International organisations and multilateral banks consolidate positions on sustainable development in Central Asia during an EDB roundtable discussion

17 November 2023

Almaty, 16 November 2023. The Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) hosted a roundtable entitled Promoting Sustainable Development in Central Asia, bringing together representatives from international organisations and multilateral development banks. Participants from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, FAO, UNIDO, UNEP, ESCAP, UNDP, the World Health Organisation, the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and CICA, among others, discussed irrigation and water challenges, the environmental and social standards of international financial institutions and case studies illustrating collaborations in project implementation.

The first session featured the presentation of the EDB’s latest report, Efficient Irrigation and Water Conservation in Central Asia.

In his opening remarks, Nikolai Podguzov, Chairman of the EDB Management Board, emphasised that water, food and energy are extremely interconnected in Central Asia, making the development of the region’s water and energy complex a strategic priority for the EDB. 

“There is a pressing water situation currently evolving. Over the next five years, it may worsen seriously and then Central Asia will face a severe water deficit. Countries need to collectively address this issue with support from multilateral development banks,” he stressed.

Tatiana Proskuryakova, Regional Director for Central Asia at the World Bank, highlighted that the region’s sustainable development stands as an important objective for international organisations and multilateral financial institutions. 

“This theme is key for us at the World Bank. Our investment portfolio in Central Asia approximates US $12 billion, with about a quarter of it allocated to the water, energy and environmental sectors. In the near future, the share of such projects will escalate to nearly half,” she underscored.

Tatiana Proskuryakova further emphasised the paramount importance of the discussion initiated at the EDB roundtable and expressed hope that it would pave the way for tangible cooperation among the participating institutions.

During the presentation of the Efficient Irrigation and Water Conservation in Central Asia study, Evgeny Vinokurov, EDB Chief Economist, outlined ten steps aimed at addressing the prevalent issues. These encompass establishing an International Water and Energy Consortium; fostering collaboration among multilateral banks; creating a regional cluster to produce irrigation equipment; consolidating efforts to strengthen cooperation with Afghanistan; using PPP instruments; instituting proper water accounting; gradually integrating investment charges into the tariff structure; improving land conditions; implementing digital technology; and leveraging state-of-the-art irrigation technology and laser levelling (the full text of the report is available here).

Dmitry Petrin, Senior Operations Officer at the World Bank’s Central Asia Regional Office, expressed his hope that governments and managers of water and energy enterprises would take into account the findings presented in the report.

“If we are talking about the World Bank, our priorities in the water sector closely align with those highlighted by the EDB,” he said.

These shared priorities include the establishment of regional mechanisms for the joint management of water infrastructure, digital transformation through automated water metering and management systems, private capital mobilisation, and the promotion of public-private partnership projects.

Yaozhou Zhou, Principal Water Resources Specialist at the Asian Development Bank, emphasised the institution’s readiness to collaborate for the benefit of the region and its population of over 60 million people.

Kuvatbek Bapaev, Senior Policy Advisor and FAO Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic, discussed the pilot of a technology designed to ensure equitable water distribution among agricultural producers in the country. This project is being financed with the participation of the Islamic Development Bank.

Michael Dethlefsen, Chief of the Division of Innovative Finance and International Financial Institutions at UNIDO, highlighted the need to coordinate technical assistance and subsequent project financing, while also stressing the organisation’s readiness to initiate partnerships in water management.

Aizhan Karabayeva, Project Coordinator at FAO Kazakhstan, concurred with the EDB’s approach, emphasising that the implementation of water metering technology would help to mitigate the water deficit. She expressed FAO’s willingness to share its expertise and collaborate on these endeavours.

Marat Narbayev, Head of the Water Resources Department at the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, announced the commencement of close cooperation with the EDB to address water availability issues in the region.

In alignment with these discussions, roundtable participants resolved to bolster interactions among all stakeholders with the aim of fostering sustainable development in Central Asia.

Additional Information:

The Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) is an international financial institution promoting integration and development in its member countries. For more than 17 years, the Bank has worked to strengthen and expand economic ties and foster comprehensive development in its member countries – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, and Tajikistan. The EDB's charter capital totals US $7 billion. Its portfolio consists principally of projects with an integration effect in transport infrastructure, digital systems, green energy, agriculture, manufacturing, and mechanical engineering. The Bank’s operations are guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and ESG principles.

The EDB Media Centre:

+7 (727) 244 40 44, ext. 6147


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