Ecology • 10 February, 2020

Review: How environmental safety ensured in Kazakhstan?

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Technological progress entails a deterioration of the environment. Kazakhstan with a vast territory and large natural resources is no exception. However, the country's leadership pays priority attention to improving the environment, expanding the use of renewable energy sources, cultivating a respect for nature. The President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in his Address to the People of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Constructive Public Dialogue – the Basis of Stability and Prosperity of Kazakh Citizens” instructed the Government to intensify work in these areas. In 2019, a comprehensive work was done, the results of which are visible today. Journalists of prepared a review on how environmental policy is implemented in the country.

The main event in the field of ecology in 2019 was the creation of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The creation of a central executive body is called upon to improve the country's environmental policy and create conditions for the intensive development of the waste management industry.


New Environmental Code – A Brand New Document

The right of citizens to a favorable environment is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Basic Law states: "The state sets as its goal the protection of an environment favorable to human life and health."

This constitutional provision was further developed in the Environmental Code, which has been in force in Kazakhstan since 2007.

In 2019, leading experts and the business community did a lot of work to develop a new Environmental Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which is based on the best international experience. In December, at a regular meeting of the Government chaired by Prime Minister Askar Mamin, the draft new version of the Environmental Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan was approved.

The Code consists of seven basic principles, the main of which is “the polluter pays and corrects.”

The amendments provide for the application of the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure only for large enterprises of the “first category,” and not for all nature users. At the same time, the public will participate in all stages of the assessment, and not once at the stage of environmental impact assessment.

Since 2025, comprehensive environmental permits will be applied for large facilities of the “first category” and a mechanism of the best available technologies will be introduced, aimed at reducing environmental emissions. Companies that switched to these technologies are exempted from the payment for emission taxes; for the rest, the rates of payment for emissions will gradually increase 2, 4, 8 times every three years, starting in 2028 (from 2025 for the top 50 large enterprises).

Obtaining the permits will become mandatory for newly introduced enterprises. At the same time, local executive bodies are obliged to spend 100% of incoming environmental payments to finance environmental measures.

The draft Code provides for the creation of an automated system for monitoring the volume of emissions of harmful substances into the environment by the largest polluting enterprises.

The Code excludes the procedure for prior notification of verification of an enterprise on an environmental violation and complaints through the media, which will allow authorized state bodies to immediately respond and prevent damage to the environment. At the same time, administrative fines for environmental violations will be increased 10 times.

The draft of the new edition of the Environmental Code also introduces a 5-step hierarchy of waste and mandatory “phasing” in the treatment of waste: prevention / minimization of waste – reuse, recycling, utilization – landfill.

Waste classification will be made in accordance with the European waste catalog, covering both non-hazardous and hazardous waste.

At the same time, the Waste to Energy mechanism is being introduced, that is, waste incineration with the subsequent generation of electricity by analogy with renewable energy sources. This will make it possible to reduce waste volumes to 30% by 2025 and attract investments worth more than 180 billion tenge.


Conservation of natural resources: Increased number of rare ungulates

Natural resources are not endless. They must be protected, saved and restored. In this regard, a lot of work is being done in Kazakhstan.

The conservation of natural resources was carried out within the framework of the Strategic and Operational Plan of the Ministry, as well as the work plan of the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife, all the target indicators identified by these plans have been achieved.



In 2019, an increase in the reproduction of forests is noted in the country. With a forest planting plan of 59.8 thousand hectares, 63.9 thousand ha have been planted.

In 2019, there was a decrease in the area covered by forest fires. At the same time, large forest fires took place in the Zhambyl and Kostanay regions.

Measures are being taken to preserve saxaul plantations. So, last year, the moratorium on all types of logging was extended until 2023, while saxaul plantings are recovering.


Protected Areas

In 2019, measures were launched to expand the territory of the Burabay National Park and the Barsakelmes Reserve. This year it is planned to create a new national park “Ulytau,” which will cover the steppe ecosystems of Central Kazakhstan.

The state program for the development of inbound and domestic tourism has identified 10 priority tourist areas, which include 6 national parks.

To implement the program, the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with business representatives, developed a master plan for the development of ecological tourism in the Ile-Alatau National Park, on the basis of which corresponding changes were made to the general plan of the national park. Tentatively, the amount of investment in the development of eco-tourism in the Ile-Alatau National Park will be about 27 billion tenge.

Similar master plans have been developed for the national natural parks Altyn-Emel, Charyn and Kolsay kolderi. These measures will give a new impetus to the development of ecotourism, creating new jobs and providing domestic businesses with the opportunity to profit from tourism.

In 2019, a number of amendments were introduced aimed at increasing the legal protection of the lands of the state forest fund, preserving and increasing the area of ​​forest stands.

