American University of Central Asia - AUCA - Roundtable Findings and Recommendations

Roundtable Issues and Recommendations

Bringing the Climate Change Debate Down to Earth

On Wednesday 23 November 2011, the Tian Shan Policy Center (TSPC) organized its first scientific practical conference at AUCA. The main objective of the conference was to discuss land and water management issues, especially since they are affected by the changing climate. New strategies for water and land management are needed to protect Kyrgyz communities and livelihoods. Over 30 representatives of different government and international agencies as well as universities attended the conference. This summary was compiled by the conveners of the Conference and Roundtable, Rodger Dillon, Michelle Leighton, and Martin Ossewaarde.[i]

Summary of Issues and Recommendations
  • There is a need for the government agencies in Kyrgyzstan to develop goals that incorporate key environmental benchmarks and indicators to monitor the impacts of environmental laws, policies and practices on a consistent basis. Establishing such a framework would provide the government with tools to better assess current problems, identify critical needs for the future, and undertake reforms targeted at improving environmental and agricultural sustainability.
  • Improving collaboration among environmental agencies, NGOs, and universities would strengthen the impact of current projects and facilitate a more coordinated strategy among various sectors not working in tandem in the environment, development, and energy fields. 
  • The failure of international agencies and the government to reconcile information on successful pilot projects and respond to them and build on their lessons through future programmatic development tends to weaken the prospect for Kyrgyz sustainability and makes inefficient use of resources. International donors and KR officials should better analyze pilot programs and incorporate lessons learned into future programs.
  • Conflicts exist between national policies and the practical needs of local communities struggling to address land and water management issues. National policies, for example, should better support the efforts of pasture committees and collective land management to ensure fairer and more sustainable natural resource use. There should be a fuller assessment of such conflicts and remedies built into the law and more monitoring at the field level to identify needed reforms that promote sustainable land management. The assessment of economic impacts at the local level is needed as well as mechanisms to hold officials accountable for fair implementation of natural resources allocation and management policies.
  • The public media is underutilized by agencies, institutions, and other groups seeking to improve outreach and raise awareness on implementation of environment and development programs. Increased efforts to involve the media to spread ideas and inform the public is warranted.
  • Due to the changing politics and lack of priority focus on climate change issues, KR officials have not yet taken advantage of opportunities for significant funding from global climate fund sources that can be channeled to agricultural development and adaptation for local Kyrgyz communities. Neighboring Kazakhstan and Tajikistan obtained USD$100 million and $50 million respectively in such funding already.
  • Establishing more centralized planning and facilitation of climate related programs via an independent Climate Institute could be considered as a means to facilitate the concerted involvement of the scientific, academic, NGO, and the expert communities to assist KR agencies in their planning around climate issues. Successful models can be found in other countries.
  • There is also a tremendous need for additional education and training in KR to support the development of university programs that improve training on environment and sustainable development among future leaders in industry, and for environmental laboratories that can facilitate training at KR universities.  Many students must go abroad to receive training and many do not return, leaving a gap in scientific and engineering expertise needed to help Kyrgyzstan develop and prosper.
  • Education and training programs should assist agricultural communities in receiving training through extension programs, training centers, and pilot conservation programs.
  • Continued exploration of transboundary natural resource management is warranted since climate change impacts are likely to enhance tensions between neighboring countries in Central Asia competing for access to shrinking land and water resources.

[i] The summary was assisted by AUCA students who took notes during the Conference:  Aman, Alymkanov, Saikal Nogoibaevaand Maksat Sharabidinov.

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