Acting Head of Water and Ecology Studies
International Institute of Central Asia
The leadership of Uzbekistan in the last 6-7 years has chosen a firm course on green development, betting on the introduction of renewable energy sources, on smart technologies aimed at respect for nature, the rational use of water resources.
The country is developing various target strategies, taking into account the near future and aimed at achieving environmental security and sustainable development.
One of the program documents in this direction is “The Strategy for the transition of the republic to a “green” economy for the period 2019-2030”. Practical steps are stipulated in the Presidential Resolution “On measures to accelerate the introduction of renewable energy sources and energy-saving technologies in 2023”.
On the way of gradual transition to low-carbon economy, already this year Uzbekistan plans to launch renewable energy sources (RES) with a total capacity of more than 2000 MW, and next year 8000 MW. Moreover, by 2030 it is planned to bring the generation of renewable energy up to 15 GWt and increase the share of renewable energy sources up to 30% of total electricity production in the country.
Systematic work on introduction of modern technologies of careful use of water is consistently carried out. In recent years, the area covered by water-saving technologies in the country has reached 1 million hectares, which is about 25% of irrigated land. Due to this, only in 2022, 3 billion cubic meters of water was saved. This year it is planned to introduce water-saving technologies on an area of 500 thousand hectares. In particular, drip irrigation will cover 260 thousand hectares, the method of sprinkling will be implemented on 25 thousand hectares, the technology of discrete irrigation – on 15 thousand hectares. Highly effective method of water saving – laser leveling will be used on another 200 thousand hectares.
Relevance of solving water saving issues seems to be especially timely against unfavorable forecasts of scientists on possible reduction of flow of main water arteries of the region – Amudarya river by 15% and Syrdarya river by 5% by 2050.
The Water Sector Development Concept of Uzbekistan for 2020-2030 sets a goal to implement water-saving technologies on at least 50% of 4.3 million hectares of irrigated land.
The special attention to water sector, on which, first of all, food security depends, is evidenced by the Decree of the President of Uzbekistan “On Urgent Measures for Improving Water Resources Use Efficiency” adopted on April 1 of this year.
All of the above documents are aimed at achieving environmental security and sustainable development of the country.
On this way Uzbekistan consistently and firmly fulfills the obligations undertaken in the framework of international conventions in the field of environmental protection, among which the most significant are: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1993), the Paris Agreement (2018), The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (1992), the Convention on Biological Diversity (1995).
The work on implementation of obligations within the framework of the Paris Agreement is systematically continued. It is noteworthy that Uzbekistan has increased its quantitative obligations under this international climate change document and intends to reduce specific greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP by 35 percent by 2030 from the 2010 level, instead of the previously envisaged 10 percent.
Taking into account these commitments, measures are being taken to plant trees and shrubs and improve the environmental situation in the Aral Sea basin.
Noteworthy is the Presidential decree of the Republic of Uzbekistan of May 31, 2023 “About Measures for Transformation of the Sphere of Ecology and Environmental Protection and the Organization of Activities of Authorized State Body”
This document envisages the creation of protective forest plantations – “green belt”, “green garden”, “green public park” and “green cover”, as well as planting tree seedlings along main highways and major railroads based on natural conditions.
At the same time, large-scale measures to develop forestry and forest nursery, creation of irrigation systems and installation of water wells are envisaged.
For practical implementation of the tasks set, the Investment Program of Targeted Greening of Uzbekistan will be approved on an annual basis.
The successful implementation of the nationwide project “Yashil Makon” (Green Land), launched in November 2021 on the initiative of the head of state, provides clear results. During the spring period of 2023 alone, 10 million ornamental, fruit trees and shrubs were planted.
Under this ambitious project it is planned to plant 1 billion trees and shrubs by 2026 in order to mitigate the effects of man-made load and greenhouse effect in the hot climate of the country.
One of the most vulnerable areas of Uzbekistan in terms of ecological imbalance remains the Aral Sea area. The issue of landscaping and reforestation of the dried Aral Sea bed is the most urgent on the agenda of the “green” development of the republic.
In recent years saxaul and other desert plants have been planted on the dried bed of the Aral Sea on an area of 1.7 million hectares, and the area of green plantations has increased by two million hectares. Work in this direction will continue in the coming years. In particular, in 2023-2026 it is planned to create a green cover on the area of 400 thousand hectares.
This is certainly a significant contribution to solving the consequences of an environmental disaster that goes far beyond the regional scale.
Meanwhile, in addition to the great efforts being made to preserve the ecological balance at the national level, international support is still important. Uzbekistan attaches great importance to effective interaction with international and donor organizations in combating the effects of climate change and achieving ecological balance. For the purpose of practical cooperation and exchange of experience, our country actively cooperates with such organizations as the UN and its subdivisions, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and others.
Projects implemented with the support of international partners include climate change mitigation, environmental protection, energy efficiency, introduction of renewable energy sources and sustainable management of natural and water resources. They not only make it possible to obtain the necessary financial and expert support, but also to exchange best practices and technologies in order to achieve ecological balance and sustainable development.
Cooperation in the field of climate and ecology, large-scale efforts on “green” development at the national level pursue the most important goal of Uzbekistan at the present stage – to achieve environmental security and sustainable development.