Tasks for 2020 in the field of forestry and specially protected natural areas:

  • Developing of the bill "On the Plant World" and its introduction into the Majilis of the Parliament;
  • Studying the issue of approving the Concept for Conservation and Rational Use of Biological Diversity in Kazakhstan until 2030;
  • Creating the Step-by-Step Plan to achieve the indicators of forest reproduction and afforestation;
  • Taking the necessary measures to preserve existing forests from illegal logging and forest fires;
  • Completing measures to expand existing and create a new national park;
  • Taking the necessary measures to make potential investors fulfill their obligations.


Animal world

An annual increase in the number of rare ungulates and saigas is observed, the population of the latter has reached 334 thousand individuals.

Unfortunately, while protecting the wildlife in 2019, three inspectors died. In connection with the tragic events, the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed to take drastic and urgent measures to combat poaching.

In order to fulfill this order, the ministry, together with law enforcement agencies, amended the criminal law. In addition, amendments were adopted to strengthen the protection of the life and health of inspectors.

In 2020, work will be carried out to determine the places of smuggling of saiga horns in the border areas, as well as possible organized criminal groups;

Through diplomatic channels to notify China, Russia and Kyrgyzstan about the problems of smuggling of derivatives and further develop a set of joint activities;

To increase the effectiveness of the Okhotzooprom. For what purpose the Concept of enterprise development has been developed, which provides for measures to improve the work of the inspectors.

To reduce the pressure on the natural populations of wild animals, it is necessary to develop game breeding, which is one of the promising areas in the development of the hunting economy. For this purpose, the relevant amendments to legislative acts have been introduced.

At the same time, in order to preserve and increase the number of rare animals, work is underway to reintroduce them into historical habitats.

In addition, for the reproduction of rare birds in the Turkistan region, with the support of the International Fund for the Conservation of Bustard-Beauty, a Center for its reproduction was built, which in the reporting year released more than 6 thousand species into nature.



There has been an increase in the volume of commercial fish farming, last year about 4.8 thousand tons of fish were grown, growth is projected to 5 thousand tons by 2021.

As a result of fish processing, about 25 thousand tons of products totaling $58 million were exported last year.

Today, 17 fish processing enterprises have the right to export fish products to the EU countries and 64 enterprises can export fish products to the Chinese market.

To preserve fish resources in the spring of 2019, the Bekire-2019 large-scale fish conservation campaign was held in the western region of the country in order to ensure unhindered passage of fish, including sturgeon species, to spawning sites.

In addition, the environmental action “Clean Water Basins” was carried out in order to clean water areas from abandoned and illegally established fishing nets and clean up coastal areas.

Measures are being taken to preserve the Caspian seal. In July 2019, the Caspian Seal Research Program was signed in the Northern Caspian for 2019-2023.

In August 2019, the first in Kazakhstan Center for the Study and Rehabilitation of the Caspian Seal was opened in Aktau at the expense of patrons.

In addition, during a meeting with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, an agreement was reached on the development of a joint Action Plan for the conservation of the Caspian seal population.

However, there are the following problematic issues:

Firstly, the shadow turnover of fish products.

To this end, the issue of creating a fish traceability information system integrated with the systems of veterinary and customs authorities is being studied.

Secondly, it is poaching. To combat poaching, it is necessary to use modern means, for which we have developed changes to existing standards.

Along with this, there is the problem of using monofilament networks, which are banned from importing, using and selling.

However, in 2019, such networks were removed from retail outlets during joint events.

It should be noted that in 2019 important amendments were introduced to allow the transfer of fishing reservoirs for aquaculture, monitoring the turnover of fish products, and the automation of tenders for securing land and water reservoirs.

Tasks for 2020 in the field of fisheries:

  • Adoption of a program document on fisheries development;
  • Taking measures to improve legislation in the field of fisheries;
  • Studying the implementation of the information system for traceability of the turnover of fish products.


In 2019, 21 villages provided with drinking water

The world community recognizes the problem of water supply as one of the most important goals of sustainable development. Over the past 60 years on the planet, its consumption has increased eight times. By 2050, it is predicted that up to 80% of the world’s countries may be classified as water-deficient by the UN classification.

Kazakhstan became one of the countries experiencing high water stress, where it took 60th place out of 68 states and is particularly vulnerable to water resources and related ecological systems.

The uneven distribution of fresh water throughout the territory, seasonal and long-term instability of river flow, the formation of a significant part of it outside the state, and pollution of water sources pose a threat to further socio-economic development.

At present, the situation with water supply in the country still satisfies the requirements of economic sectors and the population. At the same time, it is obvious that water supply problems will only grow.

Most water facilities were built during the Soviet period and at the moment they both physically and morally have a large percentage of deterioration.

At a meeting of the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan on June 26, 2019, these threats to the country's water security were also noted.

