York and Kazakh Researchers meet in Astana for British Council Workshop on Sustainable Cities.
“Sustainability and urbanisation” was the theme for the first British Council Newton-Al-Farabi Researcher Links Workshop in Astana, Kazakhstan from 26-30 January 2015.
Professor Alistair Boxall from the University of York’s Environment Department who co-organised the programme thanked the Newton-Al Farabi Partnership Programe, the British Council and the L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University for their generous support of the Researcher Links Workshop.
“We are delighted to be here in Astana, which is one of the world’s fastest growing cities, to discuss the environmental and social impacts of rapid urbanization in and beyond Kazakhstan. The workshop brings together senior policy makers from national and local government, academic experts and early career researchers from UK universities and the L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University to look at the challenges facing rapidly urbanizing cities and how new research technologies and research methodologies can help us to better address the issues.”
Professor Boxall went on to add:
“This is also a great opportunity to build research links between UK universities and our counterparts in Kazakhstan and we hope that the workshop will generate future collaborations in terms of research exchanges, grant applications and scientific publications.”
The welcoming address was given by Berik Erbosynov, Head of the Department of Waste Management in the Ministry of Energy, who identified a number of challenges for the Kazakh capital, which has quadrupled in population in 14 years. Astana’s 800,000 residents have an increasing need for clean drinking water and energy supply, Mr Erbosynov explained, while the growth in the urban population requires new infrastructure to cope with waste water treatment and the growing problem of air pollution.
Dr Zhanbyrshy Nurkenov, Chairman of the National Chamber of Housing and Communal Services then explained some of the measures that the national and city governments have taken to make Kazakhstan’s cities more sustainable and protective of the natural environment. These include the introduction of water saving technology for the reuse and recycling of waste water; carbon dioxide capture, energy efficient building materials, new lower emission technologies for public transport and a move away from coal fired to gas powered power generation in and near cities. As part of its long term strategy for sustainable and lower impact energy development, Kazakhstan plans to adopt new emission standards based on European Union protocols.
The British Council representative in Astana, Kanat Abashov, then welcomed the delegates and explained the various opportunities available to UK and Kazakh researchers under the Newton-Al Farabi research collaboration. He congratulated the University of York and the Eurasian National University for organizing the first workshop in the series and looked forward to returning at the end of the week to discuss funding opportunities and how further collaboration can be developed between environmental and urban researchers in the UK and Kazakhstan.
Professor Boxall was joined by CURB Co-Director Dr Simon Parker, of the Department of Politics and CURB Deputy Director Dr Carolyn Snell, of the Department of Social Policy and Social Work together with six research fellows and research students from Environment and Social Policy. The workshop also includes early career researchers from other UK universities including Brunel, University College London, Leeds, Newcastle, Imperial College, London School of Economics and Goldsmith’s along with 20 researchers and academics from Kazakhstan universities and research institutes.