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EXPO 2017: Coming to Kazakhstan

KazakhstanAmbassador of Kazakhstan, Kairat Abusseitov, outlines how Astana’s successful bid to host this international exhibition is an opportunity to promote and develop green technologies in CIS countries

Kazakhstan is proud and privileged to have been awarded the opportunity to host Expo 2017.  This is the first time that an international exhibition of this kind will be held on the territory of the former Soviet Union.

In a vote held on 22 November 2012 in Paris, 103 of the 161 member states of the International Bureau of Exhibitions (BIE) favoured Astana’s bid over the Belgian city of Liège.  This is a resounding endorsement of our concept of a forward-looking exhibition on the theme of ‘Future Energy,’ hosted in a brand new city which is a vibrant symbol of Kazakhstan’s commitment to building an innovative future.

The theme of our bid reflects Kazakhstan’s commitment to ‘green’ its economy and promote international cooperation on sustainable energy as the basis of its ‘Green Bridge’ Initiative.  This proposal received the support of the international community at the UN’s Rio +20 Summit in June. Expo 2017 in Astana will contribute to addressing many of the issues in Central Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) related to energy and environmental security, including water.

Expo 2017 will be a platform to showcase the achievements and the latest developments in the field of energy.  It will highlight the problem of energy and introduce alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, and water energy sources.  As an energy producer with some of the world’s richest reserves of oil, gas, and uranium, Kazakhstan is acutely aware that fossil fuels are being consumed at a faster pace; which is not only reducing their availability, but is also harming both humanity and the environment.

At present the world is facing a serious problem of fossil fuel shortage. The international community considers access to energy and developing renewables as  key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  Most vulnerable in this regard are the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, as well as Small Island Developing States.

Kazakhstan has enormous potential in renewable energy, particularly in wind and solar.  Wind power can potentially produce 25 times more energy in a year than we currently produce from our hydrocarbons.  We also see vast opportunities to conserve energy, including at the consumer end by 50-60 per cent.  In addition, we are taking urgent steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will be the first CIS country to launch a cap and trade system starting in January 2013.

Reducing our dependence on energy from hydrocarbons and their impact on the environment is at the centre of our transition to a ‘green’ economy.

President Nazarbayev has made the goal of shifting Kazakhstan’s economy  towards ‘sustainable green growth’ a national priority. A strategy to that effect will be adopted in 2013.  With the support of the UN and leading ‘green economies’ in Europe, Asia and the Americas, we will be developing and implementing in Central Asia the kind of model that will bring concrete economic benefits both for participating states and foreign investors alike. This approach will be key to tackling a number of the most complex, urgent and interconnected issues of energy, water and food security.

Not once in the 160 year history of international exhibitions has an event of this level been held in one of the developing countries of Africa, Latin America, South or Central Asia, or in any of the CIS countries. By voting for Astana, the world community has chosen to uphold the principle of equitable geographic representation.  Holding Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan – a landlocked country which is further from the world’s seas (3,750km) than any other country – is one of the appropriate ways for the international community to respond to the need for closer, complementary and mutually beneficial South-South and North–South cooperation.  Kazakhstan is also in an excellent geographical location, on the doorstep of the energy-hungry markets of Asia and their 2.5 million people.

Kazakhstan’s Government has already set up an Assistance Fund to support research in future energy.  It will help train skilled professionals from developing countries at Nazarbaev University in the development and introduction of renewable energy sources.  We have also begun funding research and development projects in developing countries.

We see Expo 2017 in Astana as not just timely in terms of the needs of our region and the broader international community.  We also believe that it has the potential to achieve long-term positive impact on people’s lives.  It will promote the sharing of innovative technologies and create new impulses for regional co-operation.


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