The creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information that can be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, and project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Activities generally include: V&A assessments, Greenhouse Gas Inventory preparation, Mitigation Analysis or Education, and awareness raising activities.The ultimate goal is the integration of climate change considerations into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.
While Kazakhstan has a rapidly growing economy, rural population, farmers and pastoralists outside of the main urban centers face significant climate change risks to their livelihoods stemming from increased aridity, water management challenges and extreme weather events. The main shift that has occurred due to temperature fluctuations is the increasingly arid climate of Kazakhstan’s desert and semi-desert areas.
The Republic of Kazakhstan is situated in north-central Eurasia and is the ninth larg- est country in the world based on the size of its territory – 2,724.9 square kilometers. It has a population of 15,219.3 thousand (as at 1 January 2006) with a density of population of 5.6 people per 1м2 . There is a higher proportion of urban population (56–57%) than rural (43–44%).
Kazakhstan’s terrain is diverse, with the country situated in four climate zones: forest-steppe; steppe; semi-desert and desert. According to assessment, nearly 75% of the country’s territory is subject to high-risk ecological destabilization.
The main source of economic growth is the country’s raw resources. Since 1985, Kazakhstan’s production of hydrocarbons has increased 225%, while at the same time the world’s output rose less than 1.3. The country’s 2005 oil production (including gas condensate) amounted to 61.9 million tonnes and the production of (natural) gas was 25.2 billion cubic meters.
Between 1998-2005, Kazakhstan’s gross national product increased 1.8 times, while the average annual GDP growth was 9.1%. GDP per capita increased by 2.5 times. However, the GDP growth is accompanied by significant polluting emissions into the environment. It is estimated that around 75% of the country is at increased risk of envi- ronmental destabilization.
The positive economic activity of recent years has seen considerable industry growth and around US$50 trillion of direct investments injected into Kazakhstan’s economy. Kazakhstan pursues an open foreign trade policy and in 2005 the volume of foreign trade turnover amounted to US$45,201.2 million which has grown more than three times since 2001. The priority investment sectors were oil and natural gas (33.9% of the total investment in fixed assets), operations involving real estate (including, geological exploration and engineering survey) at 21.1%, transport and communications at14. 8%, and industry at 10.4%.
According to the UN, of Kazakhstan’s 272.5 million hectares, 179.9 million or 66% of the total area, is prone to desertification. The damage of pasture degradation amounts to US$963 millions while loss of income due to erosion of arable land is US$779 million and secondary salinity costs US$375 millions. International experts estimate the damage due to loss of humus in Kazakhstan at US$2.5 billions. Degradation of fertile land continues, partly due to environmental reasons and the primitive technology for land cultivation. Climatic conditions result in relatively low productivity; eg., there is an average of 10 quintals per hectare a year of grain.
While Kazakhstan has a rapidly growing economy, rural population, farmers and pastoralists outside of the main urban centers face significant climate change risks to their livelihoods stemming from increased aridity, water management challenges and extreme weather events. The average annual air temperature increased by 0.31C in the 10 years since 2000, with the most rapid warming was taking place in winter. The main shift that has occurred due to this rise in temperatures is the increasingly arid climate of Kazakhstan’s desert and semi-desert areas, as well as locations adjacent to them. Degradation of glaciers has been recorded.
There was also an increasing number of forest fires detected between 2000 and 2006, wherein there were 6,415 forest fire cases recorded, resulting in 160,000 hectares being burnt (Kazakhstan, 2009). According to estimations of the first and second national Communications of the Republic of Kazakhstan within UNFCCC, management of agricultural, forest and water resources are extremely vulnerable to climate change. This is mainly associated with redistribution of precipitation and increasing severity and frequency of drought. Climate change may have a negative impact on the health of the population both because of intensification of thermal stress in southern regions and the spread of disease.
