December 2nd, 2023, Dubai, UAE – Amidst the momentum of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP-28, the global focus intensifies on the imperative of sustainable development, with a particular emphasis on the Aral Sea Region.
Echoing this urgency, the President of Uzbekistan underscored at the COP-28 plenary session, “Climate change stands as the paramount challenge hindering sustainable development. In Central Asia and neighboring regions, the Aral Sea tragedy epitomizes one of the most destructive environmental crises of our time”.
Taking center stage in addressing this crisis is the Aral Sea Trust Fund (UN Multi-Partner Human Security Trust Fund for the Aral Sea Region in Uzbekistan). Illuminating the region’s pivotal climate efforts, the Fund orchestrates a significant presence through the COP-28 side event titled, “Showcasing the Aral Sea Restoration Activities for a Climate-Resilient Future.” This collaborative initiative involves the Aral Sea Trust Fund, the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office, and the Ministry of Ecology, Environmental Protection, and Climate Change. The event aims to underscore the urgency of collective action in confronting environmental catastrophes, emphasizing the role of such initiatives in fostering resilient development.
Consuelo Vidal-Bruce, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Uzbekistan, inaugurated the event with impactful online remarks. Stressing the importance of unified efforts in tackling transboundary environmental challenges, she declared, "This is not just a side event; it stands as a testament to the potency of collective action in the face of environmental adversities."
Over the course of five-years, the Aral Sea Trust Fund has championed transformative initiatives, positively impacting nearly 280,000 individuals from vulnerable communities affected by the Aral Sea disaster. Employing a coordinated approach and platform, the Fund has brought together UN agencies, governments, communities, civil society, and non-governmental organizations to collectively address the multifaceted challenges in the Aral Sea Region.
Consuelo Vidal-Bruce highlighted the Fund's commitment to the human dimension amidst environmental adversity, stating, "The sea is gone, but people are not." This sentiment was echoed by the Government of Uzbekistan, emphasizing that addressing the Aral Sea catastrophe is a top priority, with significant efforts being exerted in collaboration with the international community.
The COP-28 side event led by the Aral Sea Trust Fund immerses participants in transformative experiences. Combining visual storytelling through a compelling photo and video exhibition with interactive discussions featuring insights from local community representatives, government officials, contributing partners, and UN representatives, the event informs global climate leaders, advocates, and stakeholders about the devastating impacts of the Aral Sea's desiccation. It also showcases successful interventions and outlines a visionary roadmap for a climate-resilient future in the Aral Sea Region.
The presentation of the future of the Aral Sea Trust Fund focusing on climate-resilience development transcends mere crisis response; it symbolizes the triumph of collective action, transforming lives and instilling hope amidst adversity. The Fund extends an invitation to global leaders, advocates, and stakeholders to stand in solidarity, recognizing that while the sea might have receded, the commitment to securing a resilient future for affected communities remains unwavering.
Originally published on aral.mptf.uz