103 of the 161 member states of the International Expositions Bureau (BIE) voted in Paris on November 22 in favour of Astana’s bid to host the International EXPO 2017 on the theme of “Future Energy”. This is the first time that a BIE event has been awarded to a city on the territory of the former Soviet Union. BIE countries chose between the bids of Astana and the Belgian city of Liège.
EXPO 2017 will take place in Astana between June 10 and September 10 2017
Astana’s victory is the culmination of a long promotional campaign to persuade BIE member states of the advantages of Astana’s bid that will address the urgent challenge of developing alternative energy solutions in a city that symbolises the spirit of innovation.
Before the vote on November 22, Deputy Prime Minister Kelimbetov addressed the BIE General Assembly and explained that Kazakhstan’s EXPO 2017 reflects the country’s commitment to “green” its economy in line with President Nazarbayev’s initiatives to protect the planet. These began with the decisions to shut down the world’s largest nuclear testing site and voluntarily give up the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal.
The Deputy Prime Minister outlined the steps that Kazakhstan has already taken to promote renewable energy sources and transition to a green economy. He also pointed out that Kazakhstan is committed to helping developing countries find alternative sources of energy: “An EXPO-2017 Assistance Fund is already up and running in Kazakhstan. Its aim is to support research in future energy and it will help train skilled professionals from developing countries at Nazarbayev University in the development and introduction of renewable energy sources. We have already begun funding research and development projects in developing countries”, Mr Kelimbetov said.
Astana’s EXPO 2017 bid builds on Kazakhstan’s initiative to establish a “Green Bridge Partnership” to bring together governments, international organizations and private business to find transnational solutions to sustainable growth. At a regional level, the initiative aims to address many issues in Central Asia and the CIS that are related to energy and environmental security, including water.
By hosting EXPO-2017, Astana intends to be a showcase for demonstrating the latest global developments in these areas and become a hub for developing alternative energy solutions across Central Asia.
Kazakhstan has enormous potential in renewable energy, particularly in wind and solar. Wind power can potentially produce 25 times more energy in a year than is currently produced from its hydrocarbons. The Government also sees vast opportunities to conserve energy, including at the consumer end by 50-60%. Urgent steps are already being taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Kazakhstan will be the first CIS country to launch a cap and trade system starting in January 2013.