Mainstreaming mountains in development policy


The Central Asia Regional Consultation Meeting was held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on 20 September 2016 to discuss “Evidence-based decision making: policy and practice interaction on integration of mountain concerns into development processes. Central Asia regional experience sharing”. The day-long policy dialogue showcased good practices and experiences from the regional countries on integrating mountain concerns into development processes. The event was co-organized by the Mountain Partnership Central Asia Hub and Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI), units of the University of Central Asia (UCA), jointly with the Tajik Government’s State Committee on Environmental Protection and the Dushanbe-based NGO "CAMP Kuhiston". Over 50 participants attended the regional level consultation, including: representatives of government institutions, including the Ministry of Economics, Ministry of Agriculture, National Statistical Committee and local authorities; the Academy of Science and its institutes for soil studies and geography; development partners and representatives of mountain communities from the Altai Republic, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan.

In her opening remark on behalf of the Government of Tajikistan, Oihon Sharipova, Deputy Chair of the State Committee on Environmental Protection under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, highlighted the fragility of mountain ecosystems and the need for regional cooperation and joint measures for advancing the interests of mountain communities in Central Asia. Elbegzaya Batjargal, Programme Officer from the Mountain Partnership Central Asia Hub hosted by UCA, followed by noting linkages to the international mountain-related development agendas, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, and the importance for Central Asian countries to be a part of the international process.

The Altai Republic’s experiences were presented by Svetlana Buidysheva, First Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Tourism in the Altai Republic, Russian Federation. She discussed their joint work with the Moscow State University’s Geography Department and the Foundation for Sustainable Development of Altai (FSDA) on assessing mountain specificities and formulating specific indicators. Next, two UCA researchers presented their findings. Christian Hergarten, Senior Research Scientist, provided practical applications of the GIS-based decision support system for tracing the interactions between poverty and pasture use at the village level, and Azamat Azarov presented the simulation findings on economic impacts of Kyrgyzstan’s joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Customs Union for Farmers. All of the experiences shared during the consultation meeting aimed to demonstrate a variety of tools, instruments, methods and approaches for supporting the decision-making process for the formulation of a legislative and regulatory framework, national development strategies and budgetary submissions at national levels.

The regional experience has been highly relevant and of greater interest for Tajikistan, who is in the process of adopting the Law on Mountain Territories. This event was part of an on-going multi-level consultation process supported by the Mountain Partnership Central Asia Hub for public discussion of the draft bill on mountain territories. The bill is the latest legislative initiative by the Government of Tajikistan, whose representatives shared the information at the event. A dialogue followed with active discussion, input and feedback by the mountain communities. Representatives of “territorial self-governing bodies under the Alliance of Central Asian Mountain Villages (AGOCA)”, or local community governance institutions set up by the AGOCA active in three regional countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan), were invited to the discussion.

One of the major development partners, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) shared their experience of working on regional projects for the sustainable use of natural resources using an ecosystem-based adaptation approach. Their projects can be replicated for managing climate risks in the high mountains of Central Asia.

To provide further information on the subjects discussed, the Manual or the Guidebook, published by the Government of the Altai Republic on their methodologies, was handed out as a reference for decision makers and practitioners. The event participants agreed that these regional level consultation meetings should take place more frequently.

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Photo: Mountain Partnership Central Asia Hub/Alma Karsymbek

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