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Astana, September 21: Greening the economy to ensure the sustainable development of Kazakhstan was the focus of a seminar held in Astana on September 18. The event was hosted by the Environment Ministry of Kazakhstan and organized by the United Nations Development Program.

Given that Kazakhstan’s economy is highly dependent on its vast natural resources, it is of crucial importance to find the most effective methods of sustainable development. In June this year, at the Rio+20 UN conference on sustainable development, Kazakhstan proposed the ‘Green Bridge’ partnership program and the Global Energy and Environment Strategy. Both initiatives received widespread support from the international community and were included in the final declaration of the Conference.

Following these initiatives, the Government of Kazakhstan is now developing a national strategy on transitioning to a green economy by 2050. This week’s seminar was a forum for open dialogue between business representatives, NGOs, state bodies and international organizations focusing on how to develop Kazakhstan’s green economy as well as considering other countries’ experience in this area.

Environmental experts believe that Kazakhstan possesses unique opportunities and prerequisites for a green economy: vast territory, geopolitical position, and the financial and natural resources to develop renewable energy sources, which can replace environmentally harmful and inefficient power plants. Other opportunities to develop the green economy were identified in modernizing housing and public utilities, introducing sustainable management of pasture and upgrading water management systems.

Tangible steps have already been taken in Kazakhstan to make the economy greener: recent laws promote wind energy, energy saving and the recycling of industrial and solid domestic waste and a new Interdepartmental Council has the mandate to integrate green principles into sectoral policy.

In a recent interview, Environment Minister Nurlan Kapparov said that the transition to a green economy will require investment of up to 2 % of GDP per year. The intention is to supplement state investment with private sector funds by creating the necessary conditions to attract private investors into various sectors of the economy. Mr Kapparov did not rule out the possibility of introducing tax benefits for businesses using green technologies.

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