.

The EU response to the challenges of this sector is currently being implemented through a series of interlinked cooperation programs under the common roof of the EU Regional Environmental Program for Central Asia (EURECA), which comprises 4 components the main environmental challenges in the region including (i) the sustainable use and management of natural resources, (ii) integrated water resource management, (iii) environmental awareness raising and (iv) support to the development of the EU – CA Water and Environmental Platform aimed at facilitating enhanced regional cooperation both between the EU and Central Asia and within Central Asia.

Development Objective 


The project’s objective is to promote and support enhanced regional co-operation to protect environmental and water resources both between the EU and Central Asia and within Central Asia as called for by the EU-CA Strategy.

Its purpose  is to support the development, effectiveness and awareness of the Environment and Water Cooperation Platform as a means to facilitate enhanced regional cooperation both between the EU and Central Asia and within Central Asia. Its activities will include support to regular high-level meetings and joint expert working groups or other ad-hoc events, and to strengthen regional institutions responsible for environment and water issues. 
One of the main priorities of the project is to ensure continuity and coordination of actions, and to further advance efforts that have already been initiated in beneficiary countries and created by previous projects and other initiatives.

Project Components

Component 1:

Establishment of the European Union-Central Asia (EU-CA) Water and Environment Cooperation Platform (WECOOP)

Component 2:

Strengthening of the Institutional and Development Capacities of the Regional Institutions involved in environment and water.

Component 3:

Communication, Mapping and Networking.

Contracting Authority 


The Contracting Authority is the European Commission

Budget: 
Euro 1,340,000

Project Start: 
January 2012

Project Duration:
30 months

BENEFICIARIES
 The beneficiary countries are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Uzbekistan is included as an observer country