Statement of Helena Fraser, UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan: An International Online Conference: “Give Life to the Aral Sea”

On behalf of the UN Country Team in Uzbekistan I am very happy to welcome you to this conference to speak alongside the distinguished opening panelists.

The UN family in Uzbekistan is deeply committed to support the Government’s efforts to Give (new) life to the Aral Sea.

And in so doing to accelerate inclusive and sustainable human development in the Aral Sea region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s event is about communication. The stated aim is to bring together representatives of Government, international organizations, philanthropists, environmentalists, scientists and influencers from around the world to increase the global awareness about the Aral Sea tragedy alongside with global information campaigns in social media to “Give Life to Aral”

Our USG for Strategic Communication, Melissa Fleming – always talks about the power of telling human stories to build empathy and drive action.

We can approach the Aral Sea crisis through many different human stories.

Let me briefly illustrate a few slides and speak briefly on each.

For the UN, there is also a story to tell. It’s a story about working with Government and communities to build a partnership for people. Harnessing the Government’s, international partners’ and – most importantly -- local people’s efforts to address the human security crisis to improve the environmental and socio-economic situation in the Aral Sea Region. A partnership to join hands to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. To showcase lessons from how working in new ways, with local communities, can help Give Life to Aral.

This partnership led to the President’s decision to establish of a UN Multi-Partner Human Security Trust Fund for the Aral Sea region in Uzbekistan, which officially launched at the margins of the 73rd UN General Assembly in 2018. We are proud of the work of the UN family, with local communities and national partners, in realizing this vision.

Our commitment to the region is also  why -- over the past 3 years the UN office -- has facilitated the New York Times, Al Jazeera English, CGTN, Russia 24, VOA to visit UN partners in the region and tell the story. Today’s event shows the determination of the Agency for Information and Mass Communications under the Administration of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan to play a crucial role in working and mobilizing international media and freelancers to cover Aral Sea region, providing them with enabling opportunities to travel and do their work.

In closing, let me share two points:

First – the sea is gone, but the people – their hopes and dreams -- are not. This is a human story, and we must address it through human eyes and human agency.

Second – all of us have a stake in the Aral Sea. Let’s harness the power of stories and of social networks to build a coalition of partners to share experiences, vision, and best practices related to the Aral Sea catastrophe, human capital development through social entrepreneurship and innovative methods to rehabilitate the environment.

Together, with people like Manzura from Muynak, we can and must make a difference.

Thank you.


Speech by
Helena Fraser
Resident Coordinator
Helena Fraser
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Children’s Fund
World Health Organization