a case for people-to-people diplomacy

If you ask American ambassadors what resources and program they cannot do without, almost every single one will answer, “Our exchange programs that provide people-to-people experiences”.

Encouraging people-to-people programmes is an important part of diplomacy for any country, and certainly for the United States. That is because diplomacy is not just about providing visas for travellers, not just about passing messages from government to government: it is also about building enduring links between two nations. And, ultimately, that is what is most important because it allows two nations to have a strong foundation for collaboration, even when their government relations might go through rough patches.

On the U.S. side, these include educational and cultural exchange programmes and, probably most important, U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) that identifies younger and mid-level experts in their fields and provides them with an intense programme in the United States to meet and develop enduring relationships with their counterparts. IVLP participants have become leaders in their fields later in life, and a good number have become heads of government and heads of state in their home countries.

I know that Kazakhstan thoroughly understands this concept and has made it a fundamental part of its own government policy from the beginning of its independence. I am referring to the Bolashak Programme that has played a terribly important role in setting Kazakhstan apart from its neighbours and that has played a central role in putting Kazakhstan on the world stage.

Long-time Kazakhstan watchers must certainly recall that at independence President Nazarbayev said that if Kazakhstan is to be truly independent, it will need a new generation that thinks differently from the past. To implement that broad vision, he created Bolashak. I am very grateful that the government of Kazakhstan chose the United States as one of the principle venues for educating its young people to become the future leaders of their newly independent nation.

Today, throughout Kazakhstan, one can walk into almost any government and private-sector office, and meet young Kazakhs who understand the world in a way that allows them to do the daily business of life that consistently moves their nation forward. That is a huge achievement, and I sincerely salute President Nazarbayev for his far-reaching vision.

There is another, slightly different perspective to the importance of the people-to-people exchanges. As diplomats, yes, we do spend time passing messages between our governments, working together for mutual goals, and actually getting things done that matter. But we can only do that effectively if we have already built solid relationships of trust and respect with our mutual counterparts.

There are two examples of people-to-people relationships between Kazakhs and Americans that came to fruition during my tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan that have actually led to a better world.

The first example I would cite is our scientific and technical experts working together to create the Central Reference Laboratory in Almaty that is playing a crucial role to ensure that biological pathogens are securely contained so that they can never be used as weapons of mass destruction. This took many years of working together and slowly building trust with each other, but both Kazakhstan and the United States got it accomplished. This is indeed an enormously successful scientific programme that has truly important humanitarian goals.

The second example of our experts working together is even more important – the clean-up of the Soviet-era BN-350 nuclear reactor on the Caspian coast that eventually led to permanently securing, locking down on the remote steppe outside Kurchatov, enough plutonium and highly-enriched uranium that could have made 775 nuclear weapons. Related to this is the collaboration of our experts to clean up the former nuclear-weapons test site at Degelen Mountain to prevent the contaminated remnants of Soviet-era nuclear tests from falling into terrorists hands.

Neither of these hugely important projects could have been accomplished without the trust that builds slowly, day to day, as a result of people-to-people relationships.

As Kazakhstan marks a quarter-century anniversary of its foreign service, I am pleased to join in the celebrations. In my tenure in Astana and career at the State Department, I have seen the dedication of its diplomats and their commitment to the aims and values of the country’s foreign policy.

To the new generation of diplomats in both countries, I say this: people-to-people relationships are the absolute core of diplomacy. It’s not documents and talking points that get things done. In the end, the only thing that matters is people-to-people relationships.

The author is former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan who currently serves as U.S. Co-Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group for Nagorno-Karabakh.



Surge in Diplomacy, Action in Mediation

The fourth edition of the Istanbul Conference on Mediation will take place on June 30 with the theme of “Surge in Diplomacy, Action in Mediation.” Experts, diplomats, practitioners and scholars from around the world will explore ways and means to promote mediation as a prominent conflict prevention and resolution method.

The profile of mediation has been rising globally since Turkey and Finland led the way at the United Nations through the “Mediation for Peace” initiative. The initiative culminated in the establishment of the Group of Friends of Mediation. The Group now has 53 members, including 48 states and 5 international organizations. There has also been substantial improvement in international capacity for preventive diplomacy and mediation within the UN, regional and sub-regional organizations and civil society.

The Group has become the leading platform at the UN to promote mediation. It has initiated the adoption of four UN General Assembly Resolutions, which lay the ground for the development of the normative and conceptual framework of mediation. The Group has also contributed to the 2012 “United Nations Guidance for Effective Mediation,” a fundamental document for those who practice and study mediation worldwide.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed his willingness to further develop UN’s mediation support capacity. His efforts are most commendable. We call on all UN member states to support UN Secretary General Guterres’ broad vision and efforts to prevent and solve today’s conflicts.

Turkey has been doing her part. Turkey is situated next to a vast region where acute active and frozen conflicts persist. Prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts is a central feature of Turkey’s enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy. Turkey undertakes various efforts in a wide geography from Africa to the Middle East, the Balkans and the Caucasus. She sees peacemaking in a humanitarian-development nexus. This year, Turkey has again become the most generous nation in the world in terms of per capita humanitarian assistance.

Turkey has been hosting the Istanbul Conferences on Mediation since 2012. These landmark conferences are designed to bring together numerous practitioners and scholars in the field of conflict prevention and mediation activities. The aim of these conferences is to promote synergies between theory and practice and help increase scope, reach and effectiveness of the international community’s mediation efforts. I must pay tribute to the efforts of mediators engaging daily in conflicts worldwide.

This year the Conference will explore how mediation methodology and practice can take better account of the needs of the day. In this regard, two questions in particular would be scrutinized. One is the potential of mediation in all stages of a conflict continuum, namely from prevention to resolution and all the way to peace agreement implementation. The second key question would be the models for greater employment of mediation as a preventive tool in contexts where political, ethnic, religious biases create an environment of hostility.

The latter is especially pertinent since we have come to sadly witness extreme tendencies in various forms of political, social and religious animosities. The rise in attacks in Europe against Muslims and migrants is a case in point. Prevention is key. However, prevention would be possible only when societies recognize and learn to respect differences and engage in genuine dialogue and interaction. I believe that mediators who are well-equipped with the cultural codes of conduct in a given conflict situation can reach remarkable success. For that, we need to train more mediators including at youth while encouraging more women mediators and equip them with the right tools.

Our challenges to make peace the overwhelming reality on a global level are immense. However, we should be able to see the opportunities within those challenges. The readiness and willingness of the international community to build capacity in peaceful resolution of conflicts including mediation must be a priority. As we prepare to welcome participants of the Fourth Istanbul Mediation Conference, I call on the international community to take action in mediation.


The author is Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey.




the world is no longer in the dark

There can be no development without energy. Energy allows hospitals to function, helps children study at night, irrigates cropland and powers the global internet.

