Архив за месяц: Май 2010

CRISIS UNFOLDS: Exchanging living rivers for thermal power

 There is a growing feeling among observers and experts that Kherlen and Khakh river water transfers are agreed upon between water agencies of China and Mongolia as «reciprocal measures», completely disregarding environmental and social consequences. Below we list some recent news from both basins

In October -December 2010 from a series of Mongolian publications we learn about advance in Sino-Mongolian negotiations for water transfer from Kherlen River (empties in China  into Dalai-Hulun Lake) to Gobi desert. The development of major mineral deposits requires water resources and instead of following World Bank advice to improve use of groundwater, there are attempts to develop transfers from Orkhon (tributary to Selenge) and Kherlen (Kelulunhe) rivers.  Chinese firms are contracted to assist water transfer and development of additional thermal power generation with the use of part of Kherlen waters at Shivee-Ovoo.

In April -May 2010 Mongolian State Hural  is discussing the National Water Programme that includes water transfers from Orkhon (tributary to Selenge) and Kherlen (Kelulunhe) rivers, and many other water infrastructure projects. Programme is criticized by NGOs and some PMs. Group of Chinese engineers is surveying the field near future reservoir site on Kherlen River banks.

In January 2010 the Water Resources and Engineering Department of Beijing Teachers University is ordered to do an Environmental Impact Assessment on water transfer from Halahahe (Khalkh) River to Xilinguole coal mines and thermal power stations. The Halahahe (Khalkh) transboundary Sino Mongolian river is the main source of water for Buir and Dalai Lakes -each of them Ramsar sites.

In February 2010 Inner Mongolia authorities apply to the  Ministry of environment of China to rename «Dalai Lake» Biosphere reserve into «Hulun Lake«.

Besides possible drastic environmental consequences, this also presents a very gloomy precedent in transboundary water management. We will keep investigating the case.

Rivers without Boundaries

Princess presents top conservation accolade to Vadim Kirilyuk

 On 12 MAY 2010 in London, UK  HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) presented one of the world’s top prizes for grassroots nature conservation — a Whitley Award — to Dr Vadim Kirilyuk of Russia, for his work to win better protection for the Mongolian gazelle and for the places and routes the herds use while migrating through the vast steppe covering Russia’s border with Mongolia.

Dr Kirilyuk, the Deputy Director of the Daursky Biosphere Reserve, received his honour during a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society, London, hosted by The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) — the UK-based charity behind the international awards scheme.

The Whitley Award for Vadim Kirilyuk includes a project grant of ?30,000 — donated by The William Brake Charitable Trust — an engraved trophy, membership of the influential network of past Whitley Award winners, international recognition and leadership development training.

The award to Vadim Kirilyuk recognises his efforts to conserve Central Asia’s last great land migration spectacle by gaining greater protection for the Mongolian gazelle as it crosses the vast Daurian steppe at the border between Russia and Mongolia, including by rallying local people to help reduce hunting, improve grazing and opening up safer routes for the animals in border fences.

The  top prize — the ?60,000 Whitley Gold Award — went to Dr Angela Maldonado of Colombia for her efforts around the Colombia-Peru border to end the illegal capture of night monkeys for biomedical research, including by developing alternative, sustainable, ways for rainforest communities to earn a living.

In addition, Her Royal Highness also presented six other Whitley Awards worth ?30,000 each to conservation leaders from Argentina, Cameroon, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda and Uruguay.

The ceremony at which Vadim Kirilyuk received his accolade was co-hosted by BBC wildlife presenter Kate Humble and witnessed by a 350-strong audience which included embassy representatives, Whitley Fund for Nature donors, including HSBC, and WWF-UK, and leading environmentalists.

In all, grants worth ?270,000 were presented, bringing the total amount distributed by the Whitley Awards since their inception to ?6m across 55 countries.

The Whitley Awards scheme is an annual competition, now in its 17th year. It exists to identify, fund and encourage inspirational local conservation leaders and their teams in developing countries. To find out more about the charity and its work please see: http://www.whitleyaward.org/

Dauria pilot project submitted to the UNECE Water Convention

 The Task Force on Water and Climate under the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes is responsible for activities related to adaptation to climate change, including flood and drought management. In 2007-2009, the Task Force prepared a Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change  which provides governments with strategic recommendations on how to implement adaptation in the water sector and throughout water-related policy sectors addressing in particular transboundary aspects. The Meeting of the Parties also decided to foster implementation of the Guidance through a programme of pilot projects and a platform for exchanging experience with adaptation in the transboundary context.

The third meeting of the Task Force on Water and Climate took place on Wednesday, 12 May 2010, in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, back-to-back with the Workshop on adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins, which was held on 10-11 May 2010 in Geneva.

The meeting discussed the programme of pilot projects and the platform for exchanging experience with adaptation in a transboundary basins. It also provided an opportunity to review implementation of the Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change and to discuss a possible contribution to the seventh Ministerial Conference of the «Environment for Europe» process, to be held in autumn 2011 in Astana, Kazakhstan, which will have water and water-related ecosystem as one of two themes.

 «Dauria transboundary rivers- adaptation to climate change» was the pilot project proposal presented to the Task force by  Eugene Simonov, on behalf of Dauria Biosphere Reserve, WWF Russia

Argun-Hailaer, Khalkh, Kherlen, Uldz, Onon rivers- virtually all notable basins of the Amur Headwaters are transboundary. Greatest threat — competition for water made the goal of national policies and demolishing transboundary wetlands to store waters on national territories. Unfortunately this threat is rapidly unfolding into crisis as countries start implement unilateral measures to alleviate drought consequences. Russia need assistance from the Convention on developing adaptation strategy for the Argun River Basin and environmental flow requirements for transboundary rivers of Dauria.

Proposed focus of the pilot project under UNECE is climate change adaptation, research on environmental flow requirements, monitoring  and assessment including data management and information exchange.

Specific objectives of the pilot project:

1— Climate adaptation and strategic assessment of river management options

2—Develop environmental flow norms for the Argun and Uldz Rivers.

3—Enhance wetland monitoring system.

4—Wetland protected area network enhancement.

5— Education and information sharing on climate adaptation in transboundary Dauria

The main priority for cooperation with UNECE is the mechanisms of the Convention of the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, in particular, «GUIDANCE ON WATER AND ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE.»

A strategic assessment of the water management options in the Dauria should be prepared, based on the guidelines. This strategy will identify key threatening processes to the Dauria water systems and prescribe both Russian domestic and cooperative transboundary actions to prevent and remove these threats. Preparation of such policy document will introduce modern approaches to transboundary river basin management into decision-making in the region and establish links to relevant international institutions.


The problems of Dauria transboundary rivers evoked interest and support on the part of meeting participants: Convention Secretariat, representatives of Slovakia, US, Germany, etc. Kazakhstan representatives invited colleagues from Dauria to a workshop on Lake Balkhash and Ili River basin, shared with China. Task Force members  suggested that contacts with China and Mongolia could be made before the meeting in Astana to try to envolve them into dialogue on transboundary basins with UNECE region.

At the end of the meeting a letter from «Rivers of Siberia» international conference on necessity to provide international assistance to Dauria transboundary basins, where water crisis is unfolding, was submitted to the Convention Secretariat.

Giant chair at UN entrance in Geneva