Transboundary Basins // Reconciling Resource Uses in Transboundary Basins: Assessment of the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus in the Syr Darya River Basin
By UNECE. The Syr Darya Basin, shared by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, represents a classic example for exploring the interlinked and often competing inter-sectoral and cross-border claims to common resources. Such claims often create sources of real or likely tensions, but also, at the same time, opportunities for optimizing the shared use of water, energy and food resources in the basin and – in a wider context – the whole of Central Asia.
Centralized Soviet planning, which was predicated on the interests of the entire union – and not specifically the interests of Central Asia or its constituent countries – prioritised agricultural production, and in particular the strategic growing of cotton on newly irrigated lands. At the same time, Central Asia as a whole contained sufficient fossil fuel resources to cater for the energy needs of the republics. With independence came new challenges, and fuel and energy quickly became commodities less willingly traded for water. The changed use of upstream hydropower had consequences for water access of irrigated agriculture, the importance of which grew even further as regional trade slumped and the countries had to rely more on their own production.
The specifics of understanding and exploiting synergies in the “water-food-energy-ecosystems” nexus in the Syr Darya Basin of Central Asia are the essence of this report, which is a result of a participatory assessment process following a methodology developed under the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention). The assessment’s main objectives were to foster transboundary cooperation by joint identification of inter-sectoral synergies and measures to reduce tensions; and assisting countries in their resource use optimization with an improved knowledge base and capacity. The assessment process for the Syr Darya Basin, which included a workshop for the identification of the main inter-sectoral issues and possible solutions, was detailed by a subsequent analysis that was followed by consultations with the various sectoral authorities concerned.
UN Economic and Social Council Economic Commission for Europe
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