In 2019, work began on assessing and accounting for water resources and the water infrastructure, increasing the efficiency of water use, developing an educational and research base, protecting national interests in the field of transboundary water use, as well as normative and institutional strengthening of the water industry.

In terms of ensuring reliable and safe operation of the republican hydraulic structures, work worth 11 billion tenge was performed at the expense of the republican budget.

For the reconstruction of seven hydraulic structures, 1.2 billion tenge was allocated and mastered.

In the reporting year, 6.5 billion tenge was allocated at the beginning of the reconstruction of five emergency reservoirs.

Of these, in 2019, work was completed at the Tauschaga reservoir, and work continues on the remaining four.

In addition, the reconstruction of the hydroelectric complex on the Bolshaya Bukon River with the Aktogan main canal of the Kokpektinsky district and the Uydeninsky head water intake of the Zaysan district of East Kazakhstan region was completed.

At the expense of the Government’s reserve funds, repair and restoration work was carried out at the Aitek hydroelectric complex in the Kyzylorda region and the reconstruction of the Aspara hydroelectric complex with a feed path in the Zhambyl region for a total of 400.2 million tenge. This allowed to reduce the risk of flooding of six settlements in the Kyzylorda region and created conditions for supplying water to 10 thousand hectares of irrigated land in the Merken district of Zhambyl region.

In the plan for 2020, it is planned to complete work on five hydraulic structures and four emergency reservoirs.

In terms of providing the population with drinking water in 2019, 7 billion tenge were allocated and disbursed for the implementation of 11 projects for group water pipelines, of which 4 projects were completed and put into operation by the end of the year, and the rest were ongoing.

As a result, 205.4 km of networks were built, 21 rural settlements were provided with drinking water (in 5 water supply pipelines to the final consumer and highways were connected to 16), and water supply in 18 pipelines was improved.

In 2020, 8.4 billion tenge is provided for the implementation of 12 projects, of which 4 projects are planned to be completed before the end of this year. As a result, 3 settlements will be provided with drinking water and water supply in 37 SNPs will be improved.

However, on this issue, it is necessary to note the lack of an integrated approach to the implementation of water supply and sanitation projects in rural areas. So, situations arose when the constructed group water supply system could not supply water to the settlement due to the unavailability of intra-settlement networks, or vice versa. A vivid example of this is the situation with the May group water supply system, through which work was completed in 2019, but water is not supplied to consumers due to the lack of distribution networks.

In this regard, local executive bodies need to coordinate their plans with those of the Ministry.

Regarding the implementation of the instructions of the First President – Elbasy to increase the area of ​​irrigated land by attracting funds from international financial organizations, the irrigation infrastructure is being restored.

In 2017-2018, infrastructure was restored on an area of ​​80 thousand hectares, in 2019 according to the plan it was planned to restore 124 thousand hectares, in fact 66 thousand hectares were restored. This is due to the difficulties in obtaining co-financing from the republican budget to attract funds from international financial organizations.

Another problem is the financial difficulties encountered by the RSE Kazvodkhoz regarding the repayment of borrowed funds from international financial organizations. In this regard, it is necessary to review the existing approaches in the tariff policy.

However, it is worth noting that of the 80 thousand hectares of land restored in 2018, only 49 thousand hectares were used for their intended purpose. This shows that many restored irrigated lands are not used. In this part, it is proposed that further planning for the reconstruction and development of the irrigation structure be carried out after the Akimats have submitted plans for the development of irrigated agriculture and only taking into account the use of water-saving technologies. The basis for starting work should be an appropriate agreement between the ministry and the local executive body.


Water cooperation with neighboring countries

Cooperation with neighboring countries in the use and protection of transboundary rivers is one of the priority areas of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources.

In relations with the People's Republic of China, the key issue is the issue of water allocation. In October 2019, in Beijing, at a meeting of the Joint Commission, agreements were reached on the integrated accounting of water rights, the interests of the development and conservation of the ecosystems of the Parties.

In water cooperation with the Russian Federation, the main problem is the decrease in the water content of the Zhaiyk River, and as a result, the ecological condition of its floodplain and delta is worsened.

At the XVI Forum of Inter-Regional Cooperation of Kazakhstan and Russia, held in November 2019 in Omsk, agreements were reached on the development and adoption of the Program for the Improvement of the Zhaiyk River Basin Ecosystem between the Governments of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation. Work in this direction continues.

In cooperation with the countries of Central Asia on the Syr Darya river basin, the main issue is the operation mode of the Naryn-Syr Darya cascade of reservoirs. So, every year during the growing season, the problem is the receipt in full of irrigation water discharged from the Toktogul reservoir, including through the reception of electricity by the Kazakh side. In the reporting year, due to the exchange of electricity with Kyrgyzstan, the necessary amount of irrigation water was provided for agricultural producers of the Maktaral and Zhetysai districts of the Turkistan region.

