On November 23, 2011, the Tian Shan Policy Center (“TSPC”) hosted
a Conference and Roundtable Dialogue on
“Bringing the Climate Change Debate Down to Earth: Rethinking Water and Land Management Strategies to Protect Kyrgyz Communities and Livelihoods”
The purpose of the conference was to share insights into research undertaken by scholars and PH.D. candidates regarding issues in selected areas of environmental sustainability in Kyrgyzstan, particularly connected to climate change and challenges for Kyrgyzstan in climate adaptation. The Roundtable was convened to facilitate greater dialogue among scholars, NGOs, and official agencies working on land and water. We anticipate convening more such roundtables in an informal but constructive atmosphere, with a view to fostering policy-relevant dialogue in key spheres of our work.
The water and land resources, forests and biodiversity of Kyrgyzstan are suffering from the severe pressures of human activity and climatic events, such as floods, landslides, and overexploitation. This is threatening the livelihoods of farming and herding communities, and the preservation of Kyrgyz natural assets and traditions for future generations. Climate change predictions now suggest that weather-related changes could magnify problems for local communities in Kyrgyzstan and throughout Central Asia, with significant environmental and economic impacts. In a few weeks, the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Durban, South Africa. The COP17 represents a crucial moment for decision-makers, researchers, and civil society to come together, discuss and take action on climate change. The issue of how to help rural communities adapt to the predicted impacts of climate change will be high on the agenda of governments during the COP and long afterwards. As international climate adaptation funds are being made available to governments to begin developing climate adaptation programs, Kyrgyzstan has an opportunity to undertake activities that could significantly help local agricultural communities to better manage their land and water resources, and to improve their livelihoods in rural areas. Though both Kazakhstan and Tajikistan have received funding for such activities, Kyrgyzstan has yet to do so. Further coordination among national and local agencies, and participation by affected communities is warranted, as is capacity building and much deeper policy-relevant research in agricultural and environmental sustainability.
Opening and Welcome Statements were presented by:
“Key Issues for Kyrgyzstan in Climate, Land, and Water Management.”
Presentation of Research Findings were presented by:
“Land Degradation and Community Livelihoods in a Climate-Changed World: Lessons from the Field and the PALM Project.”
Following the presentations, participants gathered at a Roundtable to discuss strategies to improve the capacity of communities to manage land and water resources, and to better adapt to climate change.
The Roundtable was moderated by Martin J. Ossewaarde (MSc Econ, Rotterdam, NL), Assistant Professor of Sustainable Development, American University of Central Asia.