On 22 June 2023, the Uzbek Minister of Natural Resources, Aziz Abdukhakimov, also stopped off at the Potsdam Telegrafenberg with a delegation as part of his visit to Germany. At the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, he discussed about opportunities for scientific and technological cooperation in the fields of natural hazards, sustainable water management and climate change.
Susanne Buiter, Scientific Director of the GFZ, said in her welcome address that Central Asia is traditionally an important research region of the GFZ, the importance of which will increase in the future. Among other things, she emphasised the possibilities of satellite-based Earth observation for innovative water management in the region. In addition to the GFZ, the Central Asian Institute for Applied Geosciences CAIAG in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, a cross-border research institution jointly operated by the GFZ and the Kyrgyz state, offered institutional cooperation opportunities.
Minister Aziz Abdukhakimov emphasised that cooperation with Germany and research centres like the GFZ were of great interest to his ministry. He was very interested in the possibilities of innovative methods of water management using modern satellite technologies. The danger of devastating glacial lake outbursts is also increasing due to climate change. His country will prepare itself for this. He also asked for active support in establishing the recently founded transnational “Central Asian University of Environmental Protection and Climate Change”.
Example of sustainable water management
Abror Gafurov, scientist of GFZ-Section 4.4 "Hydrology", presented as coordinator the project "Central Asian Water" – CAWa-Green, in which Germany is already cooperating closely with various partner institutions from Central Asia, including two Uzbek research institutions. As part of the "Green Central Asia Initiative" funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, CAWa-Green aims to contribute to a solid scientific and reliable regional data basis for the development of sustainable water management strategies in Central Asia. This is because Central Asia faces major water-related challenges, including water scarcity, water quality degradation and inefficient water use.
Example of renewable energies
Yana Zabanova, researcher at the Research Institute for Sustainability - Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam RIFS, presented her research work in the project “Geopolitics of Energy Transformation: Implications of an International Hydrogen Economy” (GET Hydrogen). She analyses the strategies with which the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are responding to the geo-economic challenges of the energy transition. At the same time, she looks at the countries' ambitions to expand renewable energies in order to contribute to the decarbonisation of their economies and at the same time increase energy security. Kazakhstan is a pioneer in Central Asia in the field of renewable energy, but is increasingly challenged by Uzbekistan's proactive stance. Throughout the region, renewable energy is now increasingly but slowly being seen as an opportunity for cooperation with industry players from other countries, so there is growing interest in expanding it – including infrastructure for the production of green hydrogen.
Expansion of joint activities
At the end of the meeting, both parties agreed to continue the dialogue in order to further concretise joint fields of action in research and its applications in Central Asia.