EXPO 2017 ASTANA: Future Energy
Danara Zharbolova from ACBK (BirdLife Kazakhstan) and Stephanie Ward from RSPB (BirdLife UK) reflect back on a successful joint showcase at EXPO 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan – a very fitting celebration of over thirteen years of successful collaboration as BirdLife partners.
From June to September this year, Kazakhstan’s capital became the world’s capital of energy innovation as the city of Astana played host to EXPO 2017 – Future Energy. With showcases from more than 100 countries, this international exposition sought to open a constructive global debate amongst governments, NGOs, companies and the public on one of the great challenges of our time: how do we ensure safe and sustainable energy for all while reducing CO2 emissions? Our Kazakh and British partners, ACBK and RSPB, were right at the heart of the action to showcase the results of over thirteen years of fruitful partnership in local nature conservation.
Nature – Energy for a Nation
The ACBK-RSPB exhibition, located in the British Pavilion, presented highlights from our joint initiatives to study and protect rare species and important habitats in Kazakhstan, as well as our long-running efforts to raise awareness of nature protection amongst the general public. With our showcase theme, ‘Nature – Energy for a Nation’, we sought to highlight how “green energy” is making sure we have clean air, water and intact ecosystems; only with a healthy natural environment can a country look forward to a bright and prosperous future.
EXPO 2017 gathered thousands of visitors from across the world, and our showcase was particularly popular, engaging with some 30,000 people over the three months. Visitors were particularly drawn to our field equipment, displayed in the middle of the exhibition space. Here they could take a close look at the satellite tracking collars that we use for wolf and saiga antelope, camera traps, the humane Longworth trap and, of course, satellite trackers for birds. From our side, it was such a pleasure to see how many people were genuinely passionate about nature conservation, with many people expressing an interest in joining our work as ACBK volunteers.
Business and biodiversity
Always on the lookout for more nature conscious allies in the corporate world, we attended a business breakfast side event, entitled ‘Business and Biodiversity in Kazakhstan’. At this informal meeting, attended by representatives of both business and government, we talked about the need for businesses to take proper responsibility for the environmental impacts of their operations and how they can support nature conservation efforts.
ACBK already has experience in this area; for some years now, many major Kazakh companies of Kazakhstan have been involved in our projects. Notably, TransCom supports our work in protecting rare species of geese, and Carlsberg Kazakhstan has been participating in our project aimed at studying and protecting the snow leopard.
Visions of the Future
For the exhibition, we also prepared videos in Kazakh, Russian and English that were played on screens around the exhibition space. In one of the videos we presented the idea of creating the first urban nature reserve in Central Asia – a vision to protect the valuable natural wetland and steppe ecosystems on the edge of Astana. The RSPB has an integral role in making this vision a reality, sharing their vast experience in creating and managing over 200 nature reserves in the UK and beyond. We believe that the creation of this little corner (13,000 hectares!) of wilderness in such proximity to the city will increase the citizens’ awareness of nature, and their sense of responsibility for nature. We hope you will visit us when this vision becomes a reality!
Danara Zharbolova – Head of Communications, ACBK (BirdLife Kazakhstan)
Stephanie Ward – Central Asia Partner Development Officer, RSPB.
Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.