The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) participated in the High Level International Conference on Water Cooperation, which was held from 21-22 August 2013 in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. During the Conference, Mr Tony Alonzi, Acting Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, welcomed water experts to a Special Focused Event on the use of scenario thinking to enhance water cooperation in the Aral Sea basin. The event directly supported the main purpose of the conference, which was to promote a dialogue and mutual understanding at all levels, and to build and further strengthen regional partnerships.
Scenario thinking has proven a highly useful tool for creating “common ground” in dialogue processes. Towards this end, FAO together with the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (EC-IFAS) and the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy (UNRCCA), has implemented a scenario project to analyze the highly complex structure of the water-agriculture-energy nexus in Central Asia. All Aral Sea basin riparians participated in the project, which aimed to improve insight in the problem situation and enlarge the solution space among parties. The first phase of the project was completed in December 2012, and resulted in a set of comprehensive scenario logics, which was developed in a highly participatory process and agreed upon by all Central Asian States and Afghanistan.
During the Special Focused Event, the experience and results of the first phase of the project were presented.
Some 35 delegates from various Central Asian states, international NGOs, UN agencies, development partners, and private sector participated in the event. The ensuing discussions focused on the effectiveness of the approach to ‘see the bigger picture’, and how thinking about the future in a multi-stakeholder process helps decision makers to re-think the policies and strategies with a cross-sectoral perspective. It also discussed how the scenario thinking approach can be a catalyst for policy dialogue, both at regional and national levels. There was a general agreement about the potential of the approach and the need to continue this process.
In recognition of the importance of the project, the Central Asian states and Afghanistan have requested FAO to prepare a new phase for enhancing regional cooperation on integrated use of water resources in the Aral Sea Basin through mainstreaming scenario thinking. This new phase be built upon three mutually supportive pillars of action: capacity development, policy dialogue, and communication of insights to high level decision makers. A detailed concept note has been prepared by FAO.
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For more information on the project contact Ms. Ines Beernaerts