ASTANA – A Eurasian Media Forum panel of experts and senior government officials discussed on April 25 what kind of green, or renewable energy initiatives are needed in Kazakhstan and the region.
Nurlan Kapparov, the Kazakhstan minister of environmental protection, outlined the government’s plans to educate the public about the issue. He said the examples of other countries in the developed world were being studied. Programmes would be developed to teach children ecological awareness in their schools and advertising campaigns, especially on television, would be launched.
“It is necessary to change the perception of people to a more ecological way of life,” Kapparov said. “First, we know that we will lack sufficient water resources in the future, so we need to close this deficit somehow. Second, we need a sustainable agricultural sector. Today, the agricultural sector inefficiently uses the resources of our land.”
“Third, we need to work in our energy sector, in particular generating electricity, for domestic demand, to develop renewable energy resources to eventually replace coal, hydroelectric power and gas, in order to make a transition to the green path, we need to develop renewable energy resources, in this transition, the use of natural gas plays the role of a bridge.”
Kanat Baigarin, director of development at Nazarbayev University, told the conference: “It is necessary to set the direction within the programme in order to achieve the set goals of the 2020 initiative.”
Maira Salykova, president of the Central Asian Foundation for Systemic Research from Moscow, said the green programme was not being implemented for primarily economic reasons. It was being implemented for the needs of the people.
“It is necessary to work with the perception of our people in achieving the set goals within the green programmes,” she said. “The government needs to work actively with the relevant parties, the media, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in this direction. Let us take the example of Singapore where the ban on throwing out garbage is strictly enforced with quite harsh penalties, but they work.”
“I believe it is necessary to define achievable goals, ambitions and milestones in carrying out this programme,” Robert Seiter, an expert in clean technology for emerging markets for the Ernst & Young Company said.
The panel also discussed the costs of implementing the new sustainable energy and ecological programmes.
Aurelia Bouchez, the European Union ambassador to Kazakhstan, told the conference that these initiatives need not be expensive. “It is needed to involve all citizens of the country in the ecological way of life. But this does not require any great expenditures,” she said.
Environmental Minister Kapparov told the conference the government would need to set aside a small but significant percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year to finance the transition to a green economy.
“This is a kind of investment project. It will justify all the assets allocated for its implementation,” the minister said. “We plan to open garbage recycling plant in every major city, perhaps even two each for bigger cities such as Almaty and Astana.”
“We are currently calculating the percentage of assets allocated for the transition process to the ‘green economy, but I can say, that, for example, in China they invest 1.5 percent of GDP in the project and South Korea invests about 2.2 percent,” Kapparov said. Earlier this month he said Kazakhstan would probably settle on a figure of one percent of its GDP for the development of green economy technologies.
“I believe that half of the investments allocated for the project should be from private sources,” he said. “We have a favourable climate for foreign investors. We have amended the law regulating investments so that it will guarantee payback for companies involved in these initiatives. Currently, a new draft law is under consideration. In it, we followed the example of similar legislation in Germany.”
Seiter of Ernst & Young said investment security would be required for companies participating in the process.
Baigarin from Nazarbayev University said the holding of EXPO 2017 in Astana would give an important boost to the new green and sustainable energy initiatives in the country and play a major role in raising public awareness about them.
Kapparov said EXPO 2017 would play a critical role in promoting support and understanding for green economy initiatives not only in Kazakhstan but throughout Central Asia.
“When it was first decided to hold EXPO 2017 in Kazakhstan, we were very proud for our country,” he said. “However, the EXPO has a much wider significance: It will generate a major drive towards achieving our goals for the green economy and give us a showcase to present to the world what we have achieved in this direction.”
“The whole region of Central Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States will learn from the EXPO how to implement the green economy,” the minister said. “All those countries need to introduce green economic policies. We will show them how to do so, and we will help them do it. Kazakhstan will be an example