Astana-2011 will become the place to share experiences, discuss the challenges and work on cooperative solutions. From governments and international organizations to businesses and NGOs, the “Environment for Europe” partners and stakeholders will work together under a common moto - “Save Water, Grow Green!”. The Declaration to be approved by the ministers of environment will become a pledge for action to bring the conference discussions and outcomes into reality.
The two reports produced for Astana Conference:
- Europe’s Environment – An Assessment of Assessments prepared under the leadership of the European Environment Agency (EEA) and
- Second Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters developed under the auspices of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) –
provide the decision and policy makes with food for thought, as well as stimulate further action by Governments, the international community, including donors, NGOs and other partners.
The Assessment of Assessments report shows that we need to further strengthen the link between policy and information. Based on the findings of the Assessment of Assessments report, it is expected that in Astana Ministers will decide to establish a regular process of environmental assessment and to develop the Shared Environmental Information System - a collaborative initiative of the European Commission, EEA and EEA member and cooperating countries - across the region.
Covering more than 140 transboundary rivers, 25 transboundary lakes and about 200 transboundary groundwaters, the Second Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters highlights the great diversity in the natural availability of water resources, pressures, status and responses in the different transboundary basins. Such differences and specificities also reflect the great economic and social differences within the region, which strongly influence both the pressures and status of the water resources as well as the capacity of countries to implement management responses. Characteristics and specificities of five UNECE subregions: Western and Central Europe; South-Eastern Europe; Eastern and Northern Europe; the Caucasus; and Central Asia are highlighted together with recommendations focusing on these subregions. The Astana Water Action – an initiative developed in the framework of the Water Convention – suggests policies and actions to progress towards sustainable management of water and water-related ecosystems and to ensure sustainable management of water and greening the economy. It invites countries and other stakeholders to commit in Astana to implementing some of the actions.
Whilst the Astana Ministerial Conference is expected to address environmental issues of common concern in the UNECE region, it provides an important opportunity to address priority environmental issues in the Central Asian sub-region. The sub-region has witnessed one of the greatest man-made disasters – the Aral Sea tragedy and therefore has a number of lessons to share with the rest of the region.
The Green Bridge – an initiative of host country Kazakhstan – aims to establish a wide international and cross-sectoral framework for regional and inter-regional cooperation and collaboration among countries of Asia, the Pacific and Europe, international organizations, NGOs and business on the way to a green economy. Developed into the “Green Bridge” Partnership Programme, it covers such key areas as strengthening national and international governance, informational infrastructure of partnership, awareness raising and education, promotion of green business and green technologies, financial and economic mechanisms, improving standards for a green economy and developments in the relevant sectors.
The Astana Conference is the first one prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Reform Plan of the “Environment for Europe” process adopted in 2009. Marking the 20th year anniversary of the “Environment for Europe” process, Astana-2011 is expected to pave the way for strengthened Pan-European cooperation on environment and sustainable development.
All Conference documents are available on the UNECE website at: http://www.unece.org/env/efe/Astana/documents.html