Energy is vital and essential to realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 17 internationally-agreed goals to eliminate poverty, protect the planet and leave no one behind by 2030.

Yet around the world, 1.3 billion people lack access to energy. The places where power is lacking are immediately visible on night-time satellite images. These include 300 million people in India, more than 600 million in Sub-Saharan Africa. These include places such as Tajikistan where the cover is much higher but power cuts are all too frequent.

And the energy we use is from far too many sources that contribute to climate change, like coal, gas and oil. Last year was, again, the hottest year on record. Thus, tackling climate change and boosting energy access are inextricably linked.

But high costs, lack of knowledge and unfavourable business environments have stymied efforts to build up renewables such as solar, wind, small hydro, geothermal, and biomass, and achieve a broader shift towards energy efficiency. In order to boost those kinds of energy, countries and businesses face important upfront investments.

That has been changing rapidly. Last year, solar power across the world grew 50 per cent, with China and the United States in the lead, while in India solar is now cheaper than coal.

Not only have 195 countries signed up to the Paris Agreement, it is also encouraging to see that local actors are leading the global shift to sustainable energy. In 2016, cities came together and founded the Global Compact of Mayors. 650 cities, representing 487 million people worldwide, are now pushing aggressively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through cleaner energy and transport.

Major oil producers are also seeing the future and diversifying their economies. One of the world’s largest coal, oil and gas producers, Kazakhstan, the host of the EXPO 2017, themed “Future Energy”, says it will aim to meet 50 percent of its energy needs from alternative and renewable sources by the middle of the century.

If right now, Kazakhstan decided to create a 10MW installation in the South, which might cost something like US$2million in upstart investment, it could recover these costs within 5 years. Meanwhile, energy efficiency upgrades, in residential and public buildings, have consistently delivered huge social, environmental and economic benefits. They have bolstered energy security, created jobs and reduced poverty, but also improved health and reduced emissions dramatically.

In cooperation with the UN, Kazakhstan has already achieved a 45 percent annual reduction in energy consumption for heating pilot municipal buildings over the past five years.

So what will it take to achieve universal access to sustainable energy by 2030? How can the world needs to triple its investment in sustainable energy infrastructure per year, from around $400 billion now to $1.25 trillion by 2030, be met?

For one, business environments need to become much more conducive to achieving the transition. As a recent study shows, investing in “de-risking measures” and bringing down the financing costs of renewable energy will only be cost-effective when measured against paying direct financial incentives to compensate investors for higher risks.

Gradually eliminating fossil fuel subsidies will also play a major role in the transition. That will increase the market cost of fossil fuels and encourage producers and consumers to move away from carbon-intensive energy.

Finally, we must prioritise clean energy for the poor and make sure energy access becomes part of every development plan. It is the only way we will achieve SDG7 and the rest of the goals. Combining access to clean energy services with measures that generate cash incomes and improve living conditions, is a surefire way to accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in general.

At the EXPO, I have not only seen cutting-edge technology – such as solar atlases, installations that show how to power and irrigate oases, and smart grid systems – what I see above all is a tremendous amount of determination to make access to clean energy for everyone on this planet a reality.

The author is UN Commissioner-General at the Expo 2017 in Astana.



New Astana-Delhi flight will assist Astana’s development as transit hub in centre of Eurasia

“India had never been a far-off country for the Kazakh people. Historical and geographic proximity gave us the opportunity to closely follow events in the Indian peninsula and democratic transformations taking place there found a vivid response in the hearts of the people of Kazakhstan”

(Nursultan Nazarbayev, Delhi,

February 1992)

I am very glad to note that we managed to agree on opening a direct flight between the capitals of our two countries during the significant year of celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Kazakh-Indian diplomatic relations.

Starting July 2, Air Astana will operate a direct Astana-Delhi flight three times a week to complement the already existing Almaty-Delhi daily flights. The activities establishing the flight were carried out in accordance with the Plan of the Nation – 100 Concrete Steps to implement the Five Institutional Reforms proposed by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. In particular, it will help develop Air Astana into a major international operator; turn Astana into Eurasia’s business, cultural and scientific centre; attract researchers, students, businesspersons and tourists from all over the region and provide international transport accessibility to the financial centre of Astana.

Relations between our countries and people are rooted in ancient times when migration took place from Eurasia to South Asia. This period is linked to the Indian ruler Kanishka, known in Kazakhstan’s history as Khan Yerke, and to the Scythians (Saks), who were known in India as Saka people. In the middle ages, our people and cultures were linked during the times of such historic personalities as Qutubuddin Aibak, Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, Amir Timur, Babur and Muhammed Haider Dughlat. In modern times, even before Kazakhstan attained independence, the links between our countries were manifested through the love of Kazakh people for Indian culture and through the visit of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi to Kazakhstan in 1955.

Twenty-five years is a very small period considering the centuries-old history of our relations. However, representatives of both countries generally agree that over these 25 years, our ties of friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation have stood the test of time and our people have retained their warm relations.

India was the first country President Nazarbayev visited outside the post-Soviet area. He always maintained the path of practical improvement of mutually beneficial ties. He has visited India several times since Kazakhstan gained independence (in 1992, 1996, 2002 and 2009). Furthermore, the establishment of a strategic partnership was announced during his January 2009 visit as chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations. This also showed the sincerity of the two nations and people to strengthen partnership and open new cooperation vistas.

The fact that there are no problems in bilateral or multilateral cooperation between our countries is a matter of special pride and a great achievement. Effective political cooperation between our countries has been ensured due to the similarity of our positions on basic international issues. The leaders of the two countries make use of all the opportunities and multilateral platforms to exchange views on global and regional processes and develop cooperation. Undoubtedly, the foreign ministries of the two countries and their leadership are playing a major coordinating role in this multifaceted cooperation between Kazakhstan and India.

Such a high level of political cooperation is also a good base for developing mutually-beneficial trade and economic relations. Right now, Kazakhstan is India’s main trading partner in Central Asia and the second largest partner in the entire post-Soviet region. Despite that, the trade and economic cooperation does not match the potential and the capabilities of our countries.

It is my considered view that thanks to the political will, desire and clear understanding of the importance of developing cooperation between Kazakhstan and India as not only major countries but also leaders in their regions, the leadership of both countries wishes to do its best to strengthen friendship and stable partnership in all areas of cooperation.

When appointing me as Ambassador to India in November 2014, President Nazarbayev assigned me with a number of specific tasks for expanding partnership relations between our countries. I was tasked to strengthen strategic cooperation, take trade and economic relations to new heights and organise the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Kazakhstan for setting new aims to be achieved by our countries in the near future.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, the Kazakh Embassy in India has tried to do its best to achieve the tasks assigned by the President. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kazakhstan in July 2015, which made it possible to sign a number of important agreements. An investment roadmap that included 26 business projects was adopted and a contract for the supply of 5,000 tonnes of uranium to India was signed, as well as an agreement on defence and military-technical cooperation, etc.

