The incremental approach to this project lays in the strengthening the assessment of proposed development policies, programmes and plans from a global perspective. That is, as Kazakhstan increasingly embarks on the use of new approaches that will showcase the Green Economy, new and additional GEF resources are being made available for undertaking and instituting an economic valuation of global environmental goods and services.
The strategic value of this project is that it is attached to the high political commitment of the Government, in particular the President of Kazakhstan, to pursue a Green Economy. This commitment is reflected in the Government’s Green Economy Strategy an Action Plan, which will be implemented in three phases: 2013-2019; 2020-2030, and 2030-2050, the first phase of which was approved by Parliament in September 2013. Kazakhstan will host the International Exposition (Expo 2017) in June 2017, the central theme of which is innovative and practical energy solutions. The Government will use this as opportunity to showcase its lessons learned in pursuing green economy.
Government staff will already be engaged in training courses and assigned work to implement plans, projects and activities under the Green Economy Action Plan. This includes the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources that will be executing this CCCD project. GEF resources will be used to integrate a strong global environmental character into the development and testing of which includes important departments and staff that are responsible for making planning decisions. These departments will benefit from training on natural resource valuation as well as participate in the learn-by-doing application of natural resource valuation tools. The incremental approach of this project also resides in the institutionalization of stronger tools to value the global environment. As the Government proceeds with pursuing a Green Economy, a number of institutional, legislative and regulatory reforms will be necessary in order to adopt and mainstream new and innovative approaches and best practices. This project will help identify those approaches and practices that offer better economic values of the global environment that can be institutionalized at the same time within the appropriate management and decision-making structures and mechanisms.
This project is strategic in that Parliament recently approved a seven-year action plan for the country’s pursuit of a Green Economy, which is the President of Kazakhstan’s top priority goal. This project therefore enjoys significant political commitment and will to pursue the project’s baseline. Through improved planning and decisions consistent with the principles of a Green Economy, sustainable development can increasingly take on a global environmental character. From an innovative perspective, valuing natural resources from a global environmental lens is not all the new. Global environmental values from a social and economic perspective already well-known, such as the loss of life after increased climatic events. Another example is the loss of productivity arising from land degradation. Opportunity costs are largely the manner in which the global environment needs further valuation. At present, the value of global environmental goods and services are calculated using net present value that inherently discounts their true importance. This includes the provision of clean water and clean air by wetlands and forests, respectively. Natural resources are generally valued according to their present economic value, such as forests for the timber it provides as a marketable commodity.
The transformative value of the project is significant. If best practices and innovative approaches that integrate the global environment into green economy are successful, this project can contribute to a large-scale transformation of Kazakhstan’s economy to one that is truly sustainable. The activities of the private sector will be better enabled through the government’s Green Economy screening processes to reduce their negative impact on the global environment. Given that the global environment is largely at risk from development choices, this project, if successful, could help transform Kazakhstan’s approach to economic development to one that is truly environmentally sound and sustainable from a global environmental perspective.
In addition to the three Rio Conventions, an important international environmental treaty to which this project will respond is the Espoo Convention (Convention on environmental impact assessment in a transboundary context). This convention calls for undertaking EIAs at the early stages of planning in order to prevent, reduce, and control the adverse transboundary environmental impact and ensure ecologically sound and sustainable development. Kazakhstan signed the convention on 25 February 1991, which subsequently entered into force on 10 October 1997. Depending on the final choice of the high value development project with which to test natural resource valuation, this CCCD project could also inform best practices for operationalizing the Strategic Environmental Assessments from a global environmental perspective. Consultations during the project development phase suggested that the pilot component of the project be sector-focused, and not regional-focused. Consultations also suggested consideration be given to developing an indicator of green technology, and more generally aimed at the industrial sector.
The Aarhus Convention (on access to information, public participation in decision-making, and access to justice in environmental matters) was signed by Kazakhstan on 24 June 1998, with the convention entering into force on 30 October 2001. This CCCD project will also contribute to this convention’s objective in that the legitimacy and sustainability of Green Economy approaches and decisions can be ensure through public participation. Part of the project’s strategic approach is to strengthen the appropriate mechanism or mechanisms to allow public input in the decision-making process of proposed developments. As a result, this requires sensitization by a broader set of stakeholders on the importance of natural resource valuation.