The following article was contributed by the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Seoul for publication by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.—Ed.
By Nozim Khasanov, Chief Research Fellow, MITA
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) attaches great importance to the issues of ecology and environmental protection, considering this direction as one of the key elements of sustainable development.
In the constituent documents adopted by the SCO - the Shanghai Declaration (2001) and the Charter (2002), one of the main goals of cooperation is interaction in the environmental sphere. Thus, in the Charter, the issues of rational nature management, including the management of water resources in the region and the implementation of specific joint environmental programs and projects, are included in the list of main areas of interaction.
The Treaty on Long-term Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation of the SCO Member States dated August 16, 2007 stipulates in a separate article that the parties develop cooperation in the field of environmental protection, environmental safety, environmental management, take the necessary measures to develop and implement special programs and projects in these areas.
It should be noted that the environmental themes, in direct connection with the issues of security and sustainable development of the SCO, began to be included in all the final documents of the Organization.
The Declaration adopted at the last SCO summit (2021, Dushanbe) notes the importance of cooperation in the field of environmental protection, environmental safety, prevention of the negative effects of climate change, conservation and use of biodiversity, as well as the exchange of experience and operational information.
At the present stage, the work of the SCO in the field of environmental protection is carried out within the framework of the Concept of cooperation in the field of environmental protection, which has become the first framework document aimed at practical cooperation in this area. Work on this document was initiated by the Uzbek side in 2005. The concept was adopted at the summit in Qingdao (PRC), and a year later the Action Plan for its implementation was approved.
The main goal of the Concept is the achievement of "comprehensive, joint and sustainable security by maintaining an ecological balance, ensuring a favorable environment and ecological development of the economy." In the process of achieving these goals, the parties agreed to cooperate in matters of information exchange, coordination of actions, raising the technical level of environmental monitoring, training, adaptation to climate change, conservation of biodiversity, as well as the exchange of best practices to promote the principles of a "green" economy.
Practical work is being carried out to advance the designated agenda. In particular, with the support of the Chinese government, the SCO Environmental Cooperation Center was established in 2014.
In 2019, a special Program for the Development of the Environmental Well-Being of SCO Cities was adopted, which is aimed at preventing environmental pollution, adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change, ensuring the environmental safety of megacities, waste management, etc.
Such working mechanisms as the Meeting of the Heads of the relevant departments, as well as the Expert Working Group on Environmental Protection, began to function on a permanent basis. Under the auspices of the SCO Interbank Association, a group of banks has been formed, whose funds are planned to be attracted to solve environmental problems.
In order to advance the environmental agenda, the SCO member countries initiate new activities. In particular, China is promoting the development of the Environmental Cooperation Agreement, the establishment of the Environmental Development Institute, the Information Exchange Platform and the SCO Environmental Innovation Base in Shanghai. Kazakhstan stands for the compilation of the Register of Environmental Problems of the Organization's Member States, the development of the SCO Ecosystem Digital Map, the Program for Phytoforestry Reclamation of the Dried Bottom of the Aral Sea and the Development of Specially Protected Natural Areas and Ecological Tourism. Tajikistan calls to support the creation of the International Glacier Protection Fund, Uzbekistan - the SCO Green Belt Program and a comprehensive solution to the environmental problems of the Aral region (under the UN General Assembly resolution), India - the creation of a working group on innovations and startups of the ecosystem.
The SCO member countries intend to establish an active dialogue with international institutions in order to implement joint projects and programs in the field of environmental protection and the introduction of environmentally friendly technologies, increasing the share of the "green" economy.
Given the importance of the transition of the Organization's states to a "green" economy, as well as their fulfillment of their obligations to achieve carbon neutrality under the Paris Agreement, the number of initiatives and projects will increase.
Of course, the agenda of the upcoming summit in Samarkand of the heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will include, among other things, issues of ecology and environmental protection.