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Enhancing national legislative framework for environmental assessment in Kazakhstan (2015 - 2018)

In September and October 2016 a desk review of the existing legislation and institutional framework for environmental assessment of strategic documents in Kazakhstan was conducted by the international and national consultants based on materials provided by the Ministry of Energy.

On 14 November 2016 an initial round table on the development of the SEA system in Kazakhstan was organized to raise awareness of the national stakeholders about the ECE Protocol and its benefits and to brief the national environmental, sectoral and local authorities on the necessary steps to be taken by the Government to establish a national SEA system in line with the Protocol.

In the period November 2016 to January 2017 a draft review report was prepared, including an assessment of the existing legislative and institutional framework, recommendations regarding possible amendments to the current law and proposals for new legislation.

On 25 January 2017 a national round table was held to present and discuss the draft report.

On 6 April 2017 a high-level round table was held under the auspices of the Parliament of Kazakhstan to discuss the feasibility of the development of the national SEA system and select priorities and components for further action. 

In 2017 the Ministry initiated a comprehensive legislative reform on environmental assessment to align the national framework with the provisions of the Espoo Convention and its Protocol on SEA.

SEA and EIA legal drafting was facilitated by the Ministry through its national SEA and EIA drafting working group that is responsible for providing required inputs and participating in the legal drafting analysis. The working group was established in January 2018, comprising from the representatives of the Ministry and other state agencies to enhance the environmental legislation of Kazakhstan.

The drafting group was invited to (a) actively participate in the legal drafting process and all other SEA/EIA planned events; (b) guide the national and international experts in developing proposals for amending the legislation; (c) prepare necessary regulations; and provide written inputs and comments to the draft proposals.

Two international consultants and one national expert were intensively involved in delivery of the SEA and EIA amendments to the Environmental Code, sectoral and secondary legislation of Kazakhstan. The consultants and the expert were the main source of expertise and, therefore, acted as key speakers during the delivered training activities and developers of the draft amendments. 

An inter-ministerial round table meeting (15-16 November 2017, Astana) facilitated the discussions on the EIA and SEA benefits for Kazakhstan and its desirable 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 SEA and the Espoo Convention. Based on the outcomes of these discussions, a team of national and international experts developed recommendations for the integration in Kazakhstan of EIA and SEA procedures as tools for reaching green economy targets.

The results of the legal review and analysis of the legislation of Kazakhstan regarding the implementation of the UNECE Protocol on SEA, undertaken in 2017 were used as starting point for the meeting discussions at a working group session (15-16 February 2018, Astana). The agenda of the meeting was designed to discuss the needs, the scope and the course of the SEA and EIA legal reforms in Kazakhstan. In particular, the participants of the Working group meeting were invited to discuss the SEA proposals towards amendment of the Environmental Code of Kazakhstan and sectoral legislation; discuss the need for SEA subordinate legislation; develop further recommendations and confirm the planning regarding the legislative drafting on SEA; discuss the legislative Review of the existing EIA system vis-à-vis the Espoo Convention (EIA Review); collect participants’ opinion on the EIA Review; discuss the need, the scope and the course of legislative EIA reform by considering alternative scenarios; develop further recommendations and confirm the planning regarding the legislative drafting on the EIA.

The second working group meeting (25-16 April 2018, Astana) accommodated the presentation of the first SEA draft amendments to the Environmental Code of Kazakhstan and sectorial legislation, prepared by the national and international consultants, followed by expert discussions and first comments and resulted in two major outcomes: a) recommendations to finalize the SEA draft amendments to the Environmental Code and relevant sectoral legislation concerning the SEA; b) recommendations on the further course of action regarding the EIA national system reform.

On 5 September 2018 in Astana the draft proposals of the EIA team experts targeting to harmonize the national legislation with the provisions of the Espoo Convention was discussed at a round table consultation meeting. The participants were represented by the members of the Ministry’s working group on the revision of the Environmental Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, other experts of the Ministry, responsible for strategic planning and EIA implementation, representatives of private sector, international legal consultants and national legal experts.