Supporting Kazakhstan’s transition towards Green Economy model

Water scarcity is considered as a global threat. Water supplies in Kazakhstan are viewed as a living, unique and fragile system vulnerable to greater external risk than elsewhere, due to geographical, ecological and hydrological characteristics, trans-boundary rivers and the impact of global climate change.

Kazakhstan expects an upward trend in water consumption and reduced availability of water resources; this threatens six of the eight water basins of Kazakhstan by 2020. Given that 45% of water resources in the Republic of Kazakhstan are replenished from external sources, cross-border co-operation is vital to water security, requiring a comprehensive, integrated and strategic approach.

The above approach is being realized through the national strategy on green economy. The Concept on transition to a Green Economy was adopted in 2013 and it laid a foundation for a completely new development paradigm. Over the last decade, national water legislation and the water management system in Kazakhstan have been reformed, and reform continues. To alleviate water scarcity, Kazakhstan has made moves to improve its water management, making a transition to the Basin Management Principle, corresponding to best international practice. Funding for water management, irrigation and drainage infrastructure has been increased, helping to reduce waterloss and improve infrastructure safety. In 2012, a national dialogue on water policy (NPD) was initiated in Kazakhstan with the support of the EU, OECD and UNECE.

In 2015, a Project on Supporting Kazakhstan’s transition towards Green Economy model was launched. The project is funded by the European Union and is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the lead organization, in partnership with UNECE.

The overall objective of the Project is to contribute to Kazakhstan’s long-term environmental sustainability and inclusive economic development, supporting the country's transition to a Green Economy Model.  The Project is being developed in consultation with key stakeholders, in full alignment with the policy priorities of the Government of Kazakhstan. To ensure long-term sustainable impact, the Project builds upon experiences and lessons learnt previously, and synergizes with on-going sustainable development activities.

The specific objectives of the Project are:

(i) To contribute to sustainable water management policies and practices;
(ii) To promote a modernized environmental governance system, generating incentives for transition to a Green Economy Model, focusing on water resources and climate change; and
(iii) To promote GE transition at local level, focusing on water resources and climate change.

The strategic axes of the Project are:

·      To provide policy analysis and advice to key policy makers, in particular the Committee for Water Resource Management, under the Ministry of Agriculture;
·      To contribute to awareness raising and systematic structured capacity building of policy makers / implementers, as well as civil society, media and the private sector; and
·      To support quick-win high visibility and replicable GE actions at local level, focusing on water resources and climate change.

The Project will contribute to the following outcomes:

Outcome 1: Water governance in line with Green Economy requirements

Under this outcome UNECE will:

·         arrange two training courses on international water legislation and support development of a review and recommendations on the policy of Kazakhstan for trans-boundary water cooperation;
·         conduct assessment of the situation in two transboundary water bodies: the river Ural and canal Kigach;
·         review existing experience with river basin management plans in Kazakhstan and prepare policy recommendations for strengthening basin administrations and basin councils, building on international good practice;
·         contribute to the implementation of the Protocol on Water and Health by providing support to setting, adopting and implementing selected national targets on water and health;
·         support development of training modules and manuals and conduct a series of training for trainers from universities on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM);
·         organize training of governmental staff on IWRM.

Outcome 2: Increased efficiency of water use

Under this outcome UNECE will:

·         analyze the existing national system of supervision and control of hydro-technical infrastructure, develop recommendations for the improvement of the system, and arrange trainings for experts on safety of hydro-technical infrastructure

Other activities under this outcome are implemented by the UNDP.

Outcome 3: Establishing a modernized environmental governance system

Under this outcome UNECE will:

·         support the revision of the existing national legislation on environmental assessment and environmental expertise as well as the existing institutional structures with a view to identifying gaps and development needs;
·         develop recommendations for required changes or amendments to the legislation as well as institutional and process improvements to effectively implement strategic environmental assessment in full compliance with the Protocol on SEA;
·         analyze water policy and draft recommendations on ways to improve problem areas under the 3rd Environmental Performance Review.

Outcome 4: Visible and replicable pilot actions.

Outcome is implemented by the UNDP.

Reports from various UNECE activities in the framework of the project are found here.