• English

Experts take stock of progress in environmental policies in Kazakhstan and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

What steps have been taken and what still needs to be done to improve environmental conditions, deliver inclusive economic growth and ensure resilience to climate change? What progress has been made in achieving public participation in decision-making and the reform of education systems towards sustainable development? How are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) accelerating countries’ efforts in these areas?

These are the key subjects of the UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews (EPRs) of Kazakhstan and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia prepared in 2018. The recommendations of these reviews were agreed upon by the delegations from the two countries with an international Expert Group on EPRs last week in Geneva. They are now in the hands of the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy, which will undertake their peer review at the end of January 2019.

During a discussion on the third EPR of Kazakhstan, a reduction in the carbon intensity of Kazakhstan’s GDP was identified as a top priority. The Government was urged to put the implementation of its ambitious renewable energy targets high on the political agenda and to strengthen the country’s emissions trading system. Kazakhstan was also recommended to introduce carbon taxation for housing and commercial sectors in order to incentivize a switch to environmentally-friendly technologies. Stronger efforts are needed to reduce emissions and increase the energy efficiency of existing large coal-fired power plants. Kazakhstan was urged to adopt stringent emission limit values for large combustion plants. It was called upon to abandon the differentiated approach to emission standards whereby the existing plants enjoy more relaxed standards than new ones – a practice that discourages modernization.

When considering the third EPR of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the international experts stressed the lack of openly-accessible comprehensive data, particularly on water, biodiversity, waste and noise. Establishing a fully-functional national integrated environmental information system, able to support the monitoring, processing, reporting and dissemination of information on all environmental topics, including for informed decision-making, was recommended to the country. To address the large number of non-compliant landfills and illegal dumpsites, the experts recommended establishing regional waste management systems, speeding up the construction of regional landfills taking measures to stop environmentally-harmful activities at non-compliant landfills. Decentralization of several environment-related competences to municipalities required closer coordination with and assistance from the central level, including on budgetary and capacity issues. To tackle many of the above concerns, among others, the experts recommended the establishment of a dedicated executive environment agency bringing together the Administration for Environment and the centre currently responsible for environmental information. 

Both EPRs emphasize priority actions to be taken by the governments and stakeholders in order to achieve the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was urged to revive the National Council for Sustainable Development and ensure its active role in guiding efforts to achieve SDGs. Kazakhstan, where a Coordination Council on SDGs was recently set up, was recommended to revise its strategic documents to mainstream SDGs and ensure that SDGs are explicitly integrated into future policy documents.

The two EPRs were reviewed by experts from Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland.

For more information, please visit http://www.unece.org/env/epr.html