01 Nov 2016
George Bouma, Team leader for Sustainable Development
Protecting nature in Uzbekistan. Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan
In the Central Asia region, the depletion of natural capital has become an urgent concern. A stark reminder of the region’s challenges is the drying up of the Aral Sea, which remains one of the world’s largest human-made ecological disasters. The following numbers are particularly worrying:
Tajikistan loses $442 million annually, almost 8 percent of GDP, due to land degradation; improving land management could generate a net benefit of $583 per person annually.
In Uzbekistan, 41 percent of the cultivated land is used to grow cotton, which requires more than 90% of extracted freshwater for irrigation. However, 20% of water is lost due to inefficiencies and structural deficiencies.
These figures reflect decades of intensive and pesticide-based agriculture, breakneck extraction of minerals and razing of forests. And they should serve as a wake-up call to do things differently. …