Our strategic partnership has acquired a clearer shape. Kazakhstan’s intention to support India’s candidature for permanent membership on the UN Security Council is a testimony to the strong political ties between our countries. This was included in the joint statement at the end of President Nazarbayev’s 2002 visit to India. Of equal significance is India’s support for Kazakhstan’s membership on the UN Security Council for 2017-18, which was also included in the Tez Kadam joint statement during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Kazakhstan in July 2015.

Another confirmation of strong partnership is India’s serious approach to its participation in the EXPO 2017 international specialised exhibition. Despite the fact that India is not a member of the International Bureau of Expositions (BIE), it not only decided to take part in the expo because of the level of cooperation between our countries, but also made a request for a pavilion with the largest space.

Two of Kazakhstan’s honorary consulates have been opened: in Mumbai (for Maharashtra) in 2015 and in Chennai (for Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala) in 2017.

Over the past two years, the flow of Indian citizens to Kazakhstan has more than doubled from 5,000 to nearly 11,000 people. During the same period, the number of visitors from Kazakhstan to India increased almost threefold to 18,000 in 2016.

I am confident that the direct flight between the capitals along with the already successfully functioning Almaty-Delhi flight will contribute significantly to the implementation of President Nazarbayev’s vision, including increasing the number of foreign visitors to EXPO 2017 and making fuller use of the economic and investment potential of business representatives and tourists from India.


The author is Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to India.





What does the Riyadh summit mean for the world?

When the U.S. President Donald Trump arrived on an official visit to Riyadh on May 20, Saudi Arabia became the first country chosen by the American leader for a foreign trip as the U.S. President. It is generally considered that the choice of a Muslim state and the Middle East region – and Riyadh in the region – for the first foreign tour is unprecedented and is worth special attention.

Askar Nursha

This visit gained more weight in the international arena due to the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh as recognition of the strategic significance of the dialogue with the Muslim world in the U.S. foreign policy strategy and clear aspiration of the new U.S. administration to deepen interaction with Saudi Arabia as a major element of the American strategy in the Middle East.

Against the background of strong criticism regarding the Middle East policy of the previous administration, President Trump made several important statements during his presidential campaign that made experts talk about possible revision and review of U.S. foreign policy approaches in the region. Moreover, there were assumptions in the expert community that the U.S. could cut down its activity because of enhanced isolation trends in the American policy.

Criticism regarding Saudi Arabia in the American Congress have also had a negative influence on bilateral relations. In autumn 2016, the U.S. Congress overrode the veto of President Barack Obama on a bill providing families of those who had died in the Sept. 11 attacks with the right to file a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia. These jeopardised bilateral relations since official Riyadh, in turn, threatened to apply retaliation measures impacting the American economy.

That is why Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia was expected first to clarify the situation regarding priorities and focuses the American administration plans to attach in relations with countries of the region. From this perspective, Trump’s visit and agreements reached during the trip sent an important signal expected in Riyadh and a message to the power circles of Saudi Arabia and its neighbours regarding the maintenance of the strategic partnership course in the U.S.

To give a new impetus to relations with the U.S., the King of Saudi Arabia, in turn, appointed his son Prince Khaled bin Salman bin Abdulaziz as Ambassador to the U.S. The fact that the new ambassador used to be a pilot in the Saudi Arabian Air Force and participated in operations against the Daesh terrorist group also speaks about the direction of the development of bilateral relations.

Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia is being compared with the Cairo speech his predecessor made in June 2009. Both speeches are considered to be milestone statements to the Muslim world. However, it should be noted that Obama’s speech in Cairo did not meet expectations in the Muslim world. This resulted from, among others, many reasonable causes and processes that were beyond the control or influence of the previous administration. They included the Arab Spring developments leading to changes in political regimes in several key countries of the region. They also included further destabilisation in the Middle East and growth of terrorism and religious extremism. They included the crisis in Syria. All these factors led to a growth of criticism towards U.S. actions in the Middle East and North Africa and weariness of the American society from military activities in the region and the burden of war expenditure in the country’s budget. As a result, appeals for leaving the region became more frequent in the U.S.

The anti-Iran direction in the Trump’s speech is at odds with Obama’s course, so the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have more in common here as well.

The outcomes of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia are an important indicator that pragmatism has prevailed in the new administration’s policy and that the U.S. will not be able to keep away from the Middle Eat processes.

It is obvious that this is for the better. Since the U.S. withdrawal, due to its huge involvement, can cause destabilisation leading to a vacuum of force.

At the same time, countries of the region themselves should bear greater responsibility for keeping regional security and fighting terrorism within their states. The U.S., in turn, as Trump’s speech shows, is ready to help them in this direction making partnership in counteracting terrorism one of the cornerstones of interaction with countries of the region.

It seems that the Muslim world will appreciate the idea expressed in Trump’s speech that victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim and the U.S. is not going to “lecture” and “tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship.”

It is apparent that the fight against terrorism in the region is impossible without broad interaction between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The biggest arms deal in the recent history of two countries shows that the U.S. is on the way towards deepening relations with Saudi Arabia in the military and political sphere and this cooperation is aimed at, at least, Trump’s presidential term.

Trump brings to the U.S. not only the arms deal but also a stability of jobs and new ones for American workers that will be interpreted by Washington and presented to the American electorate as another achievement of the administration aimed at the protection of national interests of the country.

On the margins of the summit, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with Trump to discuss bilateral cooperation. The fact that they met despite the busy schedule of the summit attests to a mutual interest in contacts between the two countries. This meeting is important in the development of bilateral relations.


The author is PhD in History, Chief of the Almaty Office of the Institute of World Economy and Politics under the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.



Modernisation of Kazakhstan’s identity: view from Singapore

Few countries can match the scale and speed of institutional reforms in Kazakhstan. In the last four years, we have seen the roll out of the Kazakhstan 2050 strategy, the Five Institutional Reforms, anti-corruption measures and the recent Constitutional reforms and plans to decentralise powers.

Kishore Mahbubani

As part of this national modernisation effort, the Kazakh President is also paying attention to the “software” of the country – the culture, norms and values of the Kazakh people. This is an important effort because the success of a country depends not just on the dynamism and competitiveness of its economy, but also on the cohesion and trust of its people.

It is, therefore, encouraging to see the President emphasising the value of pragmatism and realism, an open and welcoming attitude to the world, the importance of education and evolutionary rather than revolutionary change. In this uncertain and volatile age, and at a time many countries seem to be turning inward, these qualities are invaluable. They will stand Kazakhstan in good stead in the coming decades as it strives to become one of the world’s top 30 economies.

