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WECF and Kyrgyz partner Unison postpone climate conference on Central Asia until further notice

All partners and staff in Kyrgyzstan of WECF unharmed

09.04.2010 |WECF Press Release

Utrecht / Bishkek April 9, 2010 - WECF and Kyrgyz partner Unison postpone the Second Central Asian  European International Forum on Climate Change, which would have been held April 20 and 21, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, up until further notice.

The environmental and women’s network WECF, Women in Europe for a Common Future, has seven  partner organizations in Kyrgyzstan, who are mainly concerned with the implementation of affordable energy sources like solar collectors, insulation and installing eco sanitation toilets for schools and rural households in the Central Asian republic and advocating work for the suitable policies regarding these issues. At the moment project work has come to a stand still and staff remain at home whenever possible.

Big bang
Fedde Jorritsma,  WECFs project facilitator and living in Bishkek: "I have been in touch with the Dutch consulate. They advised us to stay at home. If the situation deteriorates, an evacuation will be organized together with other embassies . At the moment, that doesn’t look likely.  Everyone is coming to terms with what happened, after this week’s big bang”. 
Jorritsma was at a lunch meeting in Beta stores, a shopping centre in the centre of Bishkek, not far from the main square, discussing biogas installations in Kyrgyzstan. Suddenly, men with machine guns came into the building summoning everybody to get out. They closed the building hermetically. “It was crazy at the streets. Cars were leaving the city and masses of people, mostly young men with black jackets, were heading off into the direction of the city centre. I decided to go home to my flat in the suburbs. I heard about the terrible situation through the local radio station, captured by the opposition”.
Latest news is that the president fled away to Jalalabat, in the South, where he originally comes from. People are afraid that the president could gather his supporters and that tension between north and south will escalate. Jorritsma: “That would be terrible. The atmosphere is now quiet here in the suburb of Dzal. Supermarkets and gtm's are closed. Only small kiosks are still open. Ironically, the tumbrel was collecting the garbage this morning like normally.  And I? I continue working on a training program for ecological sanitation in Kyrgyzstan. Meanwhile I sincerely hope the best for this beautiful country and their kind people”.
Rescheduling the conference
The WECF conference , which will probably be rescheduled for Mid-May or June either in Kyrgyzstan or in another Central-Asian Republic, is, supported by the German Ministry and prepared with participation of among others the Dutch Climate Ambassador, the Italian Ministry of Environment and the UNFCCC secreteriat as well as Central Asian and international experts .
The conference will address the outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and will focus on the way forward to achieving a just and equitable outcome in Mexico later this year, and the impacts and importance this will have for Central Asia. It will also address the opportunity and role of green technologies and various financing possibiities for these emerging technologies, which could be a way out of the shortage of energy resources which the people of Central Asia constantly face.  
Energy Poverty
Energy Poverty, or rather the lack of affordable energy is huge in this Central Asian country. It was one of the catalysts for the massive protests this week.  Additionally, lack of energy also leads to deterioration of  public health and to poverty in general. This is exacerbated by climate change and the harsh winters. In Central Asia l a large proportion of the population lives below the poverty line as established by the World Bank. Especially rural residents - particularly women and children - are vulnerable due to lack of energy resources. Some mountain areas are months isolated from the outside world, with temperatures sinking to 50 degrees below zero. 
Central Asian Republics are also very dependent on each other in terms of their energy. Thus, the hydropower dam in the Kyrgyz Republic  serves both as water reservoir for irrigation in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, which leads to shortages as more electricity is generated. Local and sustainable energy sources are already therefore a source of sustainable development, climate and forest protection and health improvement.
About WECF
WECF is a network consisting of over 100 women's and environmental organizations in forty countries in Europe and the EECCA region (Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia) who work together on sustainable development, protection of health and environment and poverty reduction. With our project work we develop practical and affordable solutions in the field of chemicals, sanitation, energy and food production. Our policy work we bring the perspectives of women into the spotlight at the European, UN, national and international levels.

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