Honorable Prime Minister Mamin, Ministers, and colleagues from the non-government sector.
On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme I would like to thank you for this opportunity to address the members of the Council on Transition to a Green Economy under the President of Kazakhstan.
First of all, Prime minister, Ministers, allow me to express our solidarity with your and the entire country’s efforts to cope with the covid-19 pandemic. I also would like to renew our gratitude to the health workers relentlessly trying to keep us healthy. We stand ready to support the Government in all its efforts.
It is already proven that this pandemic (along with others before) originated due to the disruption of the balance between the nature and the economy. That is why at UNDP we believe that the Green Economy is an opportunity to rebalance nature, climate and economy. This is closely linked to nature based solutions that allow for supporting new social safety nets, innovative public private partnerships in areas such as ecotourism and green transport, sustainable agricultural practices, as well as the health sector itself, being closely linked to environmental practices. Green technologies are key enablers in all of these areas.
We commend Kazakhstan for already having a concept for transitioning to the Green Economy and a council that monitors its implementation at the highest level.
As the Government is now revising its plans and strategies, in particular the 2025 Strategic Development Plan, we think it is important to find a place for Green Economy in this medium-term development policy. Investments in Green Economy need to be prioritized and monitoring systems, linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, have to be in place. This is a prerequisite for restoring the economy through a new approach. To quote the UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner “Our task is to build back better and greener”.
This meeting already shows that the Government is giving importance to the Green Economy policies. A low-emission development strategy and a new law revising the Ecological Code are being pursued. We are also pleased with continued commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through a number of measures that we are proud to support.
The most recent IRENA research sets out that the value of decarbonizing the global economy by 2050 would be eight times the cost, taking health and education benefits into account. Cumulative global GDP would grow by USD 98 trillion above business-as-usual between now and 2050 and renewable energy jobs would quadruple to 42 million. As governments determine how to invest, they have a choice to make: stimulate fossil fuel industries and other remnants of the way things were or invest in an inclusive green economy.
Investments in the green economy in our view present an opportunity to accelerate socio-economic development. Green economy is at the core of supporting businesses that look for new opportunities to grow, supporting local communities for their livelihoods that can be done in a way to reduce inequalities because it can actually be made to serve the most vulnerable.
In its new 5-year strategy, UNDP in Kazakhstan identified green economy as a key priority. We acknowledge green economy as an accelerator for other areas of development as it is expected to generate new jobs and support economic diversification, in addition to addressing environmental issues. With this approach, we believe we can work even more closely with the government and other stakeholders.
Speaking of our programme in Kazakhstan, which spans for more than 25 years of fruitful cooperation, we have been implementing around 100 initiatives supporting the transition to Green Economy with a total budget of $100mln.
We have circulated with the council members a presentation that shows examples of our work. There are many points to make out of our experience but allow me to highlight two of them: Contribution of green economy to regional development and importance of engagement with the private sector.
Through our experience we have witnessed how green economy contributes to regional development. Thirteen regions in the country benefited from low-carbon urban development plans. Just an example, in East Kazakhstan we worked on the rehabilitation of the pasture lands for an area of 247000 hectares. There are further opportunities to grasp, and we are ready to work with you on this.
We also see new opportunities with the private sector through new financial instruments. This can be accelerated, scaled up, and strategically invested in the energy efficiency sector as well as in the renewables. The best example is our work with DAMU in the form of a new financial mechanism for low-carbon projects in the form of energy efficiency subsidies. These attracted more than 100 projects from businesses, 37 of which got financing in the amount of 4.7bn tenge. More could be done if this becomes a sustainable mechanism and the energy efficiency legislation is amended as proposed by us with the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development. UNDP is launching a green finance accelerator to support the diversification of such innovative financing instruments towards green bonds, factoring and other mechanisms.
Green economy is not limited to energy work. We mean beyond this and are very much interested in biodiversity also as an engine to support local economic growth, private sector, as well as communities while preserving the critical commitments around biodiversity. We have already seen many examples where those efforts could also turn into tangible and valuable economic assets for communities such as projects on ecotourism development in East and South Kazakhstan. The 2nd phase of the Eco-Damu micro-credit schemes for communities living around the protected areas will be launched soon as an example of a sustainable financing mechanism.
I would like to conclude by underlining the importance of new partnerships, which have helped us leverage new investments in green economy. At the last meeting we have informed about our new partnership with a blockchain company to support afforestation through a carbon offsetting mechanism. Now we are working with a multinational company to support renewable energy solutions in schools in South Kazakhstan.
We also continue bringing grant funding from the Global Environmental Facility (a $15mln portfolio is in the pipeline). A new partnership with the Green Climate Fund and European Investment Bank is planned for the near future. We see such investments needed to stimulate and support private sector as the engine of growth that could shoulder a fair share of Kazakhstan's transition to a green economy. To kickstart such projects, we work with the Government on a predictable mechanism of co-financing for our projects that has proven until today to be effective and efficient for the state.
I appreciate your attention and wish you very productive and successful discussions.