Co-initiated by Switzerland, the Blue Peace movement advocates for peaceful water management in various regions of the world. In Central Asia, the SDC has been working for more than two decades on integrated, transparent and needs-based water resources management in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and as such can benefit from a wide network of international and regional partners also active in the water sector. The current project and the significant momentum in cross-border cooperation in the region are expected to create real progress for the local populations and their prospects for a better life.
Blue Peace Central Asia Strengthening of the Regional Institutional Framework for Integrated Water Resources Management in Central Asia
In response to the explicit demand of the five Central Asian States, and building on over 20 years of cooperation in the field of water, SDC facilitates transboundary water resources cooperation consistent with the Blue Peace approach implemented in the Middle-East and at the global level through the establishment of a High Level Dialogue Platform, the promotion of sustainable water practices as well as capacity building of a new generation of water professionals and champions.
Climate change and environment
Water diplomacy and security
Water resources conservation
Water sector policy
- National State Institute SWISS
- Swiss Private Sector
- SDC Field Office
- Université Fribourg
The transboundary basins of Central Asia cover extensive area of the region and are home to about 60 million inhabitants. The water they share is fundamental to their population and the economy they depend on. Unsustainable water use, a lack of cooperation and competing national interests have led to a climate of mutual distrust and reoccurring tensions among the five countries in the region. The current centralized transboundary water cooperation framework proved to be inefficient, which calls for a dialogue to shift from national “administrative” approaches to transboundary “hydrographic” water management. The Central Asian countries increasingly acknowledge the cost of inefficient water management and its impact on the environment and their societies. Switzerland is considered as a key, credible and neutral actor providing concomitantly quality expertise and honest brokerage without hidden agenda.
The overall goal of the initiative is that Central Asia moves forward towards sustainable and equitable transboundary water management in a changing climate whereby the people in the region benefit from water security, peace, stability and sustainable development.
The primary target group are influential policy makers at the regional, national and local level as well as water professionals. The indirect target group comprises the population in Central Asia (68 million inhabitants).
Outcome 1: Regional institutions, national and local authorities implement more effective, sustainable and equitable water transboundary policies;
Outcome 2: In selected transboundary water basin relevant authorities are managing water more effectively in a sustainable and equitable way by adopting smart water practices;
Outcome 3: Empowered next generation of professionals and champions takes part and influences transboundary water management.
Expected results: An effective high-level dialogue is in place at the regional level, with insights and actions on regional transboundary issues formulated and implemented along the 3 priority themes identified previously; a cryospheric climate information base and services are improved and allow for climate resilient water and risk management; young talents are equipped and empowered through the building of a regional youth water network and access to capacity building opportunities.
Results from previous phases:
Through two Swiss-supported high-level events bringing together for the first time representatives from Foreign and Water Ministries and Parliaments (Basel I Conference in November 2014 and Astana Conference within the World Expo in June 2017) the countries’ response to the consultation on regional water cooperation has been stated. The five countries clearly expressed the need to exchange on commonly-identified regional priorities, notably on:
1) transparent sharing of hydrometeorology data and joint use of forecast modelling among riparian countries to prevent water-related disasters and adapt to climate change;
2) investment in and joint management of transboundary water infrastructure ;
3) adoption of water quality standards and monitoring, and water efficiency interventions.
|Directorate/federal office responsible||
International or foreign NGO
Swiss state institution
Swiss Academic and Research Institution
SECO, World Bank, UNECE, Political Division (ECACOD)
|Coordination with other projects and actors||
The project will closely coordinate its activities and leverage synergies with the Global Blue Peace initiative, SDC and SECO regional cooperation initiatives and their partners. Close coordination and cooperation will be maintained in particular with the Berlin Process for Cooperation in Central Asia as well the high-level political process around IFAS facilitated by the GIZ.
|Budget||Current phase Swiss budget CHF 6'000'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF 2'902'635|
A region of contrasts under increasing stress
The semi-arid region of Central Asia avails of substantial ground- and surface water resource. However, the access to water is uneven across the region, from the water-rich mountain ranges of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the desert steppes of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Moreover, the demand for water is increasing rapidly, due to steady demographic growth and expanding economies. Severe challenges relate to the pollution of surface water, and unsustainable and outdated agricultural systems and practices. Climate change acts as a “threat multiplier”: higher temperature, more frequent droughts and earlier snowmelt will have a major influence on future water availability per capita. Central Asia is increasingly water-stressed; adaptation to climate change is an urgent priority.
The five countries in Central Asia recognise this reality, and the governments have embarked on significant sector reforms and enhanced national water policies. In many cases, however, the water management between the Central Asian countries is still dictated primarily by national concerns, and based on competition. More is required at the bilateral and regional levels to account for the transboundary nature of the risks, challenges and opportunities related to water. The challenge is to set up an effective cross-border cooperation to manage transboundary water resources in an integrated and sustainable manner.
Enhancing regional water policy dialogue
After numerous political consultations, the countries concerned saw that it would be opportune to entrust Switzerland with an advisory role in regard to sustainable water resources management in the region. The SDC is translating this role into practice by laying the foundations for improved cooperation at both the political and scientific level.
In practical terms, it is working to make the exchange of information between the governments more systematic, and to expose the region to best regional and international practices in terms of transboundary water management. Among others, in order to produce high-quality scientific data, the SDC is supporting the efforts of a group of researchers from the University of Fribourg whose aim is to provide the latest in training to local glaciologists over the next few years.
Combating poverty and reducing disaster risks
Ultimately, it is the people living in the region who will see their lives improve – not just because they will be provided with drinking water or water to irrigate their fields, but also because security in the region will increase. When governments decide to cooperate, the risk of conflict diminishes. And as far as the climate is concerned, monitoring the process of glacier melt rigorously will make predicting natural disasters more reliable.