The Foreign Ministry was able to welcome numerous experts from Central Asia. They were invited in cooperation with adelphi, the research group "Climate Change and Security" of Prof. Scheffran from the KlimaCampus and the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy (IFSH).
Water continues to be present in adequate amounts in Central Asia. As the experts explained, there are nonetheless occasional shortages, and these can be traced back to a range of factors that have to do with the historic paths of development of each of the individual Central Asian countries. The inefficient water management resulting from that development limits the relationships between the countries and fuels potential conflict on the local level.
In Central Asia, the quickly advancing melt among the Himalaya’s glaciers represents one of the most significant threats from climate change. This melt affects not only the supply of drinking water, but also the region’s agricultural production, which is often dependent on irrigation, and energy security, which is provided by power from hydroelectric plants.
There already exist a range of initiatives for regional cooperation on water use in order to tackle these challenges. As a fitting example, the forum highlighted the water initiative in Central Asia initiated by the Foreign Ministry itself, because of the sensible connection it creates between local activities and cooperation at the national and regional level. At the same time, the task of improving coordination between individual organizations and initiatives at the regional level remains, and the same goes for the exchange of information.
However, a one-sided concentration on the water sector is not possible over the long term: Energy security is closely weaved together with access to water and the effects of climate change will only intensify this relationship. Potentially, it may be necessary to focus more intensely on the nexus of water, energy and climate change. There remain important, often unused potentials for cooperation, particularly with respect to renewable energies and regional energy.
In further developing regional cooperation in Central Asia, not only should the five post-Soviet states be taken into account, but also their neighbors, who have great influence on the regional water supply. A quarter of the water resources flowing into the Amu Darya River, for example, originate in Afghanistan, so that incorporation of the latter lends itself to the greater project.
A geographic and thematic expansion of current initiatives should be carried out step by step, in order to prevent the current structures from being overwhelmed with too many new tasks. The forum discussion made clear how important it is that further developments in regional cooperation be born out by the governments of Central Asia. In addition, cooperation with private and civil-society actors should be further expanded to provide for the sustainable use of water resources and renewable energy sources.
The first dialogue forum on the Southern Mediterranean area has already taken place, and further forums on South Asia and Latin America are planned for 2011.