In more than one way Kazakhstan is at a crossroads.
The strategic position of the largest landlocked economy of the world makes it a natural connector between China and Europe, between South Asia and Russia. Politically and economically, Kazakhstan seems to be at a crossroad also, with various directions in sight and some tough decisions to be made.
How can Kazakhstan reconcile…?
- the aspiration to enter the club of the 30 most developed economies…
…with social unrest and demands to improve the livelihoods of Kazakh people?
- a commitment for economic transformation centred on sustainable development and renewable energy…
…with an industry heavily focussed on oil and extractives, accounting for more than 80 percent of electricity generation and responsible for one of the highest per capita GHG emission rates globally?
- low electricity prices emanating from reliance on fossil fuels…
… with goals to reduce the energy intensity of the national economy by 25 percent through 2020?
Adding to the political uncertainty, on 21 of February the President Nazarbayev signed a decree to dismiss his cabinet of ministers. The radical change came 2 days before the first official multi-agency visit of the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) to the country.
Despite uncertainties, PAGE received a very warm reception and universal support for the transition of the country to an inclusive green economy in all meetings and consultations held.
During the period 28 February – 1 March 2019, the PAGE delegation met and had fruitful discussions with officials from the Ministries of Energy, Agriculture, National Economy, Industry and Infrastructural Development. A stakeholder consultation was organized, where more than 30 government and non-government organizations and officials took part.
The message the PAGE delegation received from various sides was clear: Kazakhstan is committed to a transition towards a green economy. Such transition is not seen as a contradiction to the social objectives declared by the president, on the contrary. Higher energy efficiency, green business opportunities, clean and efficient agriculture and integrated waste and water management shall contribute to a happier, wealthier, more productive Kazakhstan.
The direction is clear, but Kazakhstan still has a long way to go. In 2018 the Republic joined PAGE with the objective of achieving the ambitious targets set out in its National Development Strategy Kazakhstan 2050 and its Green Economy Concept (an IGE roadmap for the country). These targets include sourcing as much as 30% of its energy from renewables by 2030, increasing to 50% by 2050. At the sectoral level, Kazakhstan aspires to become a regional hub for green finance, which would provide further support for investments in green economy.
The Government is taking concrete steps to achieve green objectives, including through an overhaul of the Green Economy Concept and by integrating SDG targets and indicators into national planning. PAGE can support these efforts through macroeconomic assessment and evidence-based research. In strategic sectors – such as energy and waste, PAGE can provide policy support and guidance. To ensure the longevity of the green transition, PAGE will work with national learning institutions to ensure that human capital is developed in the country.
To get off to a good start, in the next 4 to 6 months, PAGE Kazakhstan will focus on stocktaking, partnership building and priority setting in collaboration with Ministry of Energy and other key national stakeholders. Over the next few months the Partnership will formalize its country present by hiring a full time national coordinator based in Astana.
Stay tuned for more exciting inclusive green development from Central Asia!