Central Asia, EU Agree to Work Together on Green Bridge Initiative

ASTANA – Central Asian and European countries signed a Charter on Cooperation during a Sept. 30 international conference on Kazakhstan’s Green Bridge Partnership Programme held in Astana.

The new document will facilitate the collaborative efforts of Central Asian states and neighbouring countries to manage green economic growth in the region through cooperation, financial support, technologies transfer and knowledge management with the assistance of the international community and the private sector. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Environmental Protection organised the conference, which also addressed EXPO 2017, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The priorities of Astana’s Green Bridge initiative are multilateral partnerships; eco-efficient use of natural resources and investment in ecosystem services; low-carbon development and adaptation to climate change; the promotion of sustainable urban development, green business and green technologies; the promotion of sustainable living and quality of life; green construction; agriculture; new technologies in electricity, waste management and processing materials in a closed cycle; water resources management; water and waste water utilities; regional development and more. The main priorities of the Green Bridge initiative include sustainable use of water resources and the development of high-performance energy.

Heads of environmental agencies of the EU and Central Asian countries, representatives of international organisations and state bodies of Kazakhstan, as well as experts in the field of environmentally clean energy and green economic growth attended the conference. The main purpose of the meeting was the signing of the Charter on Cooperation .

In his speech at the conference, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Serik Akhmetov noted that the Green Bridge programme is open to anyone who can offer innovative technologies. According to Akhmetov, without a transition to a green economy, further progress is simply not possible.

“Therefore, we propose to take the next step: call upon our neighbours to join forces in a joint programme, a Green Bridge platform. The programme has ambitious goals: to increase energy efficiency [and] energy saving, introduce renewable energy and moisture saving technologies, to establish waste management,” Akhmetov said.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who paid an official visit to Kazakhstan on Sept. 30, also attended the conference and noted the readiness of his country to assist Kazakhstan in developing its green economy.

“Kazakhstan is committed to sustainable development, and I am confident that through our mutual exchange, the environment will play an increasingly important role. That is, the sector of the environment is an area where our companies are the most technologically advanced. They used the leading technologies in our country at the beginning, and then began to export them around the world, including to Kazakhstan, where our cooperation is very satisfactory, especially in the processing of municipal wastes,” Rajoy said. He also noted Kazakhstan’s enormous potential for developing a green economy.

“We are aware of the efforts that your country is making to modernise the economy, and the role played by renewable energy in new development plans established by the government of Kazakhstan within the Strategy 2050. Spain is one of the leaders on a global scale both in the production and in design and technology in this area. We hope that in this area we can also work with you,” Rajoy concluded.

According to Director of the UN Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Environment Division Marco Keiner, the UNECE is ready to make Kazakhstan’s dams safer and to implement projects in Kazakhstan and around Central Asia.

“What are we doing in Central Asia? In general, we are rendering support to countries in the field of water. Water is a very important point in this region … We have specific projects for dam safety. You know that most of the dams were built in the Soviet era; they are outdated and need to be reconstructed. We do not want to allow dams to break.”

One of the sessions of the conference was devoted to the concept of transitioning to a green economy in Kazakhstan. In this context, EXPO 2017 in Astana will create additional incentives for the green modernisation of the economy, which in turn will allow Kazakhstan achieve its strategic goal of being ranked among the top 30 most developed economies in the world.

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