ASTANA — Kazakhstan is committed to developing nature-based solutions to deal with the challenges of the receding Aral Sea and the Caspian Sea, said Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, Zulfiya Suleimenova, during a press briefing with foreign media at the Central Communication Services on March 17.
Addressing a question about the Aral Sea, she said Kazakhstan is working closely with the World Bank to maintain the ecosystem and rebuild the northern half of the sea. To mitigate an ecological catastrophe, the country strives to concentrate not just on technical solutions but also on sustainable nature-based solutions.
“We have begun to see desertification and shifting sands. This is a major issue,” said the minister.
Suleimenova highlighted the country’s efforts to mitigate the Aral Sea disaster by planting Saksaul trees, ideal for that climate, as an example of nature-based solutions.
“We have a large project to plant Saksaul trees in the northern Aral Sea, one of the few plants that can grow there and help keep moisture in the soil. We want to ensure that the solutions implemented are long-term and sustainable,” she said.
The minister underlined that the environmental agenda is at the top of the country’s priorities.
“If we say that the New Kazakhstan is just and fair, we should prioritize environmental issues. We must try to maintain and preserve the natural ecosystem the Aral Sea represents and ensure that we are being fair to our citizens and those living in that area,” Suleimenova said.
She also noted Kazakhstan’s environmental challenges in diversifying agricultural lands, outlining what the government is doing to solve the problem.
“Kazakhstan is already experiencing a high level of diversification. We are fully concentrating our efforts on nature-based solutions. There are various options, but we need to work closely with farmers, which is what our colleagues from the Ministry of Agriculture are doing. They are offering subsidies to farmers to ensure that they are investing in preserving the land’s fertility,” she said.
In response to a question about the Caspian Sea, Suleimenova said that it is an essential ecosystem where the best approaches should be used. She emphasized that all countries sharing the Caspian Sea basin must cooperate to protect its unique environment.
She also commented on the deaths of Caspian seals last year, saying the country takes this tragedy personally, and the ministry is working closely with the scientific community to resolve the issue.