In the last 25 years, Kazakhstan has made significant progress in its modernisation efforts. It deserves more international recognition for these efforts. But the international community has been slow to do this and ranking agencies have not always been fair to Kazakhstan. For example, despite Kazakhstan’s efforts, Transparency International still puts Kazakhstan in the same category as Nepal and many African countries. This ignores the substantial progress Kazakhstan has made in developing stronger, higher quality public institutions.

Changing culture is a multi-year, multi-decade enterprise. Unlike policy change, cultural change is not something that can be done in just a few years. And the place to start in changing culture and shaping norms and values is through education and investing in the youth of Kazakhstan. That is why, the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School is proud to be involved in Kazakhstan’s modernisation efforts – not just in economic and state modernisation – but also in shaping and inspiring the next generation of Kazakhstan’s leaders through our partnership with Nazarbayev University and especially its Graduate School of Public Policy.


The author is Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.



Volunteerism creating a stronger people power in Kazakhstan

What is the richness of a nation? – Its people.

It couldn’t be truer for Kazakhstan where this saying resonates loud and clear.

People the world over volunteer to give back to society. The one billion and counting volunteers work to commit their time and skills to making people’s lives better.

Kazakhstan has evolved into a vibrant society since its independence almost three decades ago. Volunteerism is increasingly taking front stage – with people more aware and interested in pitching in for social and community work. And there is huge potential of coordinating volunteerism for development in Kazakhstan.

Volunteerism is not new to Kazakh society. United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and Kazakhstan have partnered since 1993 to make sustainable development a reality.

UNV has almost 7,000 volunteers around the world on the ground and almost 13,000 online volunteers serving with UN agencies, governments, private sector and civil society. UN Volunteers often work directly with vulnerable groups at the grassroots level.

There are 22 UN Volunteers serving in Kazakhstan and around the world in peace and development initiatives. From capacity building to gender equality, from advocacy of sustainable cities to climate action, UN Volunteers work along with local communities.

Kazakh UN Volunteers are working in Kyzylorda region to implement sustainable waste management and reduce inequalities for persons with disabilities. And they also create awareness of low carbon consumption and reduction of emissions especially among the youth in the southern town of Taraz.

Acutely aware of the local surge in volunteering, UNV commends the Government’s initiative to mainstream volunteerism through a regulated Law on Volunteering Activity. The new law signed this year allows further opportunities for academia to involve youth in high profile events.

Likewise, embedding more Kazakh UN Volunteers to serve in developing countries and enhance development impact will further strengthen the country’s footprint in international development cooperation. Presently 22 Kazakh UN Volunteers serve in Malawi, Mozambique, Ukraine and their home country.

At the Expo 2017 – Future Energy in June there will be a large-scale mobilization of some three thousand volunteers. UN Volunteers will provide expertise in coordinating the university volunteers.

United Nations Volunteers applauds the many women and men of Kazakhstan.

The people are the real wealth of Kazakhstan creating a culture of selfless giving, of volunteerism.

The author is Deputy Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.



UN Central Asia regional centre’s goal is to help build trust, its head says

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the UN Regional centre for preventive diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) in Ashgabat. In an interview with this newspaper, Petko Draganov, Head of UNRCCA and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, discusses the achievements so far and the goals for the future.

Please tell us about the history and objectives of the Centre.

The UNRCCA in Ashgabat was established by exchange of letters between the UN Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council in May 2007. UNRCCA was the first political mission of the UN with a mandate focused solely on preventive diplomacy.

The main objective of the Centre is to assist Central Asian states in finding solutions to potentially contentious regional issues. The activities of the Centre are implemented based on the mandate and three-year programmes developed in close consultation with the countries of Central Asia. For the period of 2015-2017 our priorities have been identified as 1) transnational threats and challenges; 2) management of shared natural resources; 3) internal factors affecting regional stability; and 4) the establishment of national/regional capacity for conflict prevention.

Compared to other UN missions, our centre is smaller in scale, with a minimal budget and limited staff. The main part of our mission’s activities is funded by extra budgetary sources. At the same time, the geographical area of responsibility covered by UNRCCA is broad; it includes five states. Therefore, compared to most missions, which as a rule cover a single country, all our efforts must be multiplied at least by five. In light of this, the Centre is one of the most effective agencies of the UN in terms of resources/results ratio.

In 2017, it will be 10 years since the establishment of UNRCCA. Could you point out the main achievements of the UNRCCA over this period?

If we were to speak of definite results of our work over the past 10 years, we probably need to start with the fact that throughout this time there were no major inter-state conflicts in Central Asia. This, of course, is the merit of the states themselves, but partially, there is our credit as well.

Primarily, the Centre has provided governments a platform for dialogue on the most difficult regional issues: trans-boundary water management, countering security threats, strengthening of stability, development of regional cooperation. The Centre provided good office for preventing and responding to emerging problems that are threatening internal stability of individual countries and the entire region.

In the process of monitoring the situation, we have accumulated considerable analytical potential. We provide information support to the governing structures of the UN with the aim of making and implementing effective and timely solutions. Twice a year I speak at the Security Council with progress reports and analysis of the regional situation. The proposals that we coordinate with the countries are communicated to the members of the Security Council and receive international attention. To further raise the global awareness of the concerns in Central Asia, the Centre has initiated several visits of the UN Secretary-General to all five Central Asian states. In the near future, the newly elected Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also visit Central Asia. This is evidence of the great attention paid by the leadership of the United Nations to the region and of willingness to assist in solving the existing issues.

Over the years, we have organised dozens of international workshops and round tables on topical issues of regional security and have trained more than 1,000 specialists in various fields of preventive diplomacy. There were hundreds of rounds of talks in the capitals of Central Asian states and in other countries, aimed at contributing to overcome differences and establishing rapprochement.

At times, we are told: “Your work is all talk, give us concrete results: roads, equipment, infrastructure, financial support, etc.” Diplomats hear such reproaches often. I can remind the known phrase: while diplomats speak, guns are silent. Questions of social and economic development are, after all, the area of responsibility of the states themselves. The main purpose of the Centre is to build trust between countries, which will create favourable conditions for comprehensive cooperation, including in the trade-economic sphere. Certainly, results of such work will not be visible at once; however, we note positive tendencies. We particularly welcome and support the efforts of countries aimed at facilitating customs and other administrative barriers to trade.

