First meeting of the new regional project entitled “Ecologically Oriented Development in the Aral Sea region” (ECO-ARAL) took place on 26.01.2021 in Nukus, the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

At the opening session of the workshop, warm welcoming speeches were given by Mr. Khodjaev J.A, the Minister of Agriculture of Uzbekistan, Mr. Muratov E.K, representative of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr. Ametov M., Deputy Chairman of the Committee of the environment protection and ecology of Karakalpakstan, Mr. Klaus Tanzberger, Senior Policy Officer, Central Asia Regional Programmes, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mr. Christopher Fuchs, Deputy Ambassador of Germany to the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr. Jörg Pudelka, GIZ Country Director for Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Following that, the team of ECO-ARAL conducted a brief presentation explaining the aim and goals of the project. All four project components were presented to the participants. They include (i) strengthening the capacity of experts and institutions from public and private sector to take ecologically oriented investment decisions (ii), improving the use of GIS, satellite applications and advisory services (iii), piloting ecologically oriented measures (iv) and supporting the update or development of cross-border guidance and strategies (iv) The alignment of the project with UN SDGs and with national strategies of the governments of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were pointed out.

The workshop was conducted in a hybrid format with 30 onsite participants in Nukus and about 100 online participants from all over the world.

“We invited you to this workshop to find out which cross-border, economic and environmental issues should be addressed in the course of the project implementation, as well as to hear your suggestions about institutions to cooperate with”, noted Mr. Paul Schumacher, the manager of ECO-ARAL regional project in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

During the workshop, Mr. Igor Klein, representative of German Aerospace Center noted that the most important step at the beginning of the project will be to define topics and variables of interest. “We need to decide what is important and what kind of satellite data and approaches are most appropriate for ECO-ARAL project”, he said at the end of his presentation.

As a result of the fruitful meeting a list of initial members of the steering committee and ideas for operational plan of the project in 2021 was drafted, in agreement with partners and stakeholders.