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The First meeting of the Working Group on Institutional and Legal Strengthening and the Development of Aral Sea Basin Programme - 3 took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 10-11 December 2009. The meeting was convened by the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) and facilitated by the UNECE under the program on Regional Dialogue and Cooperation on Water Resources Management in Central Asia, financed by the Government of Germany through GTZ (German Agency for technical cooperation).


The meeting of the Working Group became an important stage in implementation of the decisions of the Summit Meeting of the Heads of State-founders of the International Fund for Saving  the Aral Sea, which took place on 28 April 2009 in Almaty, where the Presidents of  Central Asian states expressed their  willingness to further improvement of the organizational structures and legislative base of the IFAS with the objective of increasing efficiency of its activities and better interrelationship with the financial institutions and donors. The Presidents also tasked the Executive Committee, in close cooperation with Interstate Commission for Water Coordination and Interstate Commission for Sustainable Development, involving national experts and donors to elaborate the Third Aral Sea Basin Program on provision assistance to the Aral Sea basin countries for the period 2011-2015(ASBP-3).


At its first meeting the Working group discussed existing institutional and legal framework for cooperation in water resources management, as well as revised the past experience in cooperation in the framework of various regional projects, including ASBP-1 and ASBP-2. Over 60 experts from Central Asian countries and institutions contributed to the analyses prior to the Working Group meeting. A significant contribution to discussion was also made by the international experts in institutional and legal issues in the area of water law by presenting an extensive analysis-assessment of the structural affiliates of IFAS and their mechanisms including legal aspects of IFAS activities from the beginning of its existence.


On the basis of the analysis made, the participants of the Meeting expressed various opinions and preliminary proposals on approaches and measures to improve the efficiency of regional cooperation. 


The Working Group discussed existing institutional and legal frameworks for transboundary water cooperation and preliminary proposals to improve the efficiency of regional cooperation.  Delegations also discussed modalities for the elaboration of ASBP-3, taking into account past experience of the regional projects and institutional and legal framework, mentioned during the session, including regular coordination with the donor community and international organizations.

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