The signing of a number of documents regulating collaboration with our partners in the region and outlining strategies for future action can be considered concrete results of our work. I would like to especially note the Joint Plan for the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, approved by high representatives of Central Asian countries in November 2011 in Ashgabat. The plan pays considerable attention to the humanitarian aspects of preventive diplomacy, noting the need for an integrated approach addressing the problems of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation of the population in order to eliminate the root causes of these threats, while respecting basic human rights and freedoms of the individual. This was the first practice in the world of adapting the global counter-terrorism strategy to a specific region. It served as an example for countries in other parts of the world. In the course of the implementation of the plan, considerable experience has been accumulated, which we plan to discuss at a ministerial conference on June 13 this year in Ashgabat.

Another specific example of UN preventive diplomacy were the events in Kyrgyzstan that occurred in 2010. Since the change of government in Bishkek in April 2010, UNRCCA has been monitoring the political situation in the country with a view to early warning of the interim government and the international community about the existing risks. Unfortunately, law enforcement has been unable to prevent the outbreak of ethnic violence in the South of the country. In this situation, the efforts of the Centre were focused on the support of the authorities in post-conflict recovery and national reconciliation. The transition period has been completed peacefully by the formation of a legitimate government, as a result of free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections. At the same time, according to our analysis, not all the causes of ethnic tensions are eliminated. Further work is needed to improve inter-ethnic relations.

 The Centre has proposed a number of initiatives in the field of trans-boundary water management. What has been accomplished on this issue?

In 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS) was signed at the UNRCCA headquarters in Ashgabat on the development of a mechanism for monitoring and preventing threats to the environment in the Aral Sea Basin. Based on this document, the Centre cooperates with the EC IFAS in terms of information exchange, enhancing the potential of its employees, assistance in mobilizing international support in the implementation of Programmes in the Aral Sea Basin (ASBP) and a number of other issues. Currently UNRCCA is in contact with the Turkmen presidency of the EC IFAS on the development of a regional water strategy. The Centre also collaborates with UNESCO in the study of the problems of melting high-altitude glaciers and its impact on national and trans-boundary water systems, as well as the creation of an appropriate system for the exchange of information and knowledge.

In cooperation with the Scientific-information centre of Interstate coordination water Commission (SIC ICWC), the Centre develops an early warning mechanism for potentially problematic situations on Trans-boundary Rivers. We are currently preparing and distributing early warning quarterly Bulletins based on an agreed set of pointers.

For several years now, we have been working with the Central Asian states to create a legal mechanism for an integrated solution of the region’s water and energy problems. As a result of several years of negotiations, in March 2017, the Centre sent to governments a renewed proposal to develop agreements on the use of water resources in the Amudarya and Syrdarya river basins. The proposed projects are aimed to help countries create a clear legal mechanism for managing trans-boundary water resources while taking into account the interests of all parties, equal significance of various types of water use, rationality and justice. Projects also propose the creation of a multi-stage dispute resolution mechanism. I have already held the first round of talks in the capitals of the Central Asian States and confirmed the readiness of most of them to negotiate on this issue.

As you know, security in Central Asia is affected by external factors, in particular, originating from Afghanistan. What does the Centre do to counter external threats?

Many threats of safety of countries of Central Asia have an external origin. In this connection, we monitor development of events in adjacent Afghanistan, in Syria and Iraq, from the outlook of their influence on the region.

Concerning Afghanistan, my staff and I regularly visit the country for meetings with government representatives and other partners to learn the information first-hand and to assess the situation on the spot. The Centre maintains close contacts with the UN Mission for assistance to Afghanistan (UNAMA) to ensure a comprehensive analysis of the situation in the region.

We involve representatives of Afghanistan in our events. A few dozen Afghan civil servants attended our courses on capacity building in various fields of preventive diplomacy. This is our contribution to strengthening trust between Central Asian states and Afghanistan and in changing the perception of this country in the eyes of the peoples of Central Asia. Our goal is not only to help in early warning of potential cross-border risks, but also to pay attention to the opportunities for cooperation that are emerging. In this regard, I am pleased to note the development of relations between Central Asian countries and Afghanistan, in various formats, for the further involvement of the latter in regional cooperation mechanisms. The construction of the gas pipeline Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI), the transmission line Central Asia – South Asia (CASA-1000), planned railways and roads will contribute not only to stabilizing Afghanistan, but also to the development of Central Asian countries themselves.

In conclusion, what are your forecasts regarding the development of regional relations and what is necessary for a more successful UN preventive diplomacy in Central Asia?

Perhaps, I will start with the second part of the question. As you are aware, the main purpose of the mandate of UNRCCA is to assist countries in maintaining regional peace and stability, which are of special importance to national security, and is within the sovereign authority of States. Therefore, the effectiveness of the work of UNRCCA is determined by the political will of governments to cooperate with each other and seek solutions to common problems. The Centre is making efforts to mobilise such political will to respond to the challenges and threats to regional security and stability. At the same time, the character of a famous movie tells us: “The East is a delicate matter.” The countries of the region follow their own development paths, and each has its own distinctive features and national interests. The Centre must take into account these dynamics.

Concerning forecasts, in my opinion, one can rightfully state that within 10 years, conditions for the successful implementation of preventive diplomacy in the region have been created. For numerous existing problems, solutions are outlined. Recently, we note the positive trends in regional relations, and this gives us reason to look to the future with a certain degree of optimism. For its part, the Regional Centre will continue to operate in accordance with the motto under which we celebrate our tenth anniversary: “​To promote dialogue – to prevent conflicts.”



Kazakhstan’s spiritual renewal will be supported by all society, scholar believes

ALMATY – Culture and spirituality are the life of the people, their mind and heart, their past, present and future, says Kazakh National Academy of Science corresponding member and Mukhtar Auezov Institute of Literature and Art Director Ualikhan Kalizhanov.

In his article “Course towards the future: modernisation of Kazakhstan’s identity,” President Nursultan Nazarbayev has outlined ambitious tasks for scientists, cultural figures and intellectuals.

Modernisation of public consciousness will become the core of the ongoing political and economic transformations. In Kazakhstan, the cultural and spiritual heritage of the people is systematically studied and promoted.

Since 2004, the state Madeni Mura (Cultural Heritage) programme has allowed, in particular, to return the manuscript collections of literary heritage, published in the 19th-20th centuries in the Arabic, Latin and Old Turkic alphabets, the texts of folklore that had not been published earlier. Only scientists understand the efforts spent to study the texts, restore the names of religious and historical personalities, tale-tellers, copyists and folklorists, clarify geographical names, compose various versions of texts and write scientific opinions and explanations for the unique corpus of Kazakh folklore “Babalar Sozi” in 100 volumes. I was a witness and participant in the preparation of the last 20 volumes of this project; I lived each one through my heart. This publication will make a significant contribution to the renewal of national consciousness, spirit and culture.

