On December 18, 2019, multilateral consultations on the development of the United Nations Special Program for the Aral Sea Basin (UN SPAS) were held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan.

During the consultations the participants discussed the issues of the current status and experience of cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and noted documents, signed between two Organizations. The speakers underlined that the United Nations General Assembly by its resolution 73/297 of 28 May 2019, emphasized the importance of the development of regional environmental protection programs for sustainable development in Central Asia, including assistance programs for the countries of the Aral Sea basin. The opportunities and prospects for the development of cooperation between the UN and IFAS for the coming period were also considered.

In the framework of the multilateral consultations delegations have discussed the problems of inland waters and their solution at the national, regional and global levels and other issues of developing the United Nations Special Program for the Aral Sea Basin. There was acknowledged that the negative humanitarian, environmental and socio-economic consequences of inland water basins’ disasters such as the Aral Sea tragedy go well beyond the regions and represent a global concern.

During the consultations there was noted the creation of the multi-partner human security trust fund for the Aral Sea region under the auspices of the United Nations, which aims to overcome the negative consequences of the ecological catastrophe in the Aral Sea region and implement projects to improve the socio-economic situation in the region.

In conclusion the speakers called upon relevant United Nations system entities, in particular regional commissions to consider possibilities to conduct an independent feasibility study on the modalities for strengthening regional coordination and cooperation to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of natural disasters in inland water basins such as the Aral Sea and to assess, in that regard, the viability of establishing the United Nations Special Program for the Aral Sea basin to enhance regional support in natural disaster prevention and mitigation.