Water and energy are crucial for economic, social and human development in Central Asia, but the region has faced difficulties for several years with regard to transboundary water and energy management. To help address these challenges, the World Bank has offered a multisector approach to regional collaboration, establishing what is known today as the Central Asia Knowledge Network program (henceforth referred to as “the Network”).
Launched as part of the Central Asia Energy-Water Development Program (CAEWDP), the Network seeks to stimulate cooperation and knowledge exchange among local and regional institutions and practitioners in the area of water resource management, energy, and climate change. Regional networks and communities of practice have been established, and institutions equipped with cutting-edge knowledge and skills to build the capacity of government officials and other professionals.
Serving as a platform for collaboration at both country and regional levels, the Network not only links cross-sectoral practitioners, academics and decision-makers, but also offers wide support for youth engagement through innovative outreach.
Covering the five Central Asia countries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the Kyrgyz Republic, plus Afghanistan, the Network supports coordinated access to water management and climate knowledge for various stakeholders, and contributes to the World Bank Group’s operational projects in the region.
Cross-Regional Knowledge Cooperation
To effectively address sustainable energy-water development goals set for the Central Asia region, sole reliance on financial investment is not sufficient: investment and project finance have to be combined with generating and sharing knowledge, building cross-border, cross-sectoral partnerships, and offering programs to engage youth in solving regional water and energy challenges.
The Network strives to achieve this by bringing together over 300 professionals with experience in water resource management across academia, and public and private sectors in Central Asia. These professionals exchange knowledge and experience by way of four interlinked communities of practice, workshops, joint research and analytical studies, competitions (such as Olympiads for students), training sessions (including Train-the-Trainer programs), and field work and visits.
Four communities of practice located within the World Bank Group’s Collaboration4Development Platform comprise the Academic Network in Central Asia (which brings together representatives from 26 regional universities), the Regional Cross-Sectoral Working Group in Kazakhstan, the National Cross-Sectoral Working Group in the Kyrgyz Republic, and the Central Asia Youth Forum on Water.