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Modern history of Aral

The severity of the socio-economic and environmental situation, and the unresolved issues in participatory management of limited water resources in the transboundary rivers of the Aral Sea Basin motivated the intensive regional cooperation.
In 1992, the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev called upon the Heads of the Central Asian states to join efforts in mitigation of the negative impact of the Aral Sea shrinkage on the environment and people of the region.
Following intensive work, in February 1992, at the meeting of the heads of water management agencies of the Central Asian countries held in Almaty, the “Agreement on cooperation in joint management and protection of interstate water sources” was signed, and the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination (ICWC) – an interstate body for water resources management – was established, in order to make decisions on water use limits for the countries of the basin, while annually measuring the resources of transboundary rivers in the region.
A further step towards regional integration was the meeting of the Heads of Central Asian States held in Tashkent, on January 4, 1993. Following the meeting, the parties agreed on establishment of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS). The main objectives of this interstate organization are to raise awareness of the international community about the disastrous situation in the Aral Sea, organize financing for environmental, applied science and practical projects and programs aimed at environmental rehabilitation of the affected areas, as well as at addressing socio-economic issues in the region, using the funds of the Central Asian States and international organizations.
The Heads of the Central Asian States, at their meeting held in Kyzylorda on March 26, 1993, adopted the “Agreement on joint action to address the problems of the Aral Sea and surroundings, improve the environmental health and ensure socio-economic development in the Aral Sea Region” and signed the Statute of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), which date is now celebrated as the day of establishment of the IFAS. President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, N. A. Nazarbayev, was elected as President of the IFAS. The same meeting also established institutions such as the Interstate Council for the Aral Sea (ICAS) with a permanent Executive Committee in Tashkent, the Commission on the socio-economic development, scientific, technical and socio-economic cooperation (in 1995 transformed into the Commission on Sustainable development (CSD).


In June 1993, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N. A. Nazarbayev addressed the heads of 32 countries of the world with a request to assist and support the IFAS in implementing measures to mitigate the impacts of the Aral Sea crisis.