The UNCCD Executive Secretary Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw joined a video chat with the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan Mr. Muhtar Babayev and UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Ghulam Isaczai to discuss the support provided by the UN agencies to the republic during the prolonged drought and increasing water shortages.
The minister expained that the effects of the climate change in the republic include an average temperature increase of 1.4 C, with the expected reduction of river flow by 23 per cent on average between 2021-2050. Since 70 per cent of water resources in Azerbaijan originate outside the country, integrated water management and cooperation among the republics of South Caucasus is crucial to water security. As Mr. Babayev explained, the country would like to see a stronger engagement of UN agencies in facilitating dialogue and creating cooperation mechanisms for countries that share common river basins. The minister also presented the project to digitize tracking of water usage at the farm level and confirmed that Azerbaijan is interested in accessing good practices in smart agriculture and drought management through the UNCCD knowledge platforms.
Mr. Thiaw highlighted the detrimental effects of drought and water insecurity on social and economic development as one of the main reasons for establishing the Intergovernmental Working Group on Drought (IWG). The group was launched at UNCCD COP14 to develop recommendations for establishing technical, financial and policy mechanisms to address drought. Mr. Thiaw encouraged the Minister and his team to follow the work of IWG and ensure that the water security concerns of the country are addressed. Mr. Thiaw stressed that UNCCD supports technological advancements as the investment in the future water security, with the best techniques and approaches adaptable to the regional and local context.
Mr. Ghulam Isaczai confirmed the commitment of the UN country team to support the Government of Azerbaijan as outlined in the country cooperation framework for the next five years and emphasized the need for immediate action to raise awareness on water saving technologies through policy and by sharing good practices. The meeting participants agreed to continue dialogue between UNCCD, the UN country team and the ministry on immediate and long-term measures to build a water-secure future for Azerbaijan.