There is unexplored potential for the development of water, energy and food cooperation between China and the countries of Central Asia to mitigate climate change, said Professor Dechong Huang from Hohai University at Fourth CAREC Chai Event hosted by the CAREC Institute, in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Monday.
The Chai event was focusing on the results of the Scoping Study on Climate Change in the CAREC Region commissioned by the CAREC secretariat and major climate change challenges faced by the region, and the necessary policy actions.
Professor Huang presented several proposals for countries on collaboration under climate change; he said the first step could be development planning and strategies on the water-energy-food nexus in Central Asia and creating a joint platform for data exchange. For industrial development, he said, countries must stabilise the water, energy and food supply chains, as well as the production chain. He said in order to nurture talent, countries should conduct joint research on the water-energy-food nexus and develop professional skills and technologies and promote the application and transformation of scientific and technological achievements. Most importantly, he said, countries can jointly ensure investment in the water-energy-food nexus in Central Asia and share knowledge and policy practices.
The event commenced with a welcome note from ADB’s Director of the Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division Dr. Lyaziza Sabyrova. She also introduced the ADB consultant team who conducted the Scoping Study. She noted that this study was a crucial resource for understanding the current situation in the CAREC region from a climate perspective and the risks for the region, identifying opportunities, and developing the necessary strategies and actions to address climate change. The Scoping Study highlights the need to take immediate action to reduce the risks and maximize opportunities associated with climate change, she said.
CAREC Institute Director Mr. Kabir Jurazoda emphasised the urgent need for effective actions to address climate change issues in the Central Asian region, which has become a global hotspot for long-term climate trends. Speaking on behalf of the institute, he said that as a knowledge hub, the CAREC Institute regards climate change as one of its key areas of research and capacity building, helping countries develop and implement adaptation and mitigation strategies. In 2022, the institute held two climate change dialogues with national experts and representatives of international and regional organisations to increase interaction between major stakeholders and define potential ways to unlock comprehensive regional actions. The institute has already conducted research that highlighted the exposure of the CAREC economies to the impacts of climate change and helped understand the opportunities for climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as the potential for regional cooperation.
A scoping study led by Dr. Johannes Linn analysed the national climate commitments and strategies for each of the 11 CAREC countries, financing requirements and potentials, and the scope and existing institutional platforms for regional action. CAREC has a unique and urgent opportunity to set a course for proactive, systematic, and strategic engagement on climate change by developing a range of regional actions in response to the regional nature of many climate change impacts and solutions and supporting its member countries in reinforcing, modifying, and implementing existing strategies on climate change mitigation and adaptation. The consultants suggested incorporating climate change as an urgent crosscutting issue in the CAREC Strategy, adopt a CAREC Climate Change Strategy, and establish a senior-level Steering Committee for climate change to develop a road map for own climate change projects and targeted climate mitigation and adaptation components, and the participation in projects of others.
Dr. Iskandar Abdullaev, Deputy Director Two of the CAREC Institute, spoke about the water and climate problems in Central Asia and the prospects for regional cooperation based on the findings of the latest reports published by the CAREC Institute. He noted that Central Asian countries have experienced much higher rates of temperature rise compared to the global average over the past hundred years, leading to an increase in the frequency of adverse natural disasters of a wide range. The magnitude of future temperature increases and changes in precipitation patterns in the region is likely to exceed observed historical changes. Climate change in the region will cause significant changes in annual volume and seasonal patterns of rivers’ run-off. Dr. Abdullaev suggested focusing on addressing the economic issues of climate change by prioritizing investment strategies, providing financial tools and mechanisms, and developing necessary adaptation and mitigation mechanisms to reduce the environmental impacts and the vulnerability of the population, especially in rural areas. Countries need to improve water use efficiency, establish early warning systems for extreme climate events, implement no-till technologies and crop diversification, and improve crop management.
Vice-Rector of the Kyrgyz Turkish Manas University Dr. Kamalbek Karymshakov, and Dr. Dina Azhgaliyeva, Research Fellow at the ADBI, presented the results of a recent study on climate change and household energy consumption in the CAREC region. The study found that households whose incomes declined in the two years following COVID-19 consume more biomass in rural areas and electricity in cities instead of coal. The authors recommend promoting the development of natural gas and LPG infrastructure and reducing the consumption of solid fuels, while increasing the price of electricity should be carried out with caution due to the possibility of switching to coal consumption by households, especially from vulnerable groups.