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Bishkek (AKIpress) - Current trade and development patterns in Central Asia are placing well recognized burdens on the region’s water and energy resources.
The cultivation of water-intensive cash crops like cotton exacerbates pressures on water resources in the Aral Sea basin, while the extraction and export of fossil fuels and minerals poses threats of polluting by products and hazardous wastes, according to the paper titled “Central Asia Trade and Human Development” released by UNDP on April 8.
These environmental externalities generate real costs for real people, which are apparent inter alia in the socio-economic and health challenges facing communities located in the proximity of Aral Sea, or abandoned heavy metal mines.Greater support for trade in labour- (as opposed to natural capital- ) intensive activities, such as non-irrigated agricultural production, food processing, textiles, tourism, and wholesale and retail trade, can reduce the environmental footprint of production for export, while also broadening export baskets.
Efforts to ensure that trade policies are aligned with national green economy or sustainable development strategies (such as those now being introduced in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) are likewise important in this respect.