The Great Steppe survived both the times of great prosperity and the burden of turbulent times. Al-Farabi, Mahmud al-Kashgari, Balasaguni, Al-Khorezmi, Ibn-Sina, Yassawi and Ulykbek, who lived in different epochs, have made an invaluable contribution to the development of world civilisation. The works of the geniuses of the steppe gave impetus to the Renaissance in Europe. Today, the names of Navoi, Nizami, Magtumguli, Abai, Nazim Hikmet, Gabdulla Tukay, Chingiz Aitmatov, Abdi-Zhamil Nurpeissov and many other poets and writers became symbols of Turkic literature. Their heritage still continues to be studied.

The golden age of studying Kazakh literature is associated with the period of independence. What projects are implemented by your institute?

There is great importance of folklore, literature and art in the development of modern national consciousness. Thus, the publication of the classic works of Kazakh scholars of the past years enriched our science and was really embodied in the Gylymi Kazyna (Scholarly Wealth) project finished by the institute. It is important to show the way the ideas of independence were formed under conditions of sovereignty, the way we overcame the obstacles of censorship and ideological dictate. In the series “Classical Studies,” the works of Russian scientists, Russian orientalists, folklorists and collectors of the musical heritage of the Kazakh people are returning to modernity; they are gaining new life.

Speaking about preserving the national identity, the President stressed: “Our national traditions and customs, language and music, literature and wedding ceremonies – in a word, the national spirit – must remain with us forever. Abai’s wisdom, Auezov’s pen, Zhambyl’s penetrating lines, the magic sounds of Kurmangazy and the eternal call of Aruah are only a part of our spiritual culture.” The “Anthology of Kazakh Music” in eight books, published first by the Institute within the framework of the Cultural Heritage programme under the management of Doctor of Art History Sarah Kuzembai, is an original dialogue with the past and a spiritual testament to descendants, the opening of new angles of the original centuries-long culture of the Kazakh people.

No modernisation can take place without preserving the national culture. “A special attitude towards our native land, its culture, customs and traditions is the most important feature of patriotism. This is the basis of the cultural and genetic code that makes any nation a nation and not a collection of individuals,” says Nazarbayev. The head of state also notes: “Even largely modernised societies contain codes of culture, the origins of which go back to the past. The first condition for a new type of modernisation is the preservation of its culture, its own national code.”

Could you please explain the meaning of the cultural code concept which is actively used nowadays?

The cultural code of the nation is the key to understanding this type of culture, since it incorporates unique cultural features that are transmitted from its ancestors. The cultural code defines the people’s psychology and consciousness. In world history, in accordance with the epoch, the state policy and the level of culture, the role of socio-cultural codes gets transformed, but they preserve their identity and national features.

The cultural code of the people of Kazakhstan is original and unique, as are the culture and literature of ethnic groups inhabiting our republic. The literary process of Kazakhstan at the present stage undoubtedly has a common unifying principle. In the first half of the 1990s Kazakhstan experienced a literary boom, the creative activity of poets and writers became more active. Newspapers started publishing in Kazakh, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, English, German, Korean, Uzbek, Uighur, Turkish and other languages. Theatre and music performances appeared on the stages of national theatres; ethnic schools started functioning in places of compact residence of ethnic minorities.

The cultural code of the people of Kazakhstan is reflected in contemporary literature and art. Kazakhstan is a common motherland for everyone who lives in this land. The authors of works, regardless of nationality, are characterised by a very personal, emotional attitude to their homeland. The artistic concept of “My Kazakhstan” in a number of ethnic literatures is reflected as the Eurasian cultural and aesthetic mentality.

Literature continues to play an important role in the development of modern national identity. The newest literature of Kazakhstan is distinguished by the variety of topics, the richness of poetics and style. The national literature of the sovereign republic over the past 25 years has been enriched with significant poetic and prosaic works in which the preservation of national identity, the importance of historical continuity and ethnic memory are revealed through the strengthening of ethnic motives. The authors of the monographs “Literature of the People of Kazakhstan” and “Modern Literature of the People of Kazakhstan examined the national literature of the republic as a single community.

In general, the study of the cultural code of the people of Kazakhstan remains one of the key moments in understanding the essence of a particular person and nation in the new millennium.

The President proposed launching a project called “Modern Kazakh culture in the global world.” The Institute of Literature and Art has experience cooperating with translators and publishing works of Kazakh cultural heritage abroad. What has already been done in this direction?

Through the initiative of a number of diplomatic missions of Kazakhstan, the embassies in Turkey and Poland published “Kunge Ushkan Sunkar” in the Turkish and Kazakh languages and “Kyz Zhibek,” “Koblandy Batyr,” and Kazakh folk tales in Polish. In South Korea, in Korean and English, the epics “Kozy-Korpesh – Bayan-Sulu,” “Kyz Zhibek,” “Kambar Batyr” and fairy tales have been published.

In the Kasachiche Bibliothek series, works by Abai and prose by Mukhtar Auezov, Ilyas Esenberlin, Tahawi Akhtanov, Abish Kekilbayev, Moris Simashko, Gerold Belger, Valery Mikhailov and many other authors were published in German. Great assistance in helping the Kazakh embassy staff publish this series was provided by an old friend of our institute: publisher, writer and translator Leonhard Kossuth. It is thanks to him that Abai was first pronounced in German.

Abai’s poetic collections were published in Belarusian, translated by Mykola Metlitsky; in Polish, translated by Raissa Yukhnevich; and in Korean, translated by Kim Ben Hak. The institute has published a scientific collection, “Abai Kunanbayev’s Creativity in Foreign Presentations,” which demonstrates the popularity of the great Abai in different countries.

The institute promotes the best examples of modern national culture and literature to the rest of the world. With the support of the International Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the volumes “A Song is Singing Under the Dombra. Folklore and Literary Monuments of Kazakhstan,” “The Heavens Above My Head. Folklore and Literary Monuments of Kazakhstan,” and “Under the Sail of the Eternal Sky” were published in the Classic Literature of the CIS series. Editions were presented in the Sorbonne and in Vienna and Berlin, and transferred to the Sorbonne library. This will help European researchers get acquainted with the rich literary heritage of Kazakhstan and CIS countries.

The epic narrations of founder and first president of the Kazakhstan PEN Club Abdi-Zhamil Nurpeissov, “Blood and Sweat” and “Final Respects,” which address mankind’s actions in the 20th century, have been translated into 35 languages. New editions of “Final Respects” have been published in Russia, and now both books have been published in English. Well-known world newspapers The Washington Post and The New York Times both covered the publications. French literary critic Albert Fischler called the works of Nurpeissov “a great historical fresco” acquainting readers with the ancient and complex history of the Kazakh people.

Do the leading scientists of your institute study modern world literary trends?

Of course. In co-authorship with foreign literary scholars and critics, “Essays on World Literature at the Turn of the 20th and 21st Centuries” and “The Newest Foreign Literature and The World Literary Process of the 21st Century” were published.

