Uzbekistan to hold international conference on Aral Sea
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Sept. 9
By Demir Azizov- Trend:
International conference "Development of cooperation in the region of the Aral Sea on mitigation of environmental catastrophe" will be held in late October in Urgench (the administrative center of the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan).
The Conference will be held in accordance with the order of the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov on mobilization of resources and efforts of the international community in the implementation of projects on improvement of the environmental and socio-economic situation in the Aral Sea region.
The plenary session is scheduled to discuss regional projects, the reports submitted by the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and the heads of delegations of international organizations and donors.
The results of the conference will make it possible to form a new vision and understanding of the problems of the Aral Sea, as well as to develop specific proposals in order to improve the environmental situation.
As previously reported, the last 50 years the total river flow into the Aral Sea, which is the fourth largest lake in the world, fell by almost 4.5 times, a total water surface of the sea decreased by 8 times and the amount of water weight decreased by more than 13 times. Salinity level increased by more than 13 - 25 times and exceeds the average salinity of the world ocean by 7 - 11 times.
Today, a sand-salt desert area of 5.5 million hectares has been formed in the place of the sea, gradually taking over the Aral Sea region. Over 75 million metric tons of dust and toxic salts rises into the atmosphere from the desiccating sea annually. Contamination of water and a large amount of salt and dust loss from the bottom of the sea led to various diseases among the population. More than half of the gene pool of flora and fauna has died out in the region. Some 11 species of fish, 12 species of mammals, 26 species of birds and 11 species of plants had nearly disappeared.
The International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) was created in January 1993 by Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In 1993, at the 48th session of the UN General Assembly, the President of Uzbekistan focused the world's attention on the problems of the Aral Sea. In 1995, at the 50th session of the UN, the representatives of states affected by the Aral disaster called to assist in the rescue of the sea and the Aral Sea region. President Karimov has launched an initiative to establish a Council on the problems of the Aral Sea under the auspices of the UN.
During the period 1995-2012's the total international donor assistance to the Aral Sea region reached over $1.1 billion. Two programs on assistance to countries of the Aral Sea have been implemented at the expense of the Central Asian countries. The total contribution of the member countries of IFAS in projects for 2003-2010 amounted to more than $2 billion.
Tashkent held an international conference "Problems of the Aral Sea and their impact on the gene pool of population, flora and fauna and international cooperation on mitigation of their consequences" with the support of the United Nations in 2008.
The action plan drawn up within the framework of the conference, made the basis of the third program on assistance to countries of the Aral Sea for 2011-2015. The Executive Committee of IFAS, the UN, World Bank, ADB, the European Union and the governments of a number of donor countries took part in its development. It was planned to allocate more than $8.5 billion for the implementation of over 300 projects included in the program.