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Accepted Paper:

The formation of regional environmental issues in Central Asia: an analysis of UNEP documents  
Tokhir Pallaev (University of Oslo)

Abstract:

This paper examines how regional environmental issues of the Central Asian states emerged and were developed in documents published by the UN Environment Program (UNEP). It will trace the evolution of dominating themes and narratives produced by this international institution and focus on how Central Asia as a region was gradually integrated into the knowledge framework of the organization and within the global environmental and development agenda. Studies focused on policies and activities of international institutions in Central Asian context have proven to be a useful source of insight in understanding the development of civil society, healthcare sector as well as broader power relations between local and international actors. Some scholars have already highlighted the important role of international development agencies in influencing and shaping environmental policy in the region. However, academic publications on environmental issues are still very underrepresented in Central Asia studies. This paper aims to address the gap given the historical and present significance of this topic for the countries that involves important questions around the legacy of environmental catastrophes left by Soviet projects as well as contemporary problems around the use of natural resources and the general course for economic development. Methodologically, this study will draw from the tools and concepts from science and technology studies (STS). There have already been successful attempts to use the academic lens of STS to study urban space mobility, space politics as well as environmental issues in the context of the region. More specifically this paper will draw from literature that studies practices of institutional knowledge production relying on tools and methodologies of document-analysis and other related studies focused on how environmental issues are shaped and adapted to new concerns and changing priorities of international and local policy. Simultaneously, this work aims to open Central Asia studies to novel academic approaches and tools offered by different interdisciplinary traditions that focus on knowledge-power relations and practices around production and control of discourses in institutions. Focusing on regional environmental projects will also help to position the region in relation to the global environmental and development agenda.

Panel PUB01
Legislating the Environment: Resource-Based Economies in the post-Soviet Period
  Session 1 Thursday 6 June, 2024, -