Adaptation Needs and Priorities:
Based on the projected impacts of climate change to 2100, a combination of rising temperatures, declining average rainfall, and regional deglaciation are projected to cause (Kazakhstan, 2009):
- Total disappearance of forest cover, potentially leading to practically all rainfall resulting in mudflow formation, the deposit of which on the piedmont plains would harm Kazakhstan’s most productive lands;
- Significant changes in the intra–annual distribution of the river flows, with average water flow expected to increase by 20 per cent in the third quarter of the year, and also to increase in the first and fourth quarters; water flows are expected to decline in the second quarter;
- Decreased habitat for native fauna;
- Declining rangeland water resources, leading to overstocking and erosion around remaining water resources;
- Increased erosion risks in both farmlands and rangelands;
- Increased salinization risk in irrigated farmlands;
- Changes in seasonality in sheep pastures’ availability (earlier spring season);
- Increased drought risk in rain fed farmlands (especially for wheat) and pastures;
- Reduced precipitation and the drying out of the Aral Sea could provoke a drop in ground water levels and change conditions in the forests of the Kyzylkum desert, making it unfit for growing the region’s main forest species;
- Increased overall vulnerability of forests to fires because of the observed and predicted climate conditions, especially in areas with coniferous species—pine, fir, larch and cedar—in the South and the juniper growing in the North; and
- Extreme weather impacts on human health including infant mortality.
Kazakhstan’s Second National Communication (2009) presents extensive lists of adaptation needs by sector; no prioritization between these adaptation needs appears to have been completed.
National Level Policies:
Kazakhstan has not yet initiated the development of policies directly focused on climate change adaptation. However, the country developed a desertification prevention program for 2005 to 2015 that suggests changes in vegetation plantation that were applied in other arid zones and also outlines restrictions on animal grazing to limit desertification. For future activities, a Government Commission on Climate Change is being established to address impacts and adaptation needs, including impacts on water resources, agriculture and public health.
Current Adaptation Action:
Kazakhstan is implementing a few nationally-focused adaptation projects in the agriculture and water sectors, both of which are priorities for national level adaptation. There are also projects underway in the country focused on reducing desertification, especially around the area of the Aral Sea, which could have adaptation co-benefit although this is not their stated objective. Kazakhstan is also active in several regional cooperation and adaptation initiatives, the latter of which are mostly focused on water, land and human health impacts. The country is also participating in the global program on community-based adaptation (CBA) in which projects on water management, cattle ranging and forestry are mostly being implemented.
There are also a few small-scale projects being implemented by local non-governmental organizations. Most of the funding for these initiatives is being provided through the CBA project, which is supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other funders such as Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Most of these activities are focused on agriculture and try to assist farmers to better anticipate seasonal weather changes and diversify their production. As well, there are many on-going agricultural activities that are not necessarily linked directly to adaptation, but they could be used to inform future adaptation strategies. There is quite a strong focus on regional cooperation in water management and agriculture that are important for increasing capacities at the administration and government level. However these actions often have limited involvement of the people at the local level and have limited impact on the ground.
Proposed Adaptation Action:
Kazakhstan is proposed to be part of a project submitted to the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) for consideration.
In Kazakhstan, understanding of adaptation needs and possible adaptation measures varies across sectors. For example, impacts of climate variability and the management of agriculture, including pastures, have held the interest of farmers for many years, and therefore a number of adaptation options were identified in Kazakhstan’s Second National Communication (2009). The government has already implemented programs to reconstruct and restore natural pastures in arid climate conditions, which has created relevant experiences to address future impacts and needed adaptation requirements. Similarly, with increasing desertification and precipitation variability, small-scale adaptation measures in water management have been developed.
On the other hand, there is relatively limited knowledge about the potential impacts of climate change on the occurrence of forest fires, which seem to have increased during the last decade, and potential adaptation measures.
The public health sector is in a similar situation; climate change is expected to cause negative impacts, but so far there is little information on what type of impacts and the adaptation measures that might be possible. The necessity exists to strengthen Kazakhstan’s attention on the impact of climate change and population health. Current government programs in particular do not include measures for reducing negative climate impacts on the population’s health. As well, Kazakhstan is engaged in only one (regional) project is focused on health related climate change impacts and adaptation needs. Finally, further efforts, including projects and programs, to address the impacts of climate change on economic sectors and development policies could explicitly consider the involvement of diverse groups of stakeholders.
