Water Diplomacy

The EU shares its experience on water quality management with Central Asia

28/06/2019 - 10:53
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NUR-SULTAN – More than 30 Kazakh national experts, representatives of ministries and industries learned from the European Union (EU) experience on water quality management. The three-day training was organised by the EU-funded project WECOOP in cooperation with International Green Technologies and Investments Centre (IGTIC) and aims to assist Kazakhstan in improving its water quality management capabilities.

The quality of water in the water bodies of Central Asia has been deteriorating for decades. According to the data collected in the framework of the project Water Quality in Central Asia, implemented by UNECE in cooperation with the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) and the Scientific Information Centre of the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination (SIC ICWC), the number of water bodies with deteriorating water quality increased by more than half over the past 5 years (http://www.cawater-info.net/water_quality_in_ca/kaz.htm). Out of the total number of surveyed drinking water supply sources on the territory of Kazakhstan, only 7 rivers were categorised as “corresponding to the norm”, 42 rivers are “moderately polluted”, and 24 rivers are “highly polluted”.

The EU member states are obliged and intensively implement measures to prevent pollution of water sources. The set of EU Directives (Water Framework Directive, Drinking Water Directive, Urban Waste Water Directive, Bathing Water Directive, and several others related to them) stipulate binding quality targets for drinking water and protecting human health from adverse effects of any contamination of water intended for human consumption, as well as protecting the environment from the adverse effects of urban waste water discharges and discharges from certain industrial sectors. The Directives have laid down the critical quality standards at the EU level. The following principles are enshrined in the Directives: planning, regulation (obligations of the Member States and the European Commission), monitoring, information and reporting. The Directives also require providing regular information to consumers and reporting to the European Commission.

Mr Jonannes Stenbaek Madsen, Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Kazakhstan: “Water quality is one of the priorities put on the national environmental agendas by Central Asian countries. We are happy to share the EU experience on water quality management, including on water sources used for drinking water supply, to help Kazakh experts and decision-makers to build their capacity for incorporating the best international practices in the framework of ongoing reforms in the water sector”.

Mrs Gaukhar Beiseyeva, IGTIC Deputy Head: “The issue of water resources and water quality in Kazakhstan is one of the most pressing and requires decisive action. This was repeatedly mentioned in the programme documents, such as the Concept for the transition of Kazakhstan to "green economy", the Address of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan − Elbasy, the Strategy "Kazakhstan-2050", etc. The preservation of water bodies and the improvement of water quality in Kazakhstan is one of the priorities of IGTIC activities, and we intend to continue to work on implementation of the international experience in this field. In this regard, holding such trainings under the EU auspices with the involvement of staff of relevant organisations of Kazakhstan will serve the common efforts to improve the water management system in the country”.

Since October 2018, more than 200 national experts, representatives of NGOs and local private companies have already participated in 10 capacity-building workshops in Almaty, Ashgabat, Bishkek, Dushanbe, Nur-Sultan and Tashkent and 1 study tour to Vienna, all organised by WECOOP with the financial support of the EU.

Background: The EU-CA Platform for Environment and Water Cooperation was established at the High Level (Ministerial) Conference in Rome (Italy) in 2009 as the framework for the EU-CA cooperation in water and environment based on the EU Strategy for Central Asia agreed with the CA states. The EU-CA Working Group on Environment and Climate Change (WGECC), chaired by the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, assists in the identification of regional cooperation priority actions and supports the Platform by strengthening policy dialogue and cooperation at the regional level and between the EU and CA. The second phase of WECOOP project (www.wecoop2.eu), launched by the EU in August 2016 to support the Platform and WGECC, aims at strengthening the dialogue between the Central Asia partners and at facilitating their cooperation with the EU on environment and climate change.

For additional information, please contact Ms Nurgul Smagulova, Event Coordinator, WECOOP, telephone: +77012066760, e-mail: nurgul.smagulova@stantec.com; Ms Elnara Bainazarova, Press & Information Officer, EU Delegation to Kazakhstan, email: elnara.bainazarova@eeas.europa.eu.

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