The conference brought together more than 80 participants, including delegates from governments (Ministry of Economy and Finance of Turkmenistan (SDGs Coordinator), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Ministry of Agriculture and Nature Protection of Turkmenistan, State Committee for Water Management of Turkmenistan and its subdivision “Turkmensuvylimtaslama”), academia, intergovernmental organizations (EC IFAS, SIC ICWC, SIC ICSD), NGOs (Agrarian Party of Turkmenistan, Society for the Protection of Nature of Turkmenistan, Analytical agency “Inanch-Vepa”, Environmental Public Organization "Yashyl Shokhle") and international organizations (UNDP, UNRCCA Preventive Diplomacy Academy, GWP CACENA, Association “Women of Central Asia and Afghanistan and Water Resources”, GIZ, CAREC).
The main goal was to discuss various mechanisms for developing regional cooperation on water resources management, and also to increase people's awareness of urgent water problems.
Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Mr. Akmuradov opened the conference. He spoke about the importance of cooperation on solving water problems particularly their rational use. In the welcoming speech he noted: "We are convinced that only by joint actions of all states, taking into account their interests, it is possible to solve the problem of water resources".
Experts from countries of Central Asia and Caucasus shared their experience and knowledge on implementing projects and programmes concerning various aspects of water resources management, SDGs, environmental issues to find opportunities for cooperation in these areas.
On the first day in the morning session the following presentations were done:
- “Rational use of water resources is one of the most important directions of the state policy of Turkmenistan in the Era of Power and Happiness” by A. Yylkybaev, State Committee for Water Resources of Turkmenistan;
- “Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Turkmenistan” by A. Ishantaev, Ministry of Finance and Economics of Turkmenistan;
- “ASBM - a mechanism for regional cooperation in Central Asia” by representative of EC IFAS;
- Regional program “Transboundary Water Management in Central Asia” by F. Schrader, GIZ;
- “Restoration of the Small Aral Sea” by B. Bekniyaz, Executive Directorate of IFAS in the Republic of Kazakhstan;
- “CAREC activity and SDGs” by I. Bagirova, CAREC in Turkmenistan;
- “Priority areas of cooperation within the framework of the Regional Environmental Program for the sustainable development of Central Asia” by B. Mammedov, ICSD secretariat;
- “Development, practice of use and problems of water-saving technologies in irrigation of agricultural crops” by O. Eshdjanov, SIC ICWC;
- “The effective role of the Turkmen lake “Golden Age” in ensuring environmental well-being in the Aral Sea region” by G.Kurtovezov, Institute "Turkmenuvulymtaslama";
- “Implementation of the National Forest Program of Turkmenistan and reforestation in the Turkmen Aral Sea region” by M. Durikov, Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan;
- “International aspects of cooperation in the field of conservation of biological diversity and development of specially protected areas” by J. Saparmuradov, Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan;
- “Pilot projects on rational use of water resources in Turkmenistan” by Ch. Taganov, UNDP.
The evening session was dedicated to the Global Water Partnership. This session was started with the presentation on theme "The mechanisms of international cooperation and the role of GWP in strengthening the expert community in countries. GWP's new Strategy 2020-2025 was launched by Francois Brikke, GWP Senior Network Specialist, Stockholm.
After that representatives of the Country Water Partnerships from 9 countries of Central Asia, Caucasus and Mongolia informed the conference participants about their activity on implementation of water resource management programs:
- “Water Management System in the Republic of Kazakhstan” by A.I. Tleulesova, Water Partnership of Kazakhstan;
- “Contribution of the Water Partnership of Kazakhstan to SDG 6.5.1 implementation in Kazakhstan” by K.K. Yakhiyaeva, Water Partnership of Kazakhstan;
- “Water resources, problems of land reclamation and irrigation in the Republic of Tajikistan” by A.Kurbonzoda, Agency for Land Reclamation and Irrigation under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan;
- “Contribution of the National Water Partnership of Tajikistan to rational use of water resources” by Ya.E. Pulatov, Water Partnership of Tajikistan;
- “Role and opportunities of the National Water Partnership of Kyrgyzstan in the implementation of IWRM principles in the country” by K.Musabaeva, Water Partnership of Kyrgyzstan;
- “Activities of the network of Aarhus Centers in Kyrgyzstan: lessons learned” by A.Nurbekov, Aarhus Center in Bishkek;
- “Innovative methods for the protection of water resources” by L. Margaryan, Regional Council of GWP CACENA;
- “SDG projects in Armenia” by A. Hovsepyan, Water Partnership of Armenia;
- “Water resources of Azerbaijan, problems and prospects of their use” by T. Osmanov, Regional Council of GWP CACENA;
- “Role and Opportunities of the National Water Partnership of Azerbaijan in the implementation of SDGs” by G. Gadzhimetov, Regional Council of GWP CACENA;
- “Level of IWRM implementation in Georgia by SDG 6.5.1 indicator. Role of the National Water Partnership in achieving SDGs in Georgia” by G. Dzamukashvili, National Water Partnership of Georgia;
- “Role and opportunities of the National Water Partnership of Uzbekistan. Monitoring progress on SDG 6.5.1 - IWRM ” by V.I.Sokolov, IFAS Agency;
- “Implementation of programs on rational use of water resources in Mongolia” by D. Basandorj, National Water Partnership of Mongolia;
- “Prospects for Cooperation with Global Water Partnership in Turkmenistan” by G.Kh. Nurmukhammedova, Chair of GWP CACENA.
On the second day the following presentations were done:
- “Contribution of the Republic of Uzbekistan to resolving problems in the Aral Sea area” by V.I.Sokolov, IFAS Agency;
- “Simulation of irrigation regime of winter barley under soil salinization with the HYDRUS program” by A. Karimov, Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers;
- “Rational use of water resources in Turkmenistan” by A. Saparmyradov, Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan;
- “Development and implementation of projects in the field of water management” by G.Khommadov, Institute “Turkmensuvylimtaslama”;
- "Goals and objectives of the UN Special Program for the Aral Sea Basin" by M. Akmuradov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan.
After lunch the participants visited the forest plantations with drip irrigation systems in Ashgabat, the dog nursery for Central Asian Shepherd, and the greenhouse complex of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan.
The conference was widely covered by the media of Turkmenistan (7 state TV channels, including the international channel available on 5 languages and the Information Agency MEDIA-TURKMEN "ORIENT"). In an interview with “ORIENT”, Francois Brikke said: "All 17 Sustainable Development Goals are somehow related to water. A very important aspect is how countries implement water issues in their policies. I can say that Turkmenistan is confidently becoming part of the international and regional dialogue on this issue".