Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan – More than 80 participants, including representatives of European Union (EU) institutions, government officials and national experts from Central Asia (CA), EU Member States, international financial institutions, as well as international and regional partners and civil society representatives gathered online for the 10th meeting of the EU–Central Asia Working Group on Environment and Climate Change (WGECC) on 4-5 October 2021.
The meeting was co-chaired by Mr Akhmetzhan Primkulov of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Luca Perez of the European Commission’s General Directorate for the Environment, and Mr Angiolo Martinelli of Italian Ministry for Ecological Transition (IMET). It is the first gathering after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly changed both economy and environment worldwide. Considering the current situation both in the EU and in CA, the discussion at the meeting addressed new opportunities for cooperation to ensure a green recovery and was built around the following four items: biological diversity, climate change, decoupling economic growth from the increase of pollution, and toolbox for sustainable recovery.
The delegates provided updates on the progress in EU–CA regional cooperation in the areas of environment and climate change since the 9th meeting of WGECC in Brussels in February 2020. The most recent developments in EU climate and environmental policies, particularly EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 the EU 2030 Climate Target Plan and European Climate Law, Zero Pollution Action Plan, and Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism were presented by the delegates from the EU.
Ms Astrid Schomaker, Director for Global Sustainable Development at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment stressed that fighting environmental and climate challenges and achieving the transition to green and circular economy and climate-neutral society requires significant investment, research and innovation, new ways of production and consumption, and major changes in the way we work, travel and live together. The EU is addressing these challenges through ambitious policies at home and close cooperation with international partners, and will continue to lead international negotiations ahead of the Convention on Biological Diversity COP 15 and the United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow (COP26). She confirmed that the European Commission was committed to long-term cooperation with our partners in Central Asia and would continue supporting them in their efforts to preserve the region’s precious environment and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Mr Oliviero Montanaro, Director General for Sustainable Growth and Quality of Development, IMET, expressed appreciation for the achievements of the Working Group, which evolved during the years with the continuous presence of the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, now Ministry for the Ecological Transition. Italy is promoting ambitious reforms to encourage green recovery through an ecological transition. IMET fosters ecological transition values in international processes, such as the G20 that Italy is presiding this year and the COP26, where Italy is in partnership with the UK. Mr Montanaro stressed the importance of Central Asian countries and the EU with its Member States to promote new consumption and production models and find diversified answers to common environmental problems. Finally, he praised the activities of the EU–CA Working Group for being a concrete example of how Central Asia and the EU can reflect together around common environmental, social and economic challenges under the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The participants also discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on biodiversity, which is crucial for the green recovery. The Analytical Review on the priorities for the biodiversity conservation in Central Asia, which is being prepared by the EU-funded project “European Union – Central Asia Water, Environment and Climate Change Cooperation” (WECOOP), was presented.
The 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 in water and environment, based on the EU Strategy on Central Asia agreed with the CA countries. The European Union – Central Asia Working Group on Environment and Climate Change (WGECC) chaired by the European Commission and the Italian Ministry for Ecological Transition (IMET), assists in the identification of regional cooperation priority actions and supports the Platform by strengthening policy dialogue and cooperation within the region as well as between the EU and CA.
For additional information, please contact Mrs Yelena Serebrennikova, Senior Communication Expert, WECOOP, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile/WhatsApp +77019814020, Ms Nurgul Smagulova, Event and Communication Officer, WECOOP, e-mail: email@example.com, mobile/WhatsApp: +77012066760, Elnura Abakanova, Communications Officer, EU Delegation to Kazakhstan, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meeting materials: https://wecoop.eu/events/10wgecc/.
Photo by Tatiana Menshikova.