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Towards a Green Economy: Kazakhstan has started the second, practical phase to establish a strategic environmental assessment national framework

Published: 17 November 2017

Kazakhstan is underway to introduce a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) procedure in accordance with international standards as a tool for greening its economy.

SEA enables governments to prevent irreversible and costly mistakes by integrating environmental considerations at an early stage of preparing governmental plans and programmes in such economic sectors as agriculture, energy, industry, land use, transport, regional development, waste and water management through environmental and human health impact assessment.

UNECE has been assisting Kazakhstan in the development of legislation and through support to practical steps towards the integration of SEA procedures in its planning and programming processes.

On 15 November 2017 in Astana, at an inter-ministerial round table meeting, representatives of governmental planning and environmental authorities together with representatives from business, civil society and academia discussed SEA benefits for Kazakhstan and possible SEA implementation in the current national context. This also provided the occasion to address the steps to be taken by the country towards aligning its current legislative framework (primarily, the Environmental Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan) with the provisions of the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment and the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in a Transboundary Context, developed and hosted by UNECE.

Based on the outcomes of these discussions, a team of national and international experts will develop recommendations for the integration in Kazakhstan of EIA and SEA procedures as tools for reaching green economy targets.

Along with legislative assistance, a SEA pilot project was initiated in Kazakhstan to develop national SEA practice, to raise awareness of SEA among national stakeholders and to ensure environmental safety by supporting the development of sustainable energy production and consumption. To this end, the Concept of the Fuel and Energy Complex of the Republic of Kazakhstan until 2030 was selected as a governmental program document for a pilot SEA. The pilot project will extend until October 2018.

At the SEA pilot start-up workshop (8-9 November 2017), state officials of Kazakhstan and national experts got familiar with the SEA procedure and its main steps. With the support of international experts the national team of experts on ecology, energy, health and biodiversity - established to support implementation of the pilot - carried out a scoping exercise and identified initial elements of the baseline analysis. They also planned for the next steps of the pilot SEA procedure, including developing alternative scenarios for the national fuel and energy complex, identifying significant effects on environment and human health, and proposing measures to prevent these adverse effects.

This second, practical phase of SEA introduction in Kazakhstan is a logical continuation of a review of national legal framework vis-à-vis the Provisions of the Protocol on SEA carried out at the end of 2016 in the early 2017 and the activities made in support of preparation of the Guideline on application of EIA in a transboundary context in Central Asian countries. In April 2017, further to the review results, a feasibility study of legislative reforms was discussed with members of the national Parliament, Committee on Ecology and Environmental Management of the Mazhilis, and officials from the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The activities are implemented with support of UNECE and funding from the EU-funded project "Support to Kazakhstan's transition to a green economy model" and the OSCE Programme Office in Astana.

For more information, please visit:

http://www.unece.org/env/eia/welcome.html

http://www.unece.org/environmental-policy/conventions/water/areas-of-work-of-the-convention/envwatercentralasia/supporting-kazakhstans-transition-towards-green-economy-model.html

or contact Ms Elena Santer, Environmental Affairs Officer, UNECE, at elena.santer@unece.org.

Note to editors

About the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention)

The Espoo Convention sets out the obligations of Parties to assess the environmental impact of certain activities at an early stage of planning. It also lays down the general obligation of States to notify and consult each other on all major projects under consideration that are likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact across boundaries. The Republic of Kazakhstan has been a party to the Espoo Convention since 2001.

About the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

The Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) requires its Parties to evaluate the environmental consequences of their official draft plans and programmes. SEA is undertaken much earlier in the decision-making process than EIA, and it is therefore seen as a key tool for sustainable development. As a result, SEA can help to make government planning in energy, agriculture, water management, waste management economic sectors, which have a significant impact on the environment, more efficient, taking into account environmental and human health factors. In particular, SEA makes it possible to identify the most sustainable and cost-effective alternatives of strategic development for green economic growth, adaptation to climate change, attracting new investments and protecting the environment.

The Protocol also provides for extensive public participation in government decision-making in numerous development sectors.

Kazakhstan has been considering becoming party to the Protocol since the beginning of 2017.


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