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The Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development (ICSD) was established in 1994 by a Decision of the Interstate Council for the Aral Sea. It was originally called “the Interstate Commission on Socio-economic Development, Scientific, Technical, and Environmental Cooperation”, but changed its name in 1995. According to the Regulations of ICSD of 18 October 2000, the main purpose of the Commission is to coordinate and manage regional cooperation on environment and sustainable development in countries of Central Asia. Its tasks include developing a regional strategy for sustainable development, and programmes and plans for sustainable development, as well as coordinating activities to implement obligations of the Central Asian States under environmental conventions of a transboundary dimension.

ICSD consists of 15 members - 3 representatives from each country, including the head of the environmental agency, the deputy minister of economy and a representative of the scientific community.

The Chair of the Commission is elected on a rotating basis from the ministers of environment – commission-members - for the term of two years.

Its executive bodies are the Scientific and Information Center (SIC ICSD) and the Secretariat. SIC ICSD has branches in all countries of Central Asia, represented by units of the national environmental agencies. In addition, ICSD has initiated within its structure the establishment of the Regional Mountain Center and the Regional Center for Renewable Energy. There is a Public Board operating under the ICSD.

Activities of ICSD were supported for many years by the regional office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for Asia and the Pacific, based in Bangkok. UNEP is assisting in drawing up the ICSD work programme and in the detailed design of its individual elements. It also provides significant financial support to projects and activities carried out under its auspices. ICSD is a key partner of UNEP in Central Asia.

The geographical scope of ICSD covers the entire Central Asian region, according to its Regulations of 18 October 2000. However, the Regulations of SIC ICSD of 12 April 2001 limit its scope of activity to the Aral Sea Basin.

The ICSD mandate for facilitating harmonization of the legislative and methodological basis for the protection of the environment, as well as establishing a regional data bank on protection of the environment and sustainable development, matches, to some extent, the mandate of ICWC, although the mandate of ICSD goes far beyond just the water area.

The first integrated “state of environment” assessment for Central Asia, the Regional Environmental Protection Action Plan, and the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Environment for Sustainable Development in Central Asia, signed by three countries in the region, were developed under the auspices of the ICSD with support of UNEP.

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