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close this bookCentral Eurasian Water Crisis: Caspian, Aral, and Dead Seas (UNU, 1998, 203 pages)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentNote to the reader from the UNU
View the documentForeword
close this folder1. Perspectives on water environment management
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View the documentReferences
close this folderPart I: introduction
close this folder2. Central Eurasian water perspectives and arid land studies
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View the documentInternational cooperation for peaceful water management in critical areas
close this folder3. Major environmental problems in world lakes
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View the documentDeclining water levels
View the documentRapid siltation
View the documentAcidification
View the documentThe progress of eutrophication
View the documentContamination with man-made toxics
View the documentThe collapse of aquatic ecosystems
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close this folderPart II: The Aral Sea
close this folder4. Creeping environmental problems in the Aral Sea basin
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View the documentIntroduction
View the documentIntroduction to the notion of creeping environmental problems
View the documentCharacteristics of CEPs
View the documentCEPs and the Aral region
View the documentConcluding comments and a call for research
View the documentAcknowledgement
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close this folder5. the Aral Sea and socio-economic development
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View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe technical system of cotton monoculture
View the documentThe cotton swindle
View the documentEnvironmental problems and human health
View the documentThe problem of pesticide pollution
View the documentThe environment of the Aral Sea and international cooperation
View the documentThe future of Central Asia
View the documentRecommendations
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View the document6. Satellite image maps of the Aral Sea and Central Asia
close this folder7. Voices from the region
View the documentA word on Aral
View the documentThe role of academic research in solving the ecological problems of the Aral Sea region
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View the documentIranian strategies in Central Asia
close this folderPart III: The Caspian Sea
close this folder8. Environmental policy-making for sustainable development of the Caspian Sea area
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View the documentIntroduction
View the documentMorphometry and the principal hydrological features
View the documentThe water balance and water-level variations
View the documentThe economic impacts on the Caspian states of the water-level variations
View the documentOther development issues requiring international cooperation
View the documentConclusions
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close this folder9. Iranian perspectives on the Caspian Sea and Central Asia
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View the documentIntroduction
View the documentIran's northern geopolitical interests
View the documentThe issue of lake Hamun and the Hirmand River
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close this folderPart IV: The Dead Sea
close this folder10. Principles for confidence-building measures in the Jordan River watershed
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentBackground
View the documentHydrography
View the documentInternational water rights law
View the documentCooperative watershed development
View the documentTechnological and management alternatives for the future
View the documentConclusions
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentNotes
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close this folder11. Alternative strategies in the inter-state regional development of the Jordan Rift Valley
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View the documentIntroduction
View the documentCanal schemes for co-generation
View the documentThe Peace Drainage Canal scheme and eco-political decision-making
View the documentThe Aqaba hybrid scheme
View the documentTechno-political assessment of the Peace Drainage Canal and the Med/Red-Dead Sea canal
View the documentConclusion
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close this folderPart V: International organizations and inland seas
close this folder12. The role of international organizations in the integrated management of international water bodies: The activities of the UNU, UNEP, and the World Bank in the Middle East
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View the documentInternational water bodies require integrated management
View the documentThe need for international efforts and a role for international organizations
View the documentThe UNU: Accomplishments to promote sound management of international waters
View the documentAssistance given by UNEP and the World Bank to the Aral Sea programme
View the documentProgramme for the Caspian Sea basin as an international effort
View the documentConclusions
View the documentReferences
View the documentContributors
View the documentOther titles of interest

(introduction...)

Juha I. Uitto

Water is a finite natural resource, essential for the sustenance of life on earth. Agenda 21, a major outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), popularly referred to as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992, states that effectively integrated management of water resources is important to all socio-economic sectors relying on water. Rational allocation prevents conflict and enhances the social development of local communities, as well as economic planning and productivity.

Competition for fresh water resources, particularly in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world, is bound to lead to conflicts in the near future among countries sharing international freshwater bodies. Furthermore, environmental degradation resulting from intensive water development and usage, as well as from global change, plays an important role in the socio-economic and political processes both nationally and internationally.

Chapter 18 of Agenda 21 on the "Protection of the Quality and Supply of Freshwater Resources" further identifies the great importance of trans-boundary water resources and their use to the riparian states. It recognizes that cooperation among the riparian states is desirable in conformity with existing agreements and other relevant arrangements, taking into account the interests of all riparian states concerned.

Issues pertaining to the management of international waters for sustainable development figure prominently in the research programme of the United Nations University. Environment and sustainable development are one of the five main areas of concentration in the UNU programme. The programme entitled "Global Life-Support Systems" responds to Agenda 21. In 1993, the UNU appointed a high-level advisory team to explore ways by which the institution could contribute to the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Earth Charter. With a view to providing bases for sustainable environmental and political management of critical natural resources, the overall objectives of UNU activities in the field of the management of international waters focus on the comprehensive and objective study of regions in which countries share major international water bodies.

In 1993, the UNU organized a project focusing on the international waters of the Middle East, including the Nile, the Jordan, and the Euphrates-Tigris rivers. Water is seen as one of the major concerns in international politics in regions where fresh water is considered to be a scarce resource. The UNU Middle East Water Forum was organized, together with the International Water Resources Association and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in Cairo, Egypt, in February 1993. It brought together key actors from the countries in the region, many of whom had been involved in Middle East peace talks. The project looked at the international waters of the Middle East from the point of view of management for sustainable and peaceful purposes. It was, indeed, seen as making a contribution to the Middle East peace process by providing objective, scientifically based knowledge as well as management options for the utilization of regional trans-boundary water resources. Outputs of that Forum included the publication of three major books on water resources management and politics in the region (Biswas, 1994; Murakami, 1995; Wolf, 1995).

An ongoing activity that relates to environmental management focuses on the Aral Sea region, where a major environmental disaster, shared by a number of independent nations, has built up over a 30-year period. The Aral Sea is one of the regions assessed in the UNU project on "Critical Zones in Global Environmental Change" (Kasperson et al., 1995). In 1992, the UNU joined with the Global Infrastructure Fund Research Foundation of Japan to organize a symposium on the "Environmental Management of the Aral Sea

Region." A follow-up symposium, reporting on research progress, was held in December 1993 (Paoletto, 1992, 1994). The objective of these symposia was to seek solutions to the problems of the Aral Sea region through international cooperation.

The Asian Water Forum, organized in Bangkok in early 1995, focused on conflict resolution with regard to water allocations between the countries sharing three major Asian water bodies in Asia - the Mekong, the Ganges-Brahmaputra, and the Salween rivers. A related objective was to study issues related to industrial development, environment, and navigation along these rivers. Once again, the aim was to bring to the same table scholars and policy makers from the riparian countries, as well as representatives of major international organizations and donor agencies active in the regions of concern. Thus, these activities have major policy implications that go well beyond just academic research.

Building on past activities and common theoretical frameworks, the UNU cooperated with the International Lake Environment Committee Foundation and the UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre to organize a Forum focusing on water resources management in the major enclosed inland seas in the Central Eurasian region - the Aral Sea, the Caspian Sea, and the Dead Sea. This Forum was part of a three-day activity focused on the Central Eurasian water crises (27 December 1995 in Tokyo and 28-29 December 1995 in Otsu). With the invaluable cooperation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, leading scholars were brought together from the countries in the region, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Iran, as well as Russia, the United States, and Japan, who could speak on the common as well as unique problems facing the Caspian, Aral, and Dead Seas. The goal was to stimulate new, creative ideas for solving the environmental, social, economic, and political problems that are likely to emerge over shared water resources, especially inland seas. This volume is the outcome of that Forum.