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central-asia  ON THE GROUND
Can Central Asia’s mountains adapt?

Central Asia’s mountains are recognised as a biodiversity hotspot supporting a diverse range of endemic flora and fauna. Its mountain ecosystems act as water towers, providing freshwater to mountain and downstream communities, while its tourism industry increasingly empowers people across the region.


Yet climate change is becoming more and more visible. For instance, scientists warn about the melting away of Central Asian water towers, while Kazakh media have recently reported the premature blossom of snowdrops in mountain regions due to an unusually warm winter, which could be a further sign of severe changes to mountain ecosystems.


In response, UN Environment - together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and other partners - organized a workshop on the adaptation of Central Asian Mountains to climate change in sectors such as forestry, water, energy, biodiversity and disasters to better protect vulnerable mountain populations.


The event was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 19-20 December and was attended by various experts from Central Asia and beyond as well as governmental representatives. There, a joint approach for the region’s economies and communities to adapt to climate change was discussed, with a particular focus on mountain regions. Water resources in the mountains require focused attention, Central Asian experts agreed for example.


Preliminary findings from a draft ‘Outlook on Climate Change Adaptation in the Central Asian Mountains’ were also presented. Coverage of this and the threats posed by climate change were covered by local and regional media thanks to the Internews organization.


The outcomes of the workshop will feed into new regional strategic guidance planned to be presented at a Regional Environmental Forum in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in June this year.


The workshop was organized under the UN Environment-led project titled ‘Climate Change Action in Developing Countries with Fragile Mountainous Ecosystems from a Sub-regional perspective’.


The project has a particular focus on Central Asia, but also seeks to promote the role ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change can play in mountain regions in East Africa, the South Caucasus, Tropical Andes and Western Balkans.


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