There is a lack of research on relevant environmental problems in Tajikistan, according to participants in an expert meeting held by IWPR-Tajikistan in Dushanbe.
Representatives of the Academy of Sciences and independent experts attended the meeting.
During the meeting, issues of water use, air pollution and sustainable urban planning were discussed.
Shahodat Saibnazarova, environmental journalist and moderator of the meeting noted that in Tajikistan, environmental discourse could include a wide range of topics, including biodiversity, climate change and sustainable production.
Head of the division of the Institute of Economics and Demography of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan, Shamsuddin Jalolov, emphasized the importance of the relationship between socio-economic development and environmental protection. He noted that the process of rapid urbanization with all its advantages, at the same time, became a source of serious global problems.
Through an increase in population density in large cities, the amount of solar power decreases by 15 percent and the amount of precipitation increases. Also, occurs an increase in cancer and infectious diseases.However, Jalolov considers that at the moment, the understanding of the importance of ecology is increasing in the state bodies of Tajikistan. As an example, Jalolov pointed to the establishment of an ecology committee in the newly elected parliament of the republic and introduction of the post of Deputy Mayor of Dushanbe on ecological issues. Timur Idrisov, an independent environmental expert also remotely joined the meeting. In his presentation, Idrisov talked about the experience of other countries in urban planning, at the same time comparing with the situation in Tajikistan. He emphasized the importance of an integrated approach and taking into account the interest of all citizens, for instance, in addressing the issues of transportation and construction of parks.
He also noted that the experience of other countries has demonstrated that information and education do not always play a key role in transition to an environment-friendly lifestyle.
“State policy should use financial instruments to make environmentally unfriendly modes of transport less attractive”, – said Timur Idrisov.
He believes that this approach can more effectively solve environmental issues in the cities.
Air pollution was the main theme of the presentation by Abdukodiri Khurshed, an independent expert. He mentioned that the main factors in this regard for Tajikistan are the increase in the number of cars and frequent dust storms. The latter are a consequence of massive felling of shrubs (white saxaul) in the south of Tajikistan, which serves as a kind of wind shield.
The speaker indicated that the air quality index IQ Air in Dushanbe is on average 70-80, which is below the generally accepted standard and, sometimes the indicator scale reaches 170-190, which presents danger to the population.
Khurshed drew attention to the different perceptions of environmental problems in cities and rural areas. Young people in the regions experience the changes in the environment themselves and as a result their awareness of the environmental issues is higher.
During the discussions, the participants of the meeting highlighted the fact that there is not enough technical equipment in Tajikistan to monitor the air quality. At the moment the Hydrometeorology (Hydromet) Centre in Dushanbe is equipped only with one fixed station. There are two more mobile stations at the State Committee for Environmental Protection.
During the discussion, Shamsuddin Jalolov noted that officials are sometimes afraid to talk about the limitations which prevents an open discussion of the problem in the early stages.
Afterwards, Abdukodiri Khurshed emphasized that the initiatives of the international organizations in the country are also not always effective. As an example he pointed out to the Aarhus Centres, which are not actively performing one of their main functions – helping citizens to understand environmental issues.
In the concluding part of the meeting, the participants asserted the need for public involvement in the discussion of urban planning and transport development, media coverage of the environmental problems in Tajikistan, as well as the political will for advancement of needed non-standard solutions.