Kazakhstan’s new EcoCode endorsed to protect & restore nature

Kazakhstan’s new EcoCode endorsed to protect & restore nature
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BIOFIN Kazakhstan’s work on the creation of legislative frameworks for the implementation of six new innovative finance solutions, with the aim of protecting and restoring the country’s nature, is already gaining support at the highest levels in the country.  

These recommendations have been folded into a new Environmental Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan which was endorsed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in January 2021. 

The legislative proposals from BIOFIN Kazakhstan included a host of initiatives that will help protect and restore the country’s nature, including biodiversity offsets, voluntary payments for ecosystem services, principles of sustainable ecotourism, and the development of methods and approvals for calculating greenhouse gas emissions, including in the forest sector.

This represents a groundbreaking development in the country and can serve as an example to many countries around the world looking to take similar steps. The biodiversity offsets approach for instance will allow biodiversity to be incorporated into decision-making, greening Kazakhstan’s development trajectory.

For ecotourism, these developments will not only ensure enough income for protected areas and to safeguard the natural environment from tourism-related pressures, but also bring considerable benefits to small business and local communities. 

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A new green code

Under the new Environment Code of Kazakhstan (EcoCode), the strategic environmental assessment and impact assessment on the environment will:

  1. Identify negative impacts of projects on biodiversity through research. 
  2. Provide measures to avoid, minimize negative impacts on biodiversity and mitigate such impacts. 
  3. In case of detection of risk of biodiversity loss, an assessment of the loss of biodiversity will be carried out and measures to compensate for them will be provided, while measures to compensate for the loss of biodiversity are subject to mandatory implementation. 

Long-term, the use of biodiversity offsets will increase business responsibility for biodiversity, introduce biodiversity issues into sectoral planning, and mobilize financial resources for animal and plant conservation.

In this way the mechanism of biodiversity offsets in the new EcoCode will enable better evaluation and decision-making for conserving biodiversity during the planning stages of infrastructure projects. Considering the fact that Kazakhstan is an industrial country, the requirements for forecasting and preventing, mitigating the risks of biodiversity loss will strengthen the environmental responsibility of businesses and have a considerable positive impact on conservation efforts.

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New ecotourism measures

BIOFIN Kazakhstan is also working to develop incentives at the national level for the development of ecotourism. 

For these purposes, the new Environmental Code establishes mandatory principles of ecotourism for the use of protected areas and recreational lands. These principles include the obligation to: 

  1. Ensure that the number of tourists visiting does not put excessive pressure on attractions; 
  2. to avoid harm to the environment;
  3. to choose vehicles for transporting tourists that do not harm the sites; 
  4. to collect and manage solid waste safely; 
  5. to provide information to tourists about the natural environment they are visiting; 
  6. to involve the local population in the organization and delivery of tours and to ensure they benefit from tourism economically.

The legislation also provides for the involvement of a local community in the development of ecotourism in national parks in order to increase their economic activity and benefit from new initiatives.

On the proposal of BIOFIN Kazakhstan, the new EcoCode also approved a norm that allows the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources to develop and approve a methodological document on the preparation of greenhouse gas emissions calculations. 

This methodological document and a number of new rules allowing the implementation of forest carbon projects in Kazakhstan were prepared by BIOFIN in 2020 as part of the finance solution “Increase financing for forest augmentation through carbon offsets”. These legal regulations will allow an increase is financing for forest augmentation through carbon offsets.

Also, studies on the assessment of ecosystem services and biodiversity are included in the EcoCode as one of the resources for scientific environmental research, which can be financed from the State budget. 

Strengthening the EcoCode of Republic of Kazakhstan for nature protection and creating new mechanisms for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is a great step forward for the country and confirmation of a clear understanding of the "finiteness" of natural capital, and the need to manage it with care.