Central Asia has a fragile ecological environment. In particular, one of the most challenging environmental concerns in the region is the Aral Sea crisis. Despite the global attention received on the governance of the Aral Sea, the crisis remains unresolved. This article presents a novel conceptual framework and dynamic model for the governance of the Aral Sea. The authors suggest that a key aspect of agricultural modernisation in Central Asia should entail returning water to the Aral Sea to gradually ease the Aral Sea crisis. The authors argue that China's recent proposal to construct a Silk Road Economic Belt provides an opportunity for initiating effective water governance of the Aral Sea, as corroborated in their framework and model. The authors recommend the development of a "green Silk Road Economic Zone" as a cooperative and sustainable joint initiative of the countries concerned that would benefit Central Asia and China, as well as the Aral Sea.