Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the high-level officials and experts from Central Asia, the European Union and the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) discussed further cooperation and coordination of efforts on environment and climate change during the first online meeting of the Coordination Committee of the European Union – Central Asia Working Group on Environment and Climate Change (WGECC) organized by the EU-funded project “European Union – Central Asia Water, Environment and Climate Change Cooperation” (WECOOP).
The meeting was chaired by Mr Luca Perez of the European Commission and Mr Giovanni Brunelli of IMELS.
The EU reiterated its commitment to support Central Asian countries in moving to circular economy and promoting better environmental governance. With the recently adopted European Green Deal, climate action will become one of key priorities of EU cooperation with partner countries, including with Central Asian region. The meeting also focused on providing support for the capacity building of Central Asian national experts on air and water quality, waste management, sustainable energy development and best available techniques in line with the WECOOP 2020 work plan while taking into account the current global circumstances.
“In a particularly difficult moment for the world, we are contributing to building a better future”, affirmed Mr Giovanni Brunelli, co-chair of the WGECC. Environmental and climate issues proved to be even more urgent during the pandemic. It is vital to strengthen the cooperation between EU and Central Asia to promote a real paradigm shift towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns. IMELS highlighted the importance of protecting biodiversity and ecosystems, able to support adaptation to climate change and provide defence against health problems.
The parties exchanged updates on the progress since the 9th Meeting of the WGECC (February 2020, Brussels), including the recent and future policy developments in the EU and CA, discussed the implementation of the WGECC Work Programme, the WECOOP project’s work plan, as well as impacts of the current crisis.The Chairs also welcomed the new permanent representatives to the WGECC nominated by the national governments of Central Asian countries and expressed the belief that the permanent membership would give new impetus to step up cooperation in the field of environment and climate for the benefit of all countries.
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 priorities for the Platform were first agreed at the third EU–Central Asia High-Level Conference in Rome in 2009 and subsequently confirmed at the High-Level Conferences in Bishkek (2013), Milan (2015) and Tashkent (2019). The EU–CA Working Group on Environment and Climate Change (WGECC), chaired by the European Commission and the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS), 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.
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