Central Asia Particularly Vulnerable to Climate Risks, Primarily Due to Water Scarcity, Says EDB

By 2050, the available resources in the Syr Darya and Amu Darya basins – the region’s two largest sources of water – situated in southern Kazakhstan and along Uzbekistan’s southern border with Turkmenistan – could decrease by 10% to 15%. Water shortages inevitably impact the region’s agricultural sector, which relies on water as a critical factor in food production, the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) has stated in a news release.

The reduction in wheat yields in seven oblasts of Kazakhstan could result in direct economic losses exceeding U$1.2 billion by 2030. These concerns were highlighted by Conrad Albrecht, Managing Director and Head of the Directorate of Sustainability at the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) during the recent Seventh North and Central Asia Multistakeholder Forum on the Implementation of the SDGs in Almaty.

“Kazakhstan, being the only Eurasian nation to have implemented a carbon pricing system, faces the additional challenge of a potential carbon tax amounting to U$250 million. Most economies in the region rely heavily on carbon-intensive industries, necessitating a transition towards more sustainable production methods”, Albrecht said. He also pointed out that the region’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions significantly exceed its contribution to the global economy in terms of both GDP and population. However, countries such as Armenia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have a share of global CO2 emissions lower than their share of the world’s population, indicating that the region’s economies are critically carbon intensive.

“All countries in the Eurasian region are taking climate change extremely seriously, acknowledge their direct contribution to the global agenda and are ready to make ambitious commitments to decarbonization”, Albrecht stressed. “Nevertheless, Central Asian countries still require substantial support from multilateral development banks, and while climate finance to the region is increasing, it remains significantly smaller compared to other low- and middle-income countries”.