This week, President Braga attended two major events in Uzbekistan. Firstly, the Central Asian International Environmental Forum on “Strengthening the Cooperation in the field of Environmental and Sustainable Development in Central Asia” which was organised by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia. During this Forum, President Braga presented a Welcome Speech which reflected the importance of cooperation as a linchpin to sustainable development.
In view of inspiring and mobilising the international community present, President Braga stated, “We will only be able to make the most of our time and energy spent here if we are ready to find common solutions, jointly identify trade-offs and create new routes.”
Secondly, President Braga attended the International Conference on “Joint actions to mitigate the consequences of the Aral catastrophe: new approaches, innovative solutions, investments.” Organised by the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Ministry of Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan, this event aimed to tackle one of the largest ecological disasters of our times: the progressive disappearance of the Aral Sea.
Previously one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68,000 km2 (26,300 sq mi), the Aral Sea is now barely recognisable from space as illustrated by the satellite photos published by the NASA Earth Observatory in August 2017 .
During his welcome speech, President Braga underlined the extent to which the Aral Sea disaster proved that domesticating nature is impossible. Working with nature is hence the way forward, or in the words of President Braga: “Nature-based solutions, ecological and sustainable development plans and integrated water resource management are some methods readily available to tame this phenomenon.” He highlighted the urgent need for cooperation and dialogue in the region as well as internationally. President Braga also identified the three main building blocks for curbing the drastic decline: political will, diplomacy and democratic dialogue, and innovative approaches and robust investments.
In a concerted effort to achieve water security, development and sustainability, while avoiding ecological catastrophes - such as that of Aral Sea -, the World Water Council (WWC) has undertaken several key and innovative projects. One example includes the policy-oriented and practice-based book, Global Water Security: Lessons Learnt and Long-Term Implications, published with the support of the Government of the People’s Republic of China The book aims to improve and encourage the understanding of the importance of water resources as an essential cross-cutting vector of socio-economic development.
Aral Sea and Central Asia: The need for innovative approaches and strengthened cooperation.
The World Water Council and its Honorary President, Loïc Fauchon, welcome the agreement signed by the French Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) last month. The agreement designates the municipality of Marseille, a founding member of the World Water Council, as the host of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2020. The global gathering will take place the same year the Paris Agreement comes into effect, placing France and Marseille at the heart of the planet’s efforts to promote sustainable development and promote the conservation of our precious resources.
“With this agreement, faith in the city of Marseille and the department of Bouches-du-Rhône’s ability to host world class events has been consolidated, underlining their commitment to environmental conservation. Marseille, home to the World Water Council, demonstrated its hosting capabilities during 2012’s 6th World Water Forum. Eight years on, Marseille is set to welcome over 15,000 guests from more than 160 countries who will attend the World Conservation Congress at Parc Chanot. This is an excellent opportunity for those dedicated to preserving the environment, including companies, NGOs, universities and so many others, to gain visibility,” explains Mr. Fauchon.
The city of Marseille has harboured the World Water Council since its inception in 1996, after winning a public tender to which any global city could present themselves. Since then, the city and its mayor, Jean-Claude Gaudin, have continued to renew support for the Council. "Marseille became France’s first city to voluntarily adopt a strategy coherent with local marine and land biodiversity in compliance with national and international strategies,” explains Mr. Gaudin.
Equally, IUCN is also one of the Council’s founding members, and has been a significant partner since the Council began its work raising awareness on the importance of water security and the need for it to top international political agendas. As such, the World Water Council welcomes the Congress as it will bring together people from around the world to promote a better tomorrow. This year’s water-related theme, “Nature-based solutions”, speaks to the importance of transversal efforts and global cooperation needed to deal with a reality exacerbated by climate change, disasters and population growth.
Held every four years, the IUCN Congress is the world’s largest conservation event. It brings together leaders from government, civil society, indigenous peoples’ organizations, business and academia to determine the world’s most pressing environmental and development challenges, and actions to address them. The nine-day conference will include the Nature World Forum with 5,000-7,000 participants and the General Assembly of IUCN gathering 1,200-1,800 participants.