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Aral Sea poses threat to the world: Nazarbayev

29 september 2015, 19:10
2
Photo © AFP
Photo © AFP

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has addressed the problem of the Aral Sea during the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, Tengrinews reports citing the Akorda press office. 

Nazarbayev declared that the problem of the Aral Sea posed a threat not only to Kazakhstan, but also to the entire world.

The President brought up the Aral Sea in the context of the country's progress on the way toward greener economy. Kazakhstan has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions and is contributing to conservation of biological diversity on the planet. "We have approved a national concept of transferring to green economy. The problem of the disappearing Aral Sea poses a threat not only to our region, but also the whole country. The drying up of the Aral Sea leaves around 75 million tons of dust and poisonous salts to be carried by the wind as far as Europe and Antarctica. With the support of the World Bank, we were able to restore the northern part of the Aral Sea.  We are cooperating with the UN and international associations in rehabilitating the former Semipalatinsk test site area. Central Asian countries are awaiting help to combat these environmental problems," Nazarbayev said.

Back in the first half of the 20th century, Kazakhstan Aral Sea - the world's fourth largest saline lake - was fed by the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. In the 1960s, as a result of Soviet intervention for agricultural purposes, the two rivers were diverted from the Aral Sea creating a major deficit of water inflow. The human alteration to the environmental system of the region resulted in salinity increase from 10 g/l to 100 g/l. The total volume of the lake diminished from 1060 km3 to 210 km3, according to Thompson, Columbia University. The region's once prosperous fishing industry was destroyed together with the sea's fish that became largely extinct because of the extreme salinity, bringing unemployment and economic hardships to the local population. Kazakhstan continuously addresses the issue of the Aral Sea in attempts to solve the environmental disaster.

In an ongoing effort in Kazakhstan to save and replenish the North Aral Sea, a dam project was completed in 2005; in 2008, the water level in this lake had risen by 12 m compared to 2003. Salinity has dropped, and fish are again found in sufficient numbers for some fishing to be viable. The maximum depth of the North Aral Sea is 42 m (as of 2008).

Earlier, the Ministry of Energy suggested using the Irtysh River to save the Aral Sea by replenishing the lake with water from the rivers of Akmola Oblast in central Kazakhstan.

Moreover, Nazarbayev stressed that Kazakhstan supported the global document on the development of our planet.

"The adoption of the sustainable development goals signifies a turning point for countries and nations. The final document of our summit will become a real guide for the development and prosperity on the Earth. National governments all around the world are responsible for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The goals and landmarks of the UN's new document fully correspond with Kazakhstan's priorities and objectives. The Kazakhstan-2050 Strategy aimed at bringing our country into the list of the World's 30 Most Developed Countries is our response to the contemporary threats," President Nazarbayev said.

In conclusion, the President of Kazakhstan stated that the country was ready to make every effort and use all the resources to support global development. 

By Gyuzel Kamalova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina


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