By Batyr Ballyyev, GEF Operational Focal Point of Turkmenistan
Preserving the country’s abundant natural resources and using them carefully and rationally are among the key elements of Turkmenistan’s public policy. Comprehensive, far‑reaching, and long-term national conservation programs currently under way in the country are aimed at ensuring harmonious interaction with the environment and the creation of a green economy.
Our country has acceded to a whole range of United Nations conventions to protect the environment - which serve as a global guarantee of environmental conservation and the prevention of environmental disasters - including: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biodiversity, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, and the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision‑making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matter.
Turkmenistan is committed to fulfilling all international and national obligations aimed at addressing a broad range of environmental problems. Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov notes: “The concept of environmental diplomacy should be firmly rooted in our foreign policy strategy. In the international space, in various forums, in bilateral and multilateral relations we should express steadfast support for the initiatives put forward at the high-level United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).” All our large-scale national reform programs contain an environmental component as an essential condition for ensuring the people’s well-being, in all aspects of life. In using natural resources, our government takes into consideration both Turkmenistan’s interests and those of other countries.
Turkmenistan’s active cooperation with the GEF began in 1997. To date, dozens of national, regional, and global projects have been, and are being carried out, with Turkmenistan’s participation. The total value of national projects implemented with GEF support is more than $18 million: when participation in regional programs is included, this figure reaches around $60 million.
In 2006 the GEF approved funding for an ambitious project “Conservation and Sustainable Use of Globally Significant Biological Diversity in the Khazar Nature Reserve on the Caspian Coast” – the first large-scale national project that took into consideration the basic needs for better management, greater technical potential, and an improved information base for the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The project ensured the development and introduction of innovative approaches to protecting biodiversity, improved the legal framework for its preservation, and increased the potential of specialists in the managing conservation areas.
The significant results achieved by the GEF biodiversity conservation projects include developing national reports, strategies, and action plans to preserve Turkmenistan’s biodiversity; improving the system for managing specially protected natural areas; and designing an information-sharing mechanism.
The GEF has financed projects involving preparation of the First, Second, and Third National Communications to support fulfilling Turkmenistan’s commitments under the UNFCCC. Measures aimed at boosting technical and institutional capacity, improving energy efficiency in housing construction, and developing renewable energy sources were also implemented.
With GEF assistance, a National Action Program to Combat Desertification was developed and implemented to help Turkmenistan meet its commitments under the UNCCD. The country was an active participant in the GEF regional program “the Central Asian Countries Initiative for Land Management” (CACILM), under which its National Programming Framework for Sustainable Land Management was developed.
Turkmenistan also received significant support from the GEF for fulfilling its commitments under the United Nations Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol. A report on the use of ozone-depleting substances in the country was prepared for the first time, along with the National Program for the Withdrawal of Ozone-Depleting Substances from Circulation, and a package of documents on amendments to the Montreal Protocol, which were subsequently adopted by the Parliament of Turkmenistan.
Cooperation between Turkmenistan and the GEF was discussed in detail during the National Dialogue on the GEF, held September 14-15, 2007, in Ashgabat, which served as a forum for national multilateral participants involved in GEF activities in the country.
Under GEF-6, Turkmenistan was allocated more than $10 million for further implementation of projects on biodiversity, climate change, and land degradation. This will be used to continue the work begun under the regional project for the sustainable use of land resources (Phase 2 of CACILM), and will also be earmarked for the sustainable cities of Turkmenistan project, which addresses issues related to mitigating climate change, including developing and using renewable energy sources and sustainable transportation.
Turkmenistan supports the decisions of the global Summit on Sustainable Development, and is taking a very responsible approach to developing international cooperation on climate change. It recently put forward specific initiatives aimed at stepping up regional and global cooperation on the issue and is drafting an action plan for mitigating climate change.
The country is seeking to expand its cooperation with the GEF and playing an active part in effectively implementing global measures aimed at protecting the environment and improving its health, preventing a worsening of environmental conditions, and ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources. These are priorities of Turkmenistan's environmental policies.