Concluding his visit to Uzbekistan, Special Advisor to the UNDP Administrator Abdoulaye Mar Dieye called for international and national development partners to continue efforts for reviving Aral Sea region spring back to life.

“The Aral Sea remains one of the worst environmental disasters of this region. This economic, environmental and social crisis encapsulates all the key elements of sustainable development,” he said, referring to the shrinking of the sea, ensuing loss of local communities’ livelihoods and health impacts caused by the infusion of pesticides into the dried-out soil.

“Now is a time for action. We need to revive the natural basis from which people in the remote areas of Karakalpakstan derive their livelihoods, encourage youth to come back and continue to revive the Aral Sea itself,” he said.

In recent years, the Government of Uzbekistan, with support from the UN, provided more than 66,000 rural residents with access to drinking water, electricity, healthcare and education. More than 215 small businesses have received support. In addition, around 213,400 people have received medical diagnoses. Dieye departed to Nukus to take part in A major international conference on the Aral Sea. He visited Muynak and witnessed firsthand the situation in the Aral Sea region where he spoke to local communities.

As a result of the conference, a draft of the special UN General Assembly resolution on declaring the Aral Sea region as a zone of environmental innovations and technologies was agreed with the Government of Uzbekistan.

Dieye held a series of bilateral meetings with high-level dignitaries from Uzbekistan including Ms. Elmira Basitkhanova, Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Women's Committee, Ms. Svetlana Artikova, Deputy Chairperson of the Senate, Mr. Jamshid Kuchkarov, Minister of Finances, Mr Ruslanbek Davletov, Minister of Justice and other senior state representatives to learn about the country’s development priorities, discuss opportunities and challenges and how UNDP cooperation can help. UN Assistant Secretary General also met IFIs, think tanks and had an interactive session on Globalization with the students of the Westminster International University in Tashkent.

“UNDP is committed to work closely with the Government of Uzbekistan to leverage resources, partnerships, and knowledge to convert the Aral Sea region into a zone of environmental innovations and technologies. We must take a step at a time, in a building-block approach where we build and learn from small successes. We welcome new ideas, platforms and initiatives that can help us take this forward. Our central principle is to leave no one behind - and it will be impossible for Uzbekistan to progress as a nation, without the people of Karakalpakstan”- said Mr. Mar Dieye in his opening remarks at a Conference launch.

UNDP had been working in Uzbekistan for the last 26 years to assist government and non-government institutions in gaining knowledge, expertise and resources for the successful achievement of economic and social reforms, and to ensure the well-being of the people of Uzbekistan.