The Second High-Level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028, was held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on 6-9 June 2022. With a focus on “catalyzing water action and partnership at the local, national, regional, and global levels”, the conference provided opportunities to create an enabling environment and platform for the promotion of action, partnership, and policy dialogue, review the implementation of the Decade, as well as to promote interlinkages with and contribute to other relevant processes.
Tajikistan’s mountains cover about 93% of the country and provide significant water resources, huge hydropower potential, a variety of minerals, favorable conditions for producing environmentally friendly food products, as well as real opportunities for active development of ecological tourism.
These high mountainous landscapes are home to over 70% of people, mainly living in rural, community conserved areas (CCAs). Most of these CCAs are adjacent to government-protected areas including national parks.
On 6 June, 70 multilevel stakeholders, including the SGP’s partner Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) representing Tajikistan’s local mountainous communities and conserved territories, participated in the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Forum, specifically on the inclusive approaches to water in ecosystems, land, agriculture, and knowledge development.
This Forum was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and commenced with welcoming speeches from the Chairperson of the Local Development Committee under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan and the First Deputy Ministry of the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources of the Republic of Tajikistan, followed by Darío José Mejía Montalvo - Chair of UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNFPII). The event facilitated open dialogues and exchange of ideas between the multilevel stakeholders from North America, Africa, Asia, the Russian Federation, and Central Asia countries. Dialogues focused on regional challenges and the full engagement of indigenous peoples and local communities in global processes. It also aimed to feed into the discussions and contribute to delivering key messages to the Dushanbe Water Process leading up to the 2023 UN Water Conference.
In this Forum, four SGP-supported NGOs shared knowledge and best practices in implementing projects under the Phase 2 of the Global Support Initiative to territories and areas conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities (ICCA-GSI), a rapid response to cope with and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, the NGOs shared mountain community experiences in (i) increasing food production systems through agroecology and agroforestry practices, (ii) transmitting traditional medical knowledge; and (iii) strengthening local bio circular economy in the CCAs through access to green financing and technologies (e.g., energy-efficiency, solar-energy, water storage), and to local and regional markets for sales of the agricultural and non-timber forest products (NTFP) (e.g., food, crops, medicinal herbs, handicrafts, etc.), and through eco-tourism development in CCAs (establishment of local home-stays, hostels, and local services, small & medium entrepreneurship development).
For example, the NGO Kuhsori Badakhshon shared a story on the Khuf communities living in the Pamir Mountains, a mountain range between Central Asia, South Asia, and East Asia. The Pamir Mountains are amongst the highest mountains in the world and mostly lie in Tajikistan’s Badakhshan Province. Here, the Khuf communities’ traditional lifestyle is based on the sustainable use of local natural resources, particularly, land, water, and forest due to their high dependence on the environment for their livelihoods. With support from the ICCA-GSI, the Khuf communities are able to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 by restoring wild mountain forests and plantations of medicinal plants and wild berries. In turn, they have diversified their income-generation activities through increased production and sales of crops and NTFPs while safeguarding local ecosystems.
Some lessons learned, important conclusions and recommendations include: (i) having better science-based and research communication to all stakeholders and the inclusion of local communities in the decision-making process to avoid non-science based policies and decisions; (ii) investing in capacity development, research, technologies and innovations to address novel and the most urgent challenges and priorities for societal needs, notably in areas of cryosphere, water and climate change; (iii) increasing the regional cooperation and coherence in strengthening linkages between several Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) including SDG 6, 11.5, 13 and 17 with concrete actions in mountain communities on the ground, including with wide participation of women, youth and in a multi-stakeholders approach and partnerships; and (v) enhance science-based communication for the most vulnerable, by involving them and tapping on citizen’s science approaches, and “translating” better science to local audiences, including with the participation of youth.
Key action points from the stakeholders include (i) improving communications and partnerships amongst CCAs on water and mountains, in line with the Water Decade; and (ii) establishing new goals for a broader and more inclusive cooperation in the implementation of the SDG 6 and other water-related goals, involving scientists, youth, practitioners, local communities and decision-makers.
For the full Dushanbe Declaration, please click here.