The International Union of German Culture with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany in Moscow published the second edition of the anthology of German literature, “Der Misstrauischen Sonne Entgegen” (“Toward the Mistrustful Sun”). The works of Kazakh-German writers Rudolf Jacmien, Alexei Debolsky and Gerold Belger and articles about their work by well-known Kazakh literary critic and member of our institute Svetlana Ananiyeva were published there.

Tell us about well-received anthologies of modern Kazakh literature published in English.

The publication of the anthologies “The Stories of the Great Steppe” and “Summer Evening, Prairie Night, Land of Golden Wheat. The Outside World in Kazakh Literature” was a joint project of the Ministry of Education and Science, the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the United States, Columbia University and the Auezov Institute of Literature and Art. According to American scientists Robert Gutmann and Paul Michael Taylor, “The Stories of the Great Steppe” help readers take “an intellectual and literary journey to Kazakhstan” and open to the English-speaking reader “the new world of Central Asian literature – the diversity of culture and the multilingualism of Kazakhstan.” The book is used as a teaching aid in universities in the United States where Kazakhstan and Kazakh culture is studied.

Since ancient times, the nomads have developed their own specific vision of the relationship between man and nature. “Summer Evening, Prairie Night, Land of Golden Wheat. The Outside World in Kazakh Literature,” which includes works by 19th and 20th century authors, allows us to see how environmental issues have evolved and become better understood, and how the study of the problem of “man and nature” has developed. The reader finds in the works of Kazakh authors, from Abai to Olzhas Suleimenov and from Mukhtar Auezov to Satimzhan Sanbayev, pictures of the traditional way of life, historical events, landscape descriptions and so on.

The publication of the anthologies was an important milestone in advancing the achievements of Kazakh literature abroad, enhancing its international image. New translations of works by Kazakh authors have now become available to English-speaking readers.

Where did the presentation of these publications take place?

The anthologies were presented at the National Press Club in Washington, at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty, at Gumilyov Eurasian National University in Astana, and with the participation of the heads of diplomatic missions accredited in our country, at the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the United States and at the Permanent Mission Kazakhstan to the UN in Geneva.

I will also add that the collection “The World of Olzhas Suleimenov” was published in the framework of the ongoing scientific project “Kazakh-American Literary Cooperation of the Newest Age.” The collection of articles, reviews, responses, forewords to Suleimenov’s books published in foreign countries and interviews with the poet continues the series International Relations in Kazakh Literature and reveals Suleimenov’s creative role in Germany, Poland, Mongolia, the U.S., France, and South Korea. The presentation of this book was an event for the cultural life of the country and generated discussion abroad.

The authors of the new collective monograph “Kazakh-American Literary Links: Current State and Prospects” trace the transformation of the spiritual aspirations of writers and poets of the two countries. At the centre of the study of Russian and American literary critics is the newest period of Kazakh-American literary cooperation, the identification of trends and innovations in the system of contemporary literary and cultural contacts. The Auezov Institute of Literature and Art is developing the theme of the transformation of the American and Kazakh novel at the present stage.

Do you think Kazakhstan’s scientific and creative community is ready to implement the projects identified by the head of state?

Undoubtedly. This was also indicated by the previous fruitful activity of scientific organisations, theatres, creative universities, scientists, musicians, poets and writers … New projects, for sure, will be supported by all Kazakhs.

The President sees computer literacy and knowledge of foreign languages as a factor in the success of the nation in the 21st century. We will be known by our cultural achievements; that’s why the head of state includes competitiveness in the modern world of culture on the agenda for the next few years.

The spiritual renewal of our society, the unity of the people of Kazakhstan will contribute to the implementation of those global tasks.



Priorities of transition of Kazakhstan’s economy to low carbon development

A new climate treaty for the countries participating in the process, including for the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a universal strategy in addressing issues in the field of climate change and ensuring the sustainability of the national economy.

The prospect of a new agreement for economically weaker and vulnerable countries is connected to the possibility of obtaining substantial financial support both for adaptation to the negative effects and effects of nature, and for the transition to low-carbon development through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the decarbonisation of national economies.

For the most developed and rich countries, the agreement should allow them to optimise their financial and technological role in global efforts. For less developed countries, but with a large carbon potential, such as China, Brazil, Turkey, the financial component of the agreement is secondary, since international assistance will be relatively small or roughly equal to their assistance to weaker states. These countries depend significantly on the global trend for low-carbon development and, to a large extent, form it, especially China. If we are talking about the countries of the Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) region, then for the countries of the Caucasus and Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, the agreement should become a powerful factor of international support, and for Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan it should help to integrate into global investment processes and stimulate deep modernisation of the structure of the economy.

First, the planning of the development of energy and economy, taking into account the likely changes of 2020-2040. In many cases, this leads to a wait-and-see attitude in approving international and national projects, which, if the current situation continues, would be profitable.

Secondly, the implementation of the “price of carbon” (fees for emissions of greenhouse gases in either a stimulant or a burden) that is carried out or expected in the future, which shifts the competitiveness of various projects and trade flows. This is clearly demonstrated by the results of bilateral meetings of major emitters (China, the United States, the European Union and India).

Thirdly, a total trend on the choice of low-carbon solutions, if planning for 20-30 years of profitability, they are equal or not significantly more expensive than traditional ones. This is clearly confirmed when concluding partnerships and choosing investment options in almost all countries of the world, in public and private companies, in all sectors of the economy.

As already noted, at COP-21, each country presented its national commitments, which are a kind of launch in the policy of transition to low-carbon development and decarbonisation of the economy. At the Paris summit, the government delegation voiced Kazakhstan’s contribution to the retention of the growth rates of global climate change – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in the amount of 15 percent of the 1990 level as unconditional and 25 percent as a conditional target.

To achieve these goals in the field of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the government has to carry out systematic work on deep modernisation of the industrial sector and adaptation of all sectors of the economy, including energy, mining, forestry, housing, utilities, transport, construction and other sectors, to the existing climate change.

Without implementation of pilot projects to develop breakthrough low-carbon technologies in the next decade, it will be virtually impossible to contain the growth of the global average temperature by more than 20 °C. Today, a wide range of technologies exist in the world that successfully use a wide range of technologies to ensure economic growth while reducing emissions and improving the quality of the environment.

According to calculations carried out by international and national experts in substantiating Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), Kazakhstan has sufficient potential for introducing new technologies in the field of emission reduction. First, it is about human capital: an able-bodied, educated population (according to the latest UN report, 70percent of the total number). Secondly, the developed scientific and technical potential. Thirdly, alternative energy is actively developing in the country.

