THE GEOPOLITICAL DIMENSION OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY. WATERS AND CONFLICT IN THE ARAL SEA BASIN
Keywords:Aral Sea Crisis, Transboundary Water Resources Management, Sustainable Development, Environmental Policies
In the last decades the Aral Sea, located in Central Asia on the boundary between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, experienced a dramatic shrinking, divulged even in newspapers and magazines. Such an ecological catastrophe, renamed the “Aral Sea Crisis”, was triggered by the artificial diversion of the rivers of the basin during the Soviet period, in order to irrigate new cotton fields. Nowadays, notwithstanding the fulfilment of several environmental restoration projects and a wide scientific literature about the process, the general balance about the water body, in particular its Uzbek side, is still critical. This paper, after a synthesis concerning the causes and the consequences of the ecological disaster, analyses the geopolitical implications connected to the deterioration of the environmental quality in the region and to water management in Post-Soviet Central Asia, underlining, in the case of the Aral Sea Basin, the criticities linked to its fast transition from an internal basin to an international one. Finally, Central Asian water-related old programs and future scenarios are discussed.
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