New UNESCO Regional Project on climate change adaptation launched in Central Asia

6 May 2021

The UNESCO Office in Almaty, together with four Central Asian countries the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan developed a project proposal for funding by the Adaptation Fund. The project aims to reduce climate change induced risks and address the threat of glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs) in Central Asia.

On 29 April 2021, an inception conference of the UNESCO-Adaptation Fund project "Reducing vulnerabilities of populations in the Central Asia region from glacier lake outburst floods in a changing climate" (GLOFCA) was organized by the UNESCO Office in Almaty. The event was joined by more than 120 participants, including high-level governmental representatives from four Central Asian countries, representatives of research institutions and academia, UN agencies, NGOs, development partners and youth. This is the first UNESCO project, funded by the Adaptation fund globally, and the first regional project of such scale in Central Asia, addressing GLOFs within the full context of climate change adaptation, extending from baseline knowledge and capacity building, monitoring and anticipation, through to development and implementation of adaptation strategies. The project duration is five years from 2021 to 2026.

GLOFCA project regional launch UNESCO Almaty

Central Asia is facing serious challenges in coping with the adverse effects of climate change. One of its most significant effects in the region is the intensive melting of glaciers and the associated formation of glacial lakes, which pose a threat to mountain communities, their settlements, livelihood, and infrastructure located on river floodplain areas.

The project includes both a research component involving risk assessment and mapping, the design and implementation of early warning systems, as well as extensive training and awareness-raising activities focusing on local communities at risk. The project will also strengthen the monitoring, analytical and response capacities of institutions and government officials responsible for disaster risk reduction, emergencies and climate change adaptation.

Reinforcing scientific cooperation is a key element for improving capacities for disaster risk reduction.

Ms Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences

As the only UN agency responsible for the promotion of international cooperation in science, UNESCO aims at developing a deeper scientific comprehension of the occurrence and distribution of natural hazards in time and space. By operating at the interface between natural and social sciences, education, culture, and communication, UNESCO plays a vital role in constructing a global culture of resilient communities. Access to scientific information and data is crucial for countries to manage the multidimensional risks and challenges they face. We very much hope that this project will not only fill the gap between disaster risk reduction strategies and climate change adaptation, but it will provide the science-based information and tools to affected communities, bridging the science-society-policy nexus and practice, noted Ms Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, in her welcoming remarks to the participants.

As a follow-up of the regional launch, national technical workshops will be organized further to discuss the details of the project work plan in each participating country.


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