The potential of non-traditional renewable energy sources (RES) in Kazakhstan is 2 trillion KWh/year. Technically possible for use in the production of electricity, the potential is significantly higher than electricity consumption in the country and is about 337 billion kWh/year. Meanwhile, wind energy accounts for 322 billion kWh/year, solar energy – 4 billion kWh/year, small hydropower plants – 11 billion kWh/year. The technical potential of wind power alone in Kazakhstan exceeds by many times the consumption of all fuel and energy resources of the country.

The implementation of projects on the development of renewable energy will lead to a decrease in the volume of construction of new generating capacities using coal with a capacity of about 200 MW, and, accordingly, to a decrease in the prospect for CO2 emissions by at least one million tonnes per year. Here it should be noted that the main factor in the transition to a low-carbon economy is a reduction in the consumption/combustion of mineral fuel containing carbon. Based on the analysis of expert forecasts, it is revealed that dependence on mineral fuels (especially long-term contracts) will decrease significantly in the next 10-15 years; oil, gas, coal prices will be low and will not provide recovery of many energy projects, meanwhile the activity of companies supplying renewable energy technologies will increase dramatically.

Thus, the development of generating capacities based on renewable energy sources can be the most effective measure to reduce CO2 emissions in the electricity sector. This is one of the effective mechanisms for the transition to a green low-carbon economy in Kazakhstan.

The priority direction of achieving national INDCs is also the development of carbon trading. The practice of developed countries shows that the economic effect of carbon regulation reaches today hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars, including saving on the administration of the environmental system, energy saving, employment, improvement of quality of the environment and, in general, ensuring the sustainability of the national economy. This is an effective mechanism to stimulate measures to reduce emissions and attract green investment.

Kazakhstan has a significant carbon potential, which must be used in accordance with international standards for carbon financing. In 2013, the national carbon market was created. Today, the Ministry of Energy and the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan are working to improve the regulatory acts governing the national market for trade in greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, there is still a lot of expert work to determine the economic effect of the functioning of the national system of trade in quotas and the transition to the benchmark method in the quota process.

The next direction in achieving national goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to increase energy efficiency and energy saving in all sectors of the national economy. In this direction, it is necessary to improve energy efficiency standards and their implementation and subsidy programmes for enterprises implementing energy-efficient and energy-saving technologies.

The first step is the development of energy efficiency programmes in industrial companies. Activities in this area should include measures to improve the energy efficiency of buildings by electrification of the relevant processes and gasification of the heating system, the transfer of vehicles from internal combustion engines to electric, to encourage the transition from personal to public transport.

Forests of the country have a large potential for reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The absorption of CO2 by the forests gives the republic an additional 10 percent for national contributions to reduce emissions. In terms of physical volume, Kazakhstan occupies one of the leading places in the world in terms of forest resources. Meanwhile, relatively low specific volumes allow carrying out measures to increase this volume.

The implementation of national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions requires strengthening and developing cooperation with international organisations and global foundations – the World Bank, the European Union, OSCE, UNDP, Green Climate Fund, among others – to exchange and transfer knowledge, transfer low-carbon technologies and achieve new goals in the joint struggle to mitigate the effects of global climate change.

It is also necessary to develop ties and strengthen cooperation within the framework of regional organisations. In this regard, the potential of cooperation within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) should be used based on the similarity of economic potential and planning systems.

In general, the transition to low-carbon development and decarbonisation of the national economy of Kazakhstan assumes the adoption of cardinal measures in the following areas:

  • Improving the institutional framework (developing measures and policies for adapting the economic sectors to climate change, improving legislation in the field of greenhouse gas emissions regulation, etc.);
  • Increasing energy efficiency and introducing new technologies (introduction of low-carbon technologies in all sectors of the national economy, energy efficiency of buildings, transition to energy-saving products, alternative fuels);
  • Developing renewable energy sources;
  • Capacity building (enhancing the competencies of national experts and civil society in low-carbon development, developing cooperation with international organisations and global funds).

Today, work is under way to make additions to the approved action plan for limiting/reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, which should essentially become a plan to achieve INDCs.

As noted above, at the end of 2015 Kazakhstan submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15-25 percent by 2030 from the level of 1990. According to a special study conducted by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) Consortium, the obligations stated by Kazakhstan can be attributed to a moderate group. (As explained in more detail in the recent book by Green Academy “Strategy of transition of the Republic of Kazakhstan to low carbon development in globalisation”.)

This group includes the obligations of countries such as China, United States, the EU, Brazil, India, Mexico, Norway, Peru, and Switzerland. In accordance with a law on  ratification of the Paris Agreement experts and scientists and business structures have started  exploring  ways of implementing assumed obligations, to overcome possible risks, which, in turn, will require adoption of cardinal measures for the modernisation of all sectors of the national economy.

The fourth meeting of the Council on the transition to a green economy under the President of Kazakhstan, held in July 2016 in Astana with the participation of other government members, scientists, business structures, international organisations and NGOs was devoted to the discussion of these measures and mechanisms for the implementation of the new climate agreement. According to the participants of this meeting, in order to fulfil the declared commitments in the field of greenhouse gas emission reduction, it is necessary to develop an integral strategy for transition to low-carbon development, which provides for comprehensive measures to increase energy efficiency in all sectors of the economy of Kazakhstan, the development of renewable energy sources and the improvement of the national emission trading system (ETS).

Research conducted by Scientific Research and Education Centre Green Academy together with Institute of Economics and Samruk Energy  shows that the most effective technological solutions that ensure economic growth and reduce emissions include: transition to low-carbon or carbon-free fuels; decarbonsation of electricity production; electrification of the economy and individual industries (transport, construction); increasing the efficiency of production and consumption of energy; application of technologies for carbon capture and disposal; use of biofuel and other RES. A special role is assigned to the task of preserving and increasing the potential for CO2 absorption in forestry and land use.

Well thought-out ETS, whose action is currently suspended due to the amendments to the environmental code, can also bring significant additional economic and socio-environmental benefits. Among such advantages one can highlight the increase in the efficiency of resource use, clean air, ensuring energy security and creating jobs. Linking of two or more systems, including country, creates a larger carbon market that provides more opportunities (potentially more affordable) to reduce emissions. When ETS are connected, emission permits can be used in both systems.

        Currently, there are 19ETS in the world, of which the largest are the U.S., European and South Korean systems. In 2017-2018, the launch of the national ETS of China and the Russian Federation is expected. Already today, countries and regions where emissions trading systems are represented, make up 40 percent of world GDP, which makes emissions trading a key tool in combating climate change.

To summarise, Kazakhstan’s accession to the global climate agreement should be viewed as a new opportunity to modernise and diversify not only the energy sector but also another basic sector of the national economy. Only the transition to low carbon development will allow our  country entering the club of competitive countries and ensuring stability and improving the quality of life of present and future generations.


The author is a Member of the Green Council under the President of Kazakhstan and Director of the Green Academy, PhD, Professor of Economics.