World Environment Day in Uzbekistan, 2011. Photo: UNDP.

Countries in Europe and Central Asia face multiple energy, environmental and climate related risks and challenges, including a looming energy shortage.

The region relies on fossil fuels for over 80 percent of its energy needs and is highly inefficient in the use of energy – with only five percent of global GDP but 10 percent of global energy consumption.

High carbon footprints are caused by a legacy of energy intensity and inefficiency resulting in economic losses.

Other significant challenges include widespread unsustainable management of chemicals and the need to phase out ozone-depleting substances.

Despite current commitments under international conventions (such as the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity), many ecosystems and natural habitats are under threat - and land degradation, deforestation and loss of biodiversity are affecting agricultural productivity, food security and livelihoods.

The region is facing depletion of freshwater resources and degradation of aquifers, unsustainable management of transboundary water bodies and river systems, loss of soil fertility and vegetation cover, while uncontrolled agriculture, illegal logging, unsustainable mining practices, and overgrazing have resulted in the destruction of fragile wetlands, steppes and pristine forests.

Global warming in the southern belt of the region is ahead of the global average, and is on the rise in many parts of the region with more frequent and severe meteorological hazards. Countries in the region will be affected by increasing climate change and geophysical hazards to varying degrees depending on their particular vulnerabilities and their coping mechanisms. Many long-term effects, such as increasing scarcity of freshwater, will directly impact rural and urban populations across the entire region and will increase overall costs related to climate change adaptation.

Both in the short and long term, the misuse of natural resources not only increases the vulnerability of economic sectors (such as agriculture) and undermines prospects for sustainable, robust economic growth for countries, but threatens the health, and economic and social stability of people in the region.

What we do

Together with the Global Environment Facility, UNDP is working for lasting policy and institutional change that supports a green, low-carbon and climate resilient economy and society. We’re also working to catalyze investment in clean energy and the sustainable use of natural resources, managing the environment in a way that improves livelihoods and ultimately leads to sustainable growth.

UNDP works with national partners to design and implement programmes and activities that address key environmental challenges. This includes:

  • Reducing pressures and threats to land and water resources by reforming agricultural practices and carefully managing productive landscapes

  • Establishing and strengthening protected areas and managing biodiversity within the productive landscape, particularly on farmlands.

  • Integrating biodiversity and land management activities into economic sectors such as mining, forestry, and agriculture (which includes calculating the economic value of ecosystems)

  • Producing national strategies and plans to address climate change, including national communications to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

  • Accelerating market adoption of clean technologies (renewable energy, energy efficiency in industry and buildings)

  • Leveraging public and private funds (including official development assistance (ODA), the Global Environment Facility and market-based financial instruments) to encourage public and private sector investments in the environment


Some results so far

11 countries in the region reduced 723,235 tons of carbon dioxide by investing in low carbon technologies, energy efficient practices, sustainable transport and renewable energy.

Over 30 protected areas were established in the region and those managing 100 additional protected areas strengthened their conservation efforts. Collectively, countries in the region improved more than 50 million hectares of productive land and restored over 100,000 hectares of degraded areas.

In an effort to increase agricultural production and income, Tajikistan integrated sustainable land and water management in 14 district development programmes, the State Statistics Office database (to monitor the programmes), and the donor grant scheme, which funds the programmes.

Countries in the region have collectively phased out more than 2,000 tons of ozone-depleting substances, which also contributed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Kazakhstan, Moldova, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan developed national policies for low-emission and climate resilient development.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan adjusted their national development processes to address risks posed by current and future climate change; and 30 local communities in Armenia and Moldova responded to local climate-related risks, such as floods, drought, mudslides and hail, prioritizing and carrying out activities to reduce risks, and including them in local development plans.

Countries that are home to the Danube, Dnipro Kura-Aras, and Tisza River basins, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, and Lake Baikal collaborated on the development of a regional strategy and action plan, and developed follow up national action plans which identified the policy, legal and institutional reforms and investments needed to address common issues related to shared water systems.

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