Proposing Green Strategy and Green Bridge for Rio+20

April 3. The Astana Times

By Nurlan Kapparov, the Minister of Environmental Protection of Kazakhstan

Proposing Green Strategy and Green Bridge for Rio+20The World Summit on Sustainable Development, Rio +20, which is to be held June 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will bring together heads of state and government from around the world. Kazakhstan, as well as the entire international community, attaches great importance to this event. It is expected that the UN Summit will make important decisions that will become a turning point for humanity, and determine the longterm strategic direction of the planet to save it for future generations.

The agenda of Rio +20 includes two main topics: first, the transition to a “green” economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and, second, the development of an institutional framework for sustainable development.

Twenty years ago in 1992, Rio de Janeiro hosted the historic UN Conference on Environment and Development, which identified common global problems and identified the means to solve them. One of the main outcomes of that summit was the adoption of a global action plan for achieving sustainable human development – Agenda for the 21st Century. In order to protect the environment, biodiversity, mitigate climate change and prevent desertification, a number of new environmental conventions were signed. In order to achieve sustainable development, the heads of state and government pledged to work together to solve the world’s environmental, economic and social problems.

The intention of the developed and developing countries to create over the following 20 years favourable conditions for people, flora and fauna yielded some results, but failed to change the situation in a fundamental way and the problems of humanity on the contrary grew exponentially. There were both objective and subjective reasons for that. We should not forget that man bears the primary responsibility for the safety of our planet, so we draw lessons from our mistakes and develop a unified strategy to save and develop life on Earth.

Leading up to Rio +20, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that the world is facing such problems as a shortage of food and clean water, pollution and overcrowding in cities, the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. At the Conference in Rio de Janeiro, leaders will also discuss the construction of environmentally friendly cities, restoring the oceans, creating jobs in the green economy. The UN chief noted that we need to set a new goal of sustainable development, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals, and to achieve consensus on the ways to reach them.

From its first days of independence, Kazakhstan led by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been involved in the decision-making at UN Summits, actively working to introduce and implement the principles of sustainable development. We developed and implemented national plans on environmental protection, poverty reduction, conservation and rational use of water resources, biological diversity, climate change and other environmental issues.

Kazakhstan is in the continuous process of harmonizing its environmental legislation with international standards and guidelines. Thus, we have adopted the Environmental Code, ratified 26 international environmental conventions, including the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Much and extensive work is also being done on “greening” the economy, aimed at resource, energy and water conservation and the development of alternative energy.

On September 21, 2011 at the 66th session of the UN General Assembly, President Nazarbayev proposed including on the agenda of the Conference Rio +20 two Kazakh initiatives – the Global Energy and Environment Strategy and the largescale, inter-regional partnership programme, Green Bridge.

The main goal of the Global Energy and Economic Strategy is to reach by the middle of the 21st century the optimum level of satisfaction of needs of all countries in the world in energy and other natural resources, without harm to the ecosystem.

Our President said that the world was on the threshold of technological revolution. The main feature of the beginning of this century is the realization of innovations and the globalization of technological innovations, i.e. the extension beyond national borders of the scale of their creation and distribution.

The proposed partnership allows us to overcome the technological gap between industrialized and developing countries. This aspect should be considered as an obligatory factor for sustainable development in the world, which excludes the possibility of further increases in the contradictions in the technology, and hence in the economic and social development, in different regions of the world.

The formation of global and regional markets of high-tech goods and services will greatly accelerate the creation and promotion of basic and landmark innovations, and unite resources from different countries for their implementation, to increase the scale of the global technological rents.

We offer to start practical implementation of the proposals of the Global Energy and Environment Strategy and the inter-regional Green Bridge programme for the period 2011 through 2020.

The Astana initiative Green Bridge was adopted in October 2010 at the 6th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development of the Asia-Pacific region. In September 2011, the 7th European Conference on Environment and Development supported the Partnership Programme on implementation of the Astana initiative for 2010-2020.

For Kazakhstan, sustainable development and green economy are not theoretical concepts, but essential issues. The disasters of the Aral Sea and the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing ground, and many other regional and national environmental challenges require new approaches and practical solutions. Many other countries which do not have sufficient experience and capacity to address them have such unresolved problems.

That’s why Kazakhstan has initiated the inter-regional Green Bridge programme as a voluntary, regional, and practical mechanism for the transition to a green economy.

A green economy does not replace the goals of sustainable development, but is a mechanism to achieve them. It means the preservation of nature on an economically viable basis.

At that, a new generation of green technologies and environmental innovations, and based on those technologies and innovations, products and services will become the main instruments. The market of green goods has already exceeded 1.37 trillion dollars and will double by 2020, according to UN projections. Investments in sustainable energy from 2005 are growing by an average 50 percent per year.

The Green Bridge programme involves the joint cooperation of states, international, governmental, academic institutional and business organizations on the development and creation of new branches of green business through the implementation of investment projects, the reform of policies and the application of economic and market instruments.

The Astana initiative will open borders and help all interested countries and organizations get access to green technologies and innovations.

In the Green Bridge programme, there are no donor countries and recipient states. And there are two directions in this movement: one is environmentally friendly green technology, and the other is green products produced by that environmentally friendly green technology. Advanced countries should offer or “submit” their latest green technologies. In turn, the developing countries should provide favorable conditions for attracting green technologies and investments. All countries and partners would provide free markets for green products stemming from green technologies.

Green Bridge does not replace or duplicate other existing processes or programs.

The geography of the countries that support the programme is quite extensive: Asia and the Pacific Ocean, Europe, the US and Canada. These regions account for three quarters of the world’s population, more than one billion poor people, and almost 90 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Those areas contain the most important ecosystems, energy and natural resources and, therefore, offer great opportunities for new technologies, the use of best practices and creating and developing new markets for green products and services.

The programme is designed to ensure the preservation and restoration of inter-globally important ecosystems.

In his state-of the nation address “Socio-Economic Modernization as the Main Vector of Development”, President Nazarbayev said our country will make every effort to implement the Global Energy Strategy and Green Bridge. In May 2012, Kazakhstan’s global environmental initiatives will be discussed at the 5th Astana Economic Forum, and in June they will be offered for consideration and inclusion in the final documents of the Conference Rio +20.

Thereby, the participation of Kazakhstan in Rio +20, and its initiatives will become an important step towards sustainable development.