Interview with Gozel Atamuradova, Land Management Specialist “Supporting the implementation of climate change legal reform”

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The UNDP project “Supporting climate resilient livelihoods in agricultural communities in drought-prone areas of Turkmenistan” actively cooperates with the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan to improve the institutional and legal framework for the efficient use of water and land resources, including key climate risk management principles.

We asked Gozel Atamuradova, Project specialist to tell us more about the ongoing reforms.

UNDP: Gozel, please tell us about the legal reform process in the field of climate change? How is it going? Which parties are involved?

Gozel Atamuradova: Our project is actively involved in the development and improvement of the regulatory framework in the field of land relations by attracting qualified specialists in the field of jurisprudence and creating a “platform” to discuss and refine current bills and regulations. As the main development mechanism, a working group was created, which included lawyers, specialists from the Ministry of Agriculture and Nature Protection and the State Committee for Water Management of Turkmenistan, deputies of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, representatives of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan) and tenants of farmers associations who are practitioners, as well as users of the law.

Within the framework of the project, working meetings engaging about 177 people. The objective of working meetings is to establish communication with the departments, ensure overall coordination of the group’s work, analyze the dynamics of the group’s work, as well as demonstrate the results of the past period, discuss the status of regulatory acts and land use bills.

UNDP:  Please, tell us, why is there a need for such a reform?

Gozel Atamuradova: In recent years, Turkmenistan has embarked on transition to the market economy model. Compared to 2010, the number of privatized entities in the country increased by 16.7 times. Moreover, recent changes in country's agro-industrial sector, the development of which for the most part falls on the regions, served as the main impetus for the reform. That reform included the revision of the existing Land Code (2004), which in the context of the general development of agriculture and the private agro-industrial sector, is an important legislation in the field of water-land relations.

Against the background of the reforms that have taken place, within the framework of the project’s activities, we are increasingly contacted with large agro-producers, founders of farmers unions and large land users. In addition to practical skills, they need to know the legal framework and the existing government programs to develop and create sustainable production, which in many respects will help them avoid the risks associated with the organization of agro-production. Therefore, besides supporting the reform itself, we also spread knowledge about innovations among farmers and other interested parties.

UNDP: What approach does the project use?

Gozel Atamuradova: In order to achieve the set results, we chose an approach which corresponds to the “Country support platform” concept. This approach allows you to create a platform to ensure the most effective interaction on the legislative aspect between the executive authorities, experts and practitioners. This way, we facilitate adaptation to climate change at the community, district, and national levels to ensure climate-resilient livelihoods among agricultural communities, since rural residents are the main users of water and land legislation.

UNDP: Could you give an example of your work for clarity?

Gozel Atamuradova: In total, with the assistance of the UNDP project and the Ministry of Agriculture and Nature Protection of Turkmenistan, 4 draft laws and 4 legal acts were drafted and submitted to the relevant authorities.

Among the most recent achievements, the project assisted in preparation of a draft law of the new Land Code of Turkmenistan, the work on which was completed in May 2019. At the local level, support was provided to local tenants in concluding contracts for the lease of land for gardening for a period of 10 years, which fully complies with the country's legislation. One of the illustrative examples is a resident of farmers union “Parahat”, who previously entered into a contract for a period of 1 year with an annual renewal.

In the process of cooperation with local NGOs, the project has the opportunity to disseminate the acquired knowledge and skills among the civil society. For example, the project experts in the field of legislation, who are also lawyers of the NGO “Bosfor”, provided free and high-quality advice to nearly 800 people in the field of sustainable agriculture and agricultural production management.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that a dialogue with participation of representatives of relevant departments of the agro-industrial sector provides an opportunity to prioritize and highlight the urgent need to strengthen the commitment to address climate issues to reduce climate vulnerability, increase productivity and make a contribution to the sustainable development of the regions.

The project's approach to enhancing institutional capacity for adaptation focuses on practical tools and principles for land and water management. Also, more competent planning, monitoring and budgeting at the local level contributes to strengthening of national capacity, improving climate risk management, adaptation mechanisms and increasing resilience across the country.

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