Kazakhstan incorporates UNDP recommendations to protect agriculture from climate change

ASTANA – The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) new report “Climate Change Adaptation in Europe and Central Asia: Adapting to a Changing Climate for Resilient Development,” which draws on lessons learned from Kazakhstan’s wheat farming project, was presented at the Dec. 2-14 Katowice Climate Change conference in Poland.

Staff of Zhongar-Alatau Park weeding the fruit tree nursery in Kazakhstan. Photo credit: UNDP Kazakhstan.

“With impressive development progress over the past two decades, the countries of the Europe and Central Asia region are primed for significant environmental, economic and social growth,” but climate change-driven hazards threaten to reverse this progress in agriculture, energy and public health, the report begins.

The publication explores climate change adaptation efforts during the past decade in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan and highlights adaptation success stories to set recommendations.

Kazakhstan’s wheat production is Central Asia’s main source of food security, with wheat providing more than 60 percent of daily calories, said UNDP Project Manager Yerlan Zhumabayev in his presentation. According to the Kazakh Ministry of Energy, the country’s average temperature increase is twice as fast as the world average due to its geography and climate. Climate change thus threatens its security with frequent and severe droughts and is projected to decrease spring wheat production 25-70 percent after 2030.

The country’s UNDP-supported wheat farming climate resilience was achieved by advancing the application of water-saving technologies and practices and improving agro-meteorological information. The outcomes of the 2012-2016 project include better weather forecasting, innovative agricultural techniques and technology transfers for improving crop yields, food security and income growth. Six hundred farmers, who received up-to-date forecasts from Kazhydromet, the national hydrometeorology service, reported 20 percent higher yields on average and the pilot plots’ wheat productivity increased from the average yield of 1.4 tonnes per hectare to 2.7 tonnes in Kostanai, Petropavlovsk and Shortandy, a town near Astana.

Project recommendations were ultimately incorporated into Kazakhstan’s Concept for the Transition to a Green Economy, in which $7 million has been committed annually to wheat production for 2015-2020. The anticipated outcome is to diversify the economy, increase the gross domestic product (GDP) by 3 percent and create more than 500,000 new jobs.

The takeaway in reviewing similar UNDP projects in Europe and Central Asia centre on acting on climate change now, combining public and private finance, engaging diverse groups of stakeholders and adopting a holistic, inclusive and country-driven approach to solutions.

UNDP, the UN’s global development network, works with governments, local stakeholders, businesses and donors in attaining countries’ goals on resilient development, environmental sustainability, peace and prosperity. Its adaptation projects and recommendations align with its new four-year strategic plan launched this year and the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda, Sendai Framework and Paris Agreement.

The report is available at www.undp.org.