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Policy Brief: Improving sustainable development in the Syr Darya River Basin through a transboundary nexus approach

This policy brief synthesizes the main findings and recommendations from the assessment of the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus in the Syr Darya River Basin, shared by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The methodology employed was developed specifically for assessing the nexus in transboundary basins with multi-disciplinary expertise.

The assessment aimed to foster transboundary cooperation by identifying intersectoral synergies and determining measures that could alleviate tensions related to the multiple needs of the riparian countries for common resources. The process looked to generate relevant information to support decision-making, and it engaged diverse expertise and key actors in the basins. The participatory assessment process for the Syr Darya involved an intersectoral workshop  for identification of the main intersectoral issues and possible solutions, detailed by a subsequent analysis, and followed by consultations of the various sectoral authorities concerned.

This nexus assessment summary describes the characteristics of the water, food and land, energy and ecosystem services, and their governance. The assessment shows multiple linkages in the Syr Darya Basin between the different basin resources, and concludes that strengthening transboundary cooperation on the integrated management of these resources will bring real benefits. Graphics illustrate the interlinkages identified. Climate change and socioeconomic drivers, and their effects on intersectoral dynamics, are also considered. Finally, a broad range of beneficial response actions are outlined. Solutions proposed span institutions, information, instruments, infrastructure as well as international coordination and cooperation.

Adoption of the nexus approach has a potential to improve resource use efficiency and security in the riparian countries. In contrast to national approaches presently employed, cooperation involving all the countries and sectors has a great potential to optimize the use of resources in the basin.

Nevertheless, applying certain solutions at the country level – including, among others, improvement of efficiency in water and energy use, as well as well-targeted economic and policy instruments – can gradually build more favourable conditions for transboundary cooperation. A functioning transboundary and inter-sectoral cooperation is a prerequisite for the efficient management of existing infrastructure and optimization of new investments and trade.

The full assessment report is available here.