On 27 September, the first meeting of the heads of environmental protection ministries and agencies of the SCO member states, chaired by Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dmitry Kobylkin, took place in Moscow. The meeting was attended by heads of relevant executive authorities and senior representatives from India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as Russian President’s Special Representative on SCO Affairs Bakhtiyer Khakimov and SCO Deputy Secretary-General Sherali Saidamir Jonon.
The heads of the delegations agreed that the SCO has considerable potential for developing cooperation in environmental protection. The legal framework that is already in place includes the Concept for Cooperation in Environmental Protection (adopted at the SCO Heads of State Council Meeting in Qingdao on 10 June 2018) and the related Plan of Action (approved at the SCO Heads of State Council Meeting in Bishkek on 14 June 2019). It opens vast prospects for developing practical cooperation in this sphere.
In this connection, the meeting participants discussed concrete steps in the areas specified in the documents. In particular, an agreement was reached on considering an opportunity for setting up expert groups on biodiversity preservation, adaptation to climate change and mitigation measures, waste management, raising environmental awareness and education at all levels, and scientific and technical cooperation in environmental protection.
The sides held a substantial exchange of opinions on the most urgent environmental issues, including those related to environmental well-being of cities of the SCO member states. Particular attention was paid to efforts to improve the environment in major industrial and cultural centres.
The meeting participants approved a draft Programme for Developing Environmental Well-Being of SCO Cities aimed at reducing the urban population's vulnerability to anthropogenic impact on cities' ecosystems.
In addition, a decision was adopted on holding expert consultations on attracting investment in environment protection and financing joint projects and programmes aimed at improving the quality of environmental protection.
The next ministerial meeting is scheduled to take place in Tajikistan in 2020.