Promoting Sustainable Development in Central Asia: Key Highlights from the Eurasian Development Bank’s Roundtable

According to a press release issued by the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), on November 16th, 2023, Almaty, Kazakhstan, served as the venue for a critical roundtable hosted by the EDB, titled “Promoting Sustainable Development in Central Asia”. This gathering saw the participation of representatives from a wide range of international organizations and multilateral development banks. Attendees included the likes of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, FAO, UNIDO, UNEP, ESCAP, UNDP, the World Health Organisation, the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, and CICA. The agenda was packed with discussions revolving around irrigation, water challenges, environmental and social standards of international financial institutions, and case studies that showcased collaborations in project implementation12.

The EDB’s latest report, “Efficient Irrigation and Water Conservation in Central Asia”, was introduced during the roundtable’s first session. Nikolai Podguzov, Chairman of the EDB Management Board, underscored the essential interrelationship between water, food, and energy in Central Asia. He declared the development of the region’s water and energy resources as a strategic priority for the EDB. He also expressed concerns over an impending water deficit in Central Asia within the next five years, urging for collective action supported by multilateral development banks3.

Tatiana Proskuryakova, the Regional Director for Central Asia at the World Bank, also spoke at the event. She emphasized the importance of sustainable development in Central Asia to international organizations and multilateral financial institutions. She revealed that the World Bank has allocated approximately a quarter of its $12 billion investment portfolio in Central Asia to water, energy, and environmental sectors. This proportion is expected to rise to almost half in the near future4.

Following this, Evgeny Vinokurov, EDB Chief Economist, presented the study “Efficient Irrigation and Water Conservation in Central Asia”. He proposed a ten-step solution to address the prevalent issues. The steps include establishing an International Water and Energy Consortium; fostering collaboration among multilateral banks; creating a regional cluster to produce irrigation equipment; consolidating efforts to strengthen cooperation with Afghanistan; using PPP instruments; instituting proper water accounting; gradually integrating investment charges into the tariff structure; improving land conditions; implementing digital technology, and leveraging state-of-the-art irrigation technology and laser levelling.

Times of Central Asia

Times of Central Asia

 Stephen M. Bland is a journalist, author, editor, commentator and researcher specialising in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Prior to joining The Times of Central Asia, he has worked for NGOs, think tanks, as the Central Asia expert on a forthcoming documentary series, for the BBC, The Diplomat, EurasiaNet, and numerous other publications.
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Published in 2016, his book on Central Asia was the winner of the Golden Laureate of Eurasian Literature. He is currently putting the finishing touches to a book about the Caucasus.
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www.stephenmbland.com

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