21 May 2020, Nur-Sultan - World’s leading scientists and environmental policy experts met with national stakeholders to create ‘maps of hope’ that identify the Kazakhstan’s essential life support areas (ELSAs). These maps will guide where actions to protect, manage, and restore nature can enable Kazakhstan to deliver on its strategic priorities for biodiversity, climate, and sustainable development.

The ELSAs are defined as areas that together conserve critical biodiversity and provide humans with essential ecosystem services, such as carbon storage, food, fresh water, water filtration, and disaster risk reduction. There does not yet exist a scientific framework or decision support tools that can help policymakers to identify ELSAs, to prioritize conservation and restoration based on their national needs and priorities. This initiative will address the gap.

 “The priority objective is to support countries to use spatial data to identify actions, support planning efforts, and inform policy and management decisions that contribute toward achieving the emerging post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and other key international climate and sustainable development commitments,” stated Yakup Beris, UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan, along with Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, and Uganda, is one of five pilot countries that will create these ‘maps of hope’. The outcomes from this initiative will be used by UNDP to scale-up action globally.

“The development and implementation of government policies affecting the nature require accessible data on habitats and current status of important species, ecosystems and land use, and major biodiversity areas. There is also a growing demand for information on ecosystem services and natural capital, both from government bodies at all levels, users of natural resources – farmers and businesses, and research and educational institutions,” said Askhat Kainarbekov, Chair of Forestry and Wildlife Committee, Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of Kazakhstan.

Over the coming 12 months, 196 countries will agree on a new set of global goals for biodiversity that will guide action for the next 30 years, as well as an associated international policy framework. Also in the next year, the Paris Agreement on climate change will go into effect, with countries expected to take action to dramatically reduce their carbon emissions. The results from this project will be used to influence both of these key international policy processes.

The meeting was supported by UNDP, Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources, National Geographic Society, with the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Global Environment Facility. 

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