Nurgali Ashimov: «Еconomic growth, social development and environmental protection»

June 28, 2010 11:42

The Republic of Kazakhstan will host the Conference Astana-2010 — one of the biggest events of regional importance to strengthen the capability, build partnerships and follow-up of regional processes and programs in the field of environmental protection and development.

In an effort to strengthen domestic competence and implementing the  Kazakh national program Zhasyl Damu (Green Development). The Republic of Kazakhstan introduced the «Green Bridge Initiative» (Astana Initiative), promoting the Eurasian integration for «Green growth», which will be presented at the Conference Astana-2010.

The Minister of Environmental Protection Nurgali Ashimov is telling about the Conference’s main message, expected results and uniqueness of the Astana Initiative undertaken by the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

1. What is the main message of Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED-6)?

The main message of the Conference is aimed at integrating environmental and economic policies for sustainable and effective development of the Asia-Pacific region. The theme of “Green growth” was the theme of the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED-6) in Seoul, 24-29 March, 2005, will be continued at the Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED-6) in Astana from 27 September to 2 October, 2010. The main goal of the Conference is to ensure and strengthen the synergies between the three pillars of sustainable development, namely: economic growth, social development and environmental protection.

The Conference stresses the need for strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation to address common environmental problems, promote transfer of technology, organization of information networks and reduce the negative effects of globalization.

The Conference will be held under the motto Zhasyl Damu – “Green Development" — the name and the theme chosen by the Asia-Pacific region to prepare for the Global Summit “Rio-20” on Sustainable Development, planned for 2012.

«Green Growth» is the economic development and building of government capacity, without damage to the environment and natural resources. «Green Growth» is a goal of many countries, and I believe that the Conference “Astana-2010” will be a tool for solving critical environmental issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

2. What questions will be included in the agenda of the Conference?

First and foremost, there will be a report presented on the implementation of the Seoul Initiative on Environmentally Sustainable Growth, «Green Growth», proposed by the Republic of Korea as a regional initiative in 2005. There will also be a report on the Kitakyushu Initiative “Clean Environment", launched by Japan in 2000.

The Conference will be considered an evaluation report on the current situation in the region, prepared by the ESCAP secretariat.

In the framework of considering future work plans on the agenda of the Conference there will be several issues: the principles of environmental research, rational use of natural resources, development of a new paradigm based on principles of low greenhouse gas emissions, as well as green urban planning.

Furthermore, the Republic of Kazakhstan, as the host country, will present the initiative of integrating the two processes of environment and sustainable development.

3. What will be the format of the Conference?

Official events of MCED-6 include Senior Officials' Meeting on 27 September, 2010, and the Meeting of Ministers of 1 October, 2010.

At the Meeting of Senior Officials will be a discussion of the assessment of sustainable development and perspectives will be defined in regards to regional priorities and agreed actions in response to the challenges of global and regional environmental issues in a fast-growing economies of the Asia-Pacific region.

Senior officials will review and finalize the draft of the Regional Implementation Plan for 2011—2015 for sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region, and make recommendations to Ministers for adoption of the Plan.

At the Ministerial segment, after the approval of the Plan for the implementation of further activities in the framework of Astana initiative there will be adopted the Astana Declaration of Ministers that will be signed not just by ministers of environmental protection, but also by ministers of economy.

The Astana initiative involves the further implementation of plans for «Green growth» and creation of a dialogue platform for green integration between Asia, Europe and the Pacific.

The framework of the Conference includes plans to hold parallel events, which will help involve all sectors of the society and all interested parties in discussion of the problems. This applies to governments, natural resources consumers and non-governmental organizations.

Areas for discussion will be varied. It is important during this time to find understanding, identify areas of common interests and identify ways to address them. A Business-Forum, a Forum of Civil Society; Tripartite debates, Exhibition of technological and technical achievements in the areas of the environment protection and development, Round Tables and Cross-Sector Forums will all take place at the Conference.

4. What are the main goals and objectives of the Astana initiatives, what is its uniqueness?

The Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in the Asia-Pacific region has been held every five years since 1985. To understand the uniqueness of the Astana initiative it is necessary to have an overview of all of the previous Conferences. Each one of them carries a unique perspective and key solutions to certain problems in the Asia-Pacific region.

For example, let us take the last two Conferences in 2000 and 2005. I think that they were very memorable.

At the Conference in 2000, which was held in Japan, the Kitakyushu Initiative was presented in support of clean environment and by 2005 the Regional Action Program for Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development had been completed. The Fifth Ministerial Conference was held in Korea in 2005 and differed from all of the previous conferences because it established the main doctrine of economic development was taken from green growth. The environment of the region was considered in two perspectives: environmental sustainability and ecological indicators of economic activity. Emphasis was placed on the greening of economic growth in the region to support sustainable development.

The theme «Green growth» will continue in the Sixth Conference of Ministers of Environment and Development in Asia-Pacific (MCED-6).

The Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in order to promote integration and cooperation to the Rio-20 in 2012, and to promote environmentally sound growth, introduces the Astana Initiative. The favorable geographical location of Kazakhstan lends to the name “The Green Bridge” – the bridge between Asia-Pacific and European regions.

The initiative aims to help strengthen institutional capacity and the network of inter-regional cooperation among countries in Asia-Pacific and Pan-European regions. Its aim is to promote a multi-sector approach through raising awareness and demonstrating best practices and cooperation in the field of management, innovation and «green demand».

The first and main objective of the Initiative is to create a dialogue platform and program of Eurasian cooperation on the basis of and in the process of consultation with key partners.

Kazakhstan is interested in active participation in the post-Copenhagen process, taking into account the commitments it had made.  It intends to develop the strategy and practice of low-carbon emission development, and is ready to help promote investment in ecosystem services for addressing transboundary ecosystems problems.

However, the process of green growth and development already has some history. Reflecting the priorities of the international community, Kazakhstan supports constructive dialogue, taking into account the interests of Asia-Pacific and European regions.

An idea of the regions’ partnership has been discussed for a long time. It stems from the Millennium Development Goals and the recommendations of the World Summit on sustainable development. These documents provide assistance to developing countries in the form of transfer of technology and resources, and coordination of this process by the UN agencies.

In 2007 at the Belgrade Conference, the Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development in Central Asia brought to light the need for building such a bridge for cooperation in the regions.

Comprehensive analysis of existing problems and needs of cooperation led to the idea of building a «Green bridge» between the regions. For Kazakhstan the Eurasian cooperation is a logical continuation of initiatives, in the area of economic and social cooperation played its role as well. The Eurasian Cooperation Program will include demonstration projects, exchange of green technologies and best practices. Mutually beneficial cooperation between governments and business sector should be the key to the success of this Program.

5. What are the expected results of the Conference?

The main expected results of the Conference will be the Ministerial Declaration and the Regional Plan for 2011—2015, which will be a key tool for the implementation of the Astana initiative.

Declaration assumes taking environmental liabilities (responsibilities) and commitments to promote the principles of environmental protection and sustainable development.

It is expected that one of the visual outcomes of the Sixth Conference of Ministers of 2010, will be the creation of partnership between the government and business sector, as well as between civil society and NGOs.

The Conference will focus on the greening process of economic growth in the region to support sustainable development.

We hope that the results of the Astana initiative will make themselves known even before its official completion in 2020.