In cooperation with the Kyrgyz Republic on the Shu and Talas rivers, the main problem is the systematic non-compliance by the Kyrgyz side of the agreed water supply schedules for interstate water channels in the Shu river basin. Following a series of negotiations, it was possible to achieve the receipt of 64% of irrigation water from the planned schedule.

The Talas River Basin has been supplied in accordance with the agreed schedule.

At the last meeting of the Kazakh-Kyrgyz Commission on the Shu and Talas Rivers, agreements were reached on the provision in full of water to agricultural producers of the Zhambyl region, depending on the water availability of the year.

In addition, measures are being taken to openness, accessibility and transparency of the ministry's activities in order to engage the public and analyze the estimated cost of projects. A scientific and technical council has been created from among honored water workers, public and scientific figures. And one of the positive results of this measure has already become the return in 2019 to the budget of 900 million tenge for the object “Reconstruction of the May group conduit.”

To prevent suppliers from violating the deadlines for commissioning new tenders, contracts will be concluded with special conditions under which payment is provided for work only based on the results of the 6-month planned amount. This will eliminate the participation of insolvent contractors in tenders, make it unreasonable to conspire between the customer and the contractor on the accepted amount of work, and reduce the risk of delays in the implementation of projects.

Claims work strengthened. So, starting from the fourth quarter of 2019, the Committee initiated and filed a lawsuit against the revealed violations for 23 claims totaling 10.6 billion tenge, of which 585.4 million tenge were secured for collection, 153.4 million tenge were collected in budget revenue.


Under the Water Resources Management Program, about 500 hydraulic structures to be reconstructed

The Head of the State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, at an extended Government session held on Jan. 24, voiced the need to develop a State Water Management Program.

On Jan. 28,2020, at a Government session chaired by Prime Minister Askar Mamin, the Concept of the draft Water Management Program for Kazakhstan for 2020-2030 was considered.

Kazakhstan’s water management program for 2020–2030 aims to maintain a water balance of 100 cubic meters by 2030. km due to an increase in additional surface water resources: construction of new reservoirs by 5-7 cubic meters. km, water saving up to 5 cubic meters km, groundwater use up to 15 cubic km.

By the indicated period, it is planned to reduce water consumption per unit of GDP from 91.2 to 73 cubic meters. m for $1 thousand, to build 26 new hydraulic structures, to reconstruct 182 republican, 300 communal hydraulic structures.

The document provides for the construction of new irrigation systems to increase irrigated land from 1.7 to 3 million hectares, an increase in the length of the lined main and distribution channels from 3,423 to 19 thousand km.

The material and technical equipment of the basin inspections will be increased to 100% of the supply, and the forest cover of the catchment areas from 1 to 200 thousand ha.

Kazakhstan’s water management program for 2020-2030 will include 10 main areas: international cooperation, updating the legal framework, institutional reform, modernization and reconstruction of the water management infrastructure, studying international best practices for creating a water market, digitalizing the water sector, implementing the Smart Water project, environmentally optimal use of water resources, training of water industry specialists with modern skills and implementation of important national water projects.


Transition to a green economy is the main principle of effective policy

The Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan is carrying out comprehensive work on the introduction of renewable energy sources in Kazakhstan. The international exhibition Expo-2017 on the theme "Future Energy" gave a serious impetus to the development of renewable energy in the country. On the initiative of the First President – Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev, the International Center for Green Technologies and Investment Projects was created, which promotes joint projects in the field of high-tech industries. The authorities have established effective relationships with numerous international financial institutions and strategic partners in the promotion and development of renewable energy, clean technology and infrastructure. Moreover, Kazakhstan promotes international cooperation for sustainable development through the Green Bridge Partnership Program.

In 2013, by Decree of the Head of State, the Concept of Kazakhstan's transition to a green economy was adopted. Sectors were identified in which there is great potential for greening the economy of Kazakhstan. It is planned to increase the share of renewable energy in the total volume of electricity production up to 3% by 2020, 10% by 2030 and 50% by 2050.

Also in 2013, the concept of fixed tariffs and a single buyer of renewable energy of the Settlement and Financial Center was introduced. Contracts concluded between investors and the Settlement and Financial Center are approaching 3 thousand megawatts. To date, 81 facilities with an installed capacity of 930 megawatts are already operating. In the near future, new facilities will be gradually introduced in the country's energy balance.

Kazakhstan has significant potential for using renewable energy sources, which can contribute to sustainable economic development and its growth.

The potential of wind energy in Kazakhstan is 10 times higher than the projected needs of the country in electricity by 2030. Kazakhstan has adopted primary legislation in renewable energy sector and established support measures, such as access to the electricity system and preferential tariffs. Nevertheless, Kazakhstan is the only state in the region that has the ability to generate both solar and wind energy, which contributes to the desire to develop renewable energy.

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