No. 51 – September 2015
Author: Sara Silvi
The Republic of Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world, with a surface of 2,7 million square kilometers inhabited by less than 20 million people. The country, located in the northern part of Central Asia, became independent in December 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and is nowadays one of the major success stories among the former countries of the URSS, having achieved a rapid double-digit growth rate after his declaration of sovereignty. The country is indeed blessed with a significant amount of energy resources such as oil, gas, coal and uranium, which boosted the economic recovery and growth after the deep crisis of its first year of independence. Nevertheless, the energy and mining sectors were not only an important source of exports, monetary income and employment, but also represented a huge stress factor for the environment of the Republic which began to suffer serious harm during the Soviet period. The country has to face several environmental issues: the over pollution of the Caspian sea, the disappearing, and now recovering, Aral Sea, nuclear and radioactive pollution in the Semipalatinsk area, industrial untreated wastes, land degradation and desertification, water contamination, wildlife’s danger of extinction. After decades of mistreatment, the Kazakh land is today in serious ecological danger. If Kazakhstan still has a long way to go to recover the current environmental situation, the Government has made significant progress in managing, developing and improving the legal framework to sustain the ecological protection. Making Sustainable Development a priority, the authorities aim at achieving a balance between economic growth and environment protection: they adopted new legal codes, integrated environmental old-ones, adopted international regulations and signed several multilateral and international environmental agreements. Mobilizing financial resources for the environment is a constant and urgent need for the local budget. The key challenge of Kazakhstan is to anchor economic growth not only to the mineral and industrial wealth, but also to the enormous green potential of a land kissed by the sun and crossed by the winds.