Rome, Italy – More than 100 delegates gathered in Rome on 23-24 February 2023 for the 7th European Union – Central Asia High-Level Conference on Environment and Water Cooperation (Conference). Ministers, deputy ministers, high-level diplomats of the countries of Central Asia (CA), the European Union (EU), the EU Member States, representatives of international financial institutions, international and regional organizations, and civil society involved in development, management and implementation of environment, climate change and water policies, attended the Conference.
The event was organized under the auspices of the EU–Central Asia Platform for Environment and Water Cooperation (Platform) and was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy.
The participants discussed strategic and pragmatic issues related to water, environment, climate change and sustainable growth in the CA region, while highlighting the challenges and opportunities for the CA region to accelerate the green transition and facilitate green investments. Participants underlined the importance of the water-energy interrelation for Central Asia and the need to develop renewable energy sources. The parties also reviewed the results of the Platform’s activities since the previous High-Level Conference held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (2019), discussed the Platform’s priorities for 2023-2025 and agreed on practical steps for enhancing policy dialogue and capacity development in the field of environment, climate change and water in CA.
The Conference provided an opportunity for the EU to reiterate its strong commitment to the CA region in tackling climate change and restoring the environment, including, inter alia, through the Global Gateway Team Europe Initiative on water, energy and climate change in Central Asia. The parties expressed their wish to step up the EU–CA cooperation, as well as CA intraregional cooperation in this area.
Ms Terhi Hakala, EU Special Representative for Central Asia noted: “In line with the European Green Deal and the EU Strategy on Central Asia, the EU works together with Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to support them in their climate action and green transition. Our cooperation has significantly expanded, but we need to do more together to protect the environment and turn climate challenges into green growth opportunities. In November 2022, the EU launched the Global Gateway Team Europe Initiative on Water, Energy and Climate Change in Central Asia. This flagship initiative, which brings together Member States and European financial Institutions, aims to support regional cooperation and governance for sustainable development as well as to increase investment in a regionally integrated blue and green transition. ”
Ms Astrid Schomaker, Director Green Diplomacy and Multilateralism, DG Environment, European Commission , said: “ I am pleased to note that the work of the Central Asia Platform for Environment and Water has become a lynchpin of the joint EU-Central Asia effort to tackle environmental, biodiversity, water and climate challenges. Central Asia is one of the regions that is most affected by these challenges and it is therefore more important than ever that we work together as partners towards building networks, trust and cooperation for the green transition which will benefit us all ‒ Central Asia and the European union. We are committed to work with you as partners and allies in tackling these most defining challenges of our times .”
Ms Vannia Gava, MP, Deputy Minister for the Environment and Energy Security, Italy , said: “The 2023 Rome High-Level Conference was only the last milestone in the long-term commitment that the Italian Ministry of Environment and Energy Security assumed back in 2009 in the framework of the EU‒Central Asia Platform for Environment and Water Cooperation. Since then, we have developed, together with the European Commission and Central Asian States, a solid and mutually trusted relationship. At this Conference, Italy renewed its commitment to supporting the implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia: our Ministry presented some innovative perspectives on opportunities for the Paris Agreement’s cooperative approaches and the 3DEN initiative with International Energy Agency, supported by Italy, on innovative approaches for power systems’ modernization to fight climate change and increase energy efficiency.”.
The participants agreed to work together to implement the Paris Agreement and make substantial efforts towards achieving climate neutrality, to continue high-level dialogue and cooperation to tackle the severe challenges and growing threats to the environment posed by climate change and biodiversity loss, to encourage and support regional, transboundary and international cooperation on integrated water resources management.
The next EU–CA High-Level Conference will take place in Kazakhstan in 2026.
Background: The EU–Central Asia Platform for Environment and Water Cooperation was established at the EU–CA High Level Conference in Rome (Italy) in 2009. The Platform is a framework for the implementation of the EU–CA Cooperation on Water and Environment in line with the EU Strategy on Central Asia agreed with the CA countries. It covers the following priority areas: environmental governance, circular economy, sustainable production and consumption, climate change, water resources management, and cross-cutting issues The priorities for the Platform were first agreed at the third EU–Central Asia High-Level Conference in Rome in 2009 and subsequently confirmed at the High-Level Conferences in Bishkek (2013), Milan (2015) and Tashkent (2019).