At present, often only a small number of organizations, agencies and government departments are actually participating in the development of plans and programs. As well, greater consideration could be given to the gender implications of climate change for Kazakhstan; none of the current or proposed projects identified specifically seek to address gender-based concerns.
- Bizikova, Livia; Hove, Hilary; Parry, Jo-Ellen. (2011) “Review of Current and Planned Adaptation Action: Central Asia.” Adaptation Partnership / International Institute for Sustainable Development.
- Kazakhstan (2009). Kazakhstan’s Second National Communication to the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Astana: Ministry of Environment Protection. Retrieved from http://unfccc.int/essential_background/library/items/3599.php?such=j&symbol=KAZ/COM/2%20E#beg
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2008). Kazakhstan, Country Analysis. United Nations.
- World Bank (2010). Country Profile – Kazakhstan. Retrieved from www.worldbank.org.kz.
Key results and outputs
- Sustainable development and the integration of climate change concerns into medium- and long-term planning
- Inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases
- Measures contributing to addressing climate change
- Research and systematic observation
- Climate change impacts, adaptation measures and response strategies
- Education, training and public awareness
Potential Adaptation Measures:
Agriculture and Food Security
- Specific measures in grain production and sheep breeding
- Adaptation and use of agricultural biodiversity,
- Diversification of crop production, including high yielding,
- Advanced land tenure in preventing soil degradation, agricultural landscapes with the good moisture and fertility soils,
- Analysis and assessment of the effectiveness of new scientific achievements,
- Renewable sources of energy including bio-energy. For stable growth and adaptation to possible climate changes, it is necessary to:
- Moisture conservation culture technologies by modeling the change (shift) of atmospheric fall distribution,
- Change the tillage use structure including the cultures capable of actively absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,
- Integrate management of genetic resources: conservation, improvement and rational use of the agro–biodiversity in climate change conditions.
- develop towards arid and mini-water technologies;
- increase of the proportion of ground-water usage;
- transfer some part of the river flow inside and outside the regions.
- making projections and modernizing dams to catch overflows in the high mountain zone of the Malaya Almatynka and Kumbel’ basins;
- carrying out construction work in the city of Almaty and the sports complex hosting the 2011 Winter Asiatic Olympic Games, considering the high vulnerability of its sill dam and providing strong safe structures.
- undertaking organizational measures on introducing the super short– term forecasts of mudflows from rainfalls.
- consider the climate change impact to the forestry sector in the national strategyand programs;
- select species and types of wood due to the climate change impact and to assess capacity for providing raw wood to the population needs;
- take into account climate change impact when developing effective planting technologies;
- amend the normative legal base and reference literature;
- elaborate the concrete steps for this sector adaptation depending on the localconditions and requirements of the landscape planning;
- justify budget financing for securing the forestry function in present and future climate conditions;
- advance and update education and training courses
- an improved legislation base;
- sustainable building solutions in response to changing climate conditions; and
- measures to control infectious and non-infectious population diseases.
Reports and publications
Monitoring and evaluation
In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.
Parties to the Convention must submit national reports on implementation of the Convention to the Conference of the Parties (COP). The required contents of national communications and the timetable for their submission are different for Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This is in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the Convention.
The core elements of the national communications for both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties are information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and details of the activities a Party has undertaken to implement the Convention. National communications usually contain information on national circumstances, vulnerability assessment, financial resources and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness.
Since 1994, governments have invested significant time and resources in the preparation, collection and validation of data on GHG emissions, and the COP has made determined efforts to improve the quality and consistency of the data, which are ensured by established guidelines for reporting. Non-Annex I Parties receive financial and technical assistance in preparing their national communications, facilitated by the UNFCCC secretariat.