A Greener Development Path for Kazakhstan
Cleaner industry and improved air quality monitoring for a healthier society and better environmental protection
April 16, 2014
Kazakhstan’s environmental state is at a critical crossroads, as the pressure of economic growth without adequate environmental controls and the legacy of unchecked industrial production are beginning to take a toll on people’s health. Industry in Kazakhstan contributes to over 30 percent of the country’s GDP, of which mining, which includes oil and gas production, is a significant share (18 percent in 2012). Evidence suggests that exposure to air pollution in Kazakhstan is having serious health and environmental consequences, particularly in urban and highly industrialized areas. According to a recent joint study of the World Bank and the MEWR, the economic and health costs of air pollution to society are upwards of US$1.3 billion per year, most of which are private costs to individuals and therefore do not appear in national accounts.
Under the Joint Economic Research Program (JERP) between the World Bank and the Government of Kazakhstan, the World Bank has provided recommendations to help modernize the air quality management system, along with the corresponding regulatory reforms necessary to increase industry compliance. Kazakhstan is among the first countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to take a comprehensive approach to transiting to a green economy. The new Concept of Transition to a Green Economy strives to align environmental standards in Kazakhstan to those in the European Union (EU). The suggested improvements aim to increase industrial modernization to boost the country’s competitiveness, using modern green technologies. Study tours for ministry staff, organized jointly with the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) to industrial sites in Finland, allowed for hands-on experience exchange and training. The World Bank and FMI are currently working to incorporate the recommendations into the Kazakhstan Hydrometeorological Service modernization plans.
The joint work of the MEWR and the World Bank contributed to the following results:
- A series of studies identifying gaps in the current air quality monitoring program, analyzing environmental permitting processes, monitoring and reporting of industrial emissions, and providing good practice recommendations for developing an industrial emissions registration system.
- The piloting of an MEWR emissions registration system. Corresponding analysis pointed to several directions for improvement, particularly by enhancing the transparency and public access to information.
- Modernization of 60 percent of the equipment and chemical laboratories at 114 points across the country to allow real-time air pollution monitoring covering 43 percent of the republic (data provided by the Hydromet Department for Environmental Monitoring). The analysis recommended monitoring efforts in specific urban and industrialized areas and complementary “softer” investments in human capacity to maintain the modernized air quality network.
- A reduction in industry’s environmental impact through investments in air abatement technology and equipment.
Bank Group Contribution
The technical assistance, within the framework of the JERP, is funded jointly by the Government of Kazakhstan and the World Bank.
Periodic meetings of the MEWR, the Environmental Information and Analytical Center, and the Hydromet Department for Environmental Monitoring helped coordinate the analytical work. External collaboration with the FMI resulted in a series of study tours to Finland for hands-on training. The Norwegian firm Norsk Energi made legislative and policy comparisons with inputs from the Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency and the Kazakhstan Climate Change Center. Recommendations from the joint analyses are part of a larger effort led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on legislative reform to support the Green Economy in Kazakhstan.
The Bank is working with the MEWR to develop an Industrial Hazardous Waste Management Strategy and Policy Note, to be ready by end-2014, that will support MEWR’s efforts in requiring industry to reduce its waste by developing waste management plans for the next three, five, and 10 years.
In parallel, the World Bank is using its recommendations and experience from the JERP studies to partner with other donors to support Kazakhstan’s Green Economy Concept and Action Plan. For example, in collaboration with EBRD, amendments to the Environmental Code are being proposed as part of the Green Economy Law.
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