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Central Asia

SCP in Central Asia

Despite important strides in terms of overall standards of living in this sub-region - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan - a variety of socio-economic challenges remain.

 These include poorly diversified economies (with strong dependence on fossil fuels); high carbon and energy intensity of production processes; eroding natural capital; increasing water scarcity; as well as unemployment, poverty and social inequalities (particularly the urban-rural gap in income and access to basic services.

While the region saw a clear decrease in consumption of primary materials in the early 1990s, a steady growth in primary material consumption has been observed since. This has been fuelled largely by growth of extractive industries, the export of primary commodities, as well as increasing per capita and household purchasing power.

Nevertheless, unsustainable consumption patterns are largely restricted to a small middle class in urban areas, meaning that the sub-region holds potential for leapfrogging to sustainable patterns without the need to follow the intermediate path of unsustainable consumption that has been experienced by OECD countries. 

Strategies and Roadmaps

At the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20), Central Asian countries welcomed the green economy transition and expressed its importance for their long-term development.

A number of strategies and action plans related to sustainable development have since been put forward in Central Asia, but the extent to which environmental legislation has been developed at national level varies significantly from country to country. To date, there is no sub-regional strategy on SCP, although SCP features in several countries’ National Sustainable Development Strategies.

At the 8th Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference, in Batumi, Georgia, in June 2016, pan-European countries, including those from Central Asia, endorsed the “Strategic Framework for Greening the Economy in the Pan-European Region (GESF)” which underlines a shift towards sustainable consumption patterns as one of the key mechanisms for the transition to a green economy.

The Green Economy priorities selected by the countries include sustainable management of waste and water as well as energy efficiency for Kazakhstan; development of a regulatory framework to incentivise the private sector in Kyrgyzstan; and promotion of alternative energy sources and associated technologies in Uzbekistan. However, SCP still needs to be more explicitly recognised as a mechanism for operationalising the transition to a green economy in the sub-region.

Regional cooperation platforms on SCP

The devastation of the Aral Sea serves as a visual reminder of the consequences of collective unsustainable irrigation and water consumption practices across the Central Asian sub-region, and has led to the establishment several important initiatives.

The International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) has three bodies – the Executive Committee, the Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development of Central Asia (ICSD), and the Interstate Commission on Water Cooperation (ICWC). These three organs are the only formal structures that the five CA states have established to facilitate sub-regional cooperation and negotiations in the area of environmental policy. The ICSD is the main inter-governmental body coordinating sub-regional cooperation on sustainable development in the five Central Asian countries, and is an important partner for the conceptualization and implementation of sub-regional activities and thematic projects, including on SCP. In May 2016, the ICSD  acknowledged the importance of SCP for Central Asian states and requested that it be featured in the next revision of Central Asia’s Regional Environmental Action Plan. 

At the national level, several existing coordination mechanisms can facilitate multi-stakeholder exchange on SCP. These include (among others) the Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the transition to a "green economy", under the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Coordinating Committee for adaptation, rehabilitation and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals until 2030 in the Kyrgyz Republic and the National Council for Sustainable Development of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Past and Upcoming Events


  • EU-Central Asia meeting, Brussels, 15-16 December 2016 (SCP among a dozen other priorities to be discussed)
  • Next meeting of the ICSD, Almaty, 21-22 December 2016


  • First Central Asian Sub-regional Meeting of the 10YFP, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 23-24 November 2015.
  • Second Eastern European Regional Meeting of the 10YFp, Bucharest, Romania, 9-10 February 2016 (with participation of Central Asian government representatives). 
  • Meeting of the Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development (ICSD), Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 24-26 May 2016 (with dedicated session on SCP). 


To have a more complete look at the different activities happening around the region, check out the
Global database of SCP Initiatives

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