Rising temperatures, more variable precipitation patterns, continued melting of glaciers, and a potentially greater risk of extreme weather events such as floods and droughts are likely to significantly affect the region’s water resources, agriculture, natural resources, public health and, ultimately, its long-term prospects for sustainable development. The impact of projected climatic changes on the follow sectors could include (Akmuradov, 2006; International Fund for Agricultural Development [IFAD], 2009; Kayumov, 2008; Kyrgyzstan, 2010; Kazakhstan, 2009; Republic of Uzbekistan [ROU], 2008; United Nations Development Program [UNDP], 2009):
- Water resources: greater number of people experiencing water stress; reduced water quality; lower groundwater levels; reduced irrigation potential; and lower hydroelectric power production (a significant source of energy and economic development);
- Agriculture: reduced food production; increased drought risk in rain-fed farmlands; greater demand for irrigation while water flows decline; decreased availability of pasture lands; lower quality of fodder; increase in heat stress of animals; increased exposure to pests and diseases; and greater salinization of land;
- Natural resources: decline in biodiversity (particularly endemic species) due to pests, invasive species and habitat loss; increased fragmentation of arid forest ecosystems; loss of forest cover could exacerbate risk of mudslides and soil erosion; and greater risk of forest fires;
- Public health: increased occurrence of asthma and other respiratory diseases; potential change in patterns of malaria and other disease vectors; increase in heat-related cardiovascular disease; and greater risk of acute intestinal infections, parasitic diseases and of heat- and cold-related morbidity.