While Uzbekistan has improved its environmental performance in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to water and sanitation (SDG 6) and forests and tree cover loss (SDG targets 15.1, 15.2, 15.3), significant challenges remain related to air quality (SDG 11.6), water resources and wastewater treatment (SDG 6), and environmental health and biodiversity (SDG 15).
To help evaluate the effectiveness of measures taken to protect the environment as the basis for sustainable development, an introductory training seminar was held in Tashkent on 1 February 2023 to develop a methodology for the National Report on the State of the Environment in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Uzbekistan with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Specialists from Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Health presented the current situation and trends in the field of environmental protection.
The seminar helped to identify key drivers of pressure on specific components of the environment, as well as possible responses.
For instance, Uzbekistan, like most of Central Asia, is prone to natural hazards like earthquakes, mudslides, glacial lake outburst floods, flash floods, heat waves, droughts and dust storms. Many of these are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change, with significant environmental, health and social impacts – especially for women, children and older persons. The most vulnerable parts of Uzbekistan are in the densely populated east of the country (including Tashkent, Fergana valley). The economic impact of flooding alone in Uzbekistan due to climate change is estimated at USD 236 million, while GDP losses due to extreme weather events are estimated at 2-3 per cent. Accordingly, investing in disaster risk reduction and preventive measures is a key step towards a sustainable future, as it not only helps to reduce vulnerabilities and increase the resilience of communities but also to protect economic growth and development gains.
“The National State of the Environment report is an analytical document that contains an assessment of the environmental situation and an analysis of the cause-and-effect relationships that cause changes” said the UNECE Regional Adviser Sarangoo Radnaaragchaa. She highlighted that the methodology of the report will be based on the UNECE Guidelines for the preparation of governmental reports on the state and protection of the environment and that the UNECE Environmental Performance Review conducted in 2019 will serve as a valuable basis.
The report will help Uzbekistan to make environmentally sound decisions and to improve environmental and socio-economic policy, the legal framework, mechanisms for state regulation of nature management and environmental protection. It will also aid monitoring compliance with environmental legislation, developing and implementing targeted environmental programs and scientific and technical developments aimed at ensuring environmental safety.
“Biodiversity not only contributes to environmental protection, but also helps to ensure food security, nutrition and sustainable livelihoods for rural people. To eat healthy food, we need a healthy environment”, said FAO Deputy Representative in Uzbekistan Sherzod Umarov.
Representatives of the Slovak Agency for Environmental Protection and of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan shared experiences and practices of developing country National Reports.
“it is expected that the new National Report and future regular state-of-the-environment reporting will also provide information for both national development planning exercises and strategies, including the ones developed by Uzbekistan’s development partners and the UN system in Uzbekistan, such as through integration into the annual Common Country Assessments (CCAs) and United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks (UNSDCFs),” said Aidai Kurmanova, Head of UNEP Central Asia Office.