BRUSSELS – More than 100 participants including representatives of EU institutions, government officials and national experts from Central Asia, EU Member States, international financial institutions, as well as international and regional partners and civil society representatives gathered at the 9th meeting of the EU–Central Asia Working Group on Environment and Climate Change (WGECC) on 12-13 February 2020. The parties had a constructive dialogue on circular economy, the European Green Deal, as well as other issues related to water, environment and climate change.
In May 2019, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy issued the Joint Communication on a New EU Strategy on Central Asia entitled “The EU and Central Asia: New opportunities for a stronger partnership”. Adopted by the Council of the European Union in June 2019, the Strategy defines three interconnected priorities on Resilience, Prosperity and Regional Cooperation and has specific objectives on “Enhancing Environmental, Climate and Water Resilience”.
The European Commission’s most recent communication “The European Green Deal” confirmed that circular economy remains a priority with the aim to stimulate the development of lead markets for climate neutral and circular products, in the EU and beyond. The WGECC builds on this renewed and strengthened framework to enrich the EU–CA policy dialogue to bring concrete results to the benefit of the environment.
Astrid Schomaker, Director for Global Sustainable Development at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment:
“The European Green Deal is a top priority for the EU in the next years. It puts a strong emphasis on supporting a fundamental transformation of our economies and societies towards modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050, EU’s natural capital is protected and enhanced and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use, thereby also protecting health and well-being of citizens and environment. This is Europe’s new growth strategy which aims at transforming environmental challenges into new opportunities. But Europe cannot do it on its own. We need to work closely with international partners. The EU recognises the growth potential of CA countries, understands their significantchallenges to put their economies into a more sustainable path and is willing to support countries to utilize this growth potential in a “green way” to increase environment, climate and water resilience.“
The Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea confirmed the commitment of Italy in supporting Central Asian countries on their path towards sustainable development, pointing out the importance of implementing concrete projects in the region. Central Asia is a crucial bridge between Europe and Asia and represents the ideal partner for EU Member States to advance together in the global fight against climate change.
This meeting is the first gathering after the 6th EU–CA High-Level Conference on Environment and Water Cooperation held in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) in January 2019. It was organised under the EU–Central Asia Platform for Environment and Water Cooperation that covers the following priority areas: environmental governance, circular economy, sustainable production and consumption, climate change, water resources management, and cross cutting issues. The parties exchanged updates on the progress since the High-Level Conference, including the recent and future policy developments in the EU and the CA region on environmental governance, solid waste management, and climate action, and adopted the new Terms of Reference for the WGECC and the Rules of Procedure for the WGECC Steering Committee.
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 for 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 Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, assists in the identification of regional cooperation priority actions and supports the Platform by strengthening policy dialogue and cooperation at the regional level and between the EU and CA.
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EU Delegation to Kazakhstan