Rumours about the return of Kok-Zhailau to the National Park are greatly exaggerated!

04In September 2017, at the Sixth Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention, decision VI/8g was adopted on Kazakhstan’s compliance with its obligations. It notes that the party to the Convention violated a number of requirements of Articles 6 and 7, as a result of which effective public participation at an early stage in the development and implementation of the “Plan for the development of world-class ski resorts in the Almaty region and near the city of Almaty” was not ensured, in particular in the Kok-Zhailau valley.

In accordance with paragraph 6a) of this decision, the Republic of Kazakhstan was obliged to submit to the Compliance Committee of the Aarhus Convention by October 1, 2020, a report on the measures taken to implement the decision.[1]

On October 10, 2020, the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources sent to the Committee a final report on “Measures taken to take into account the comments of Decision VI / 8g in the draft Environmental Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the new edition.”[2]

On 17 October, the Committee sent a letter to members of the public, including the Ecological Society “Green Salvation,” inviting them to comment on the Report.

After reviewing it, we decided to clarify two points that raise doubts. In the column “measures taken” in paragraphs 3 a) and 3 e) the following is written:

“During the implementation of the project for the construction of the “Kok-Zhailau” ski resort, the public took an active part in the decision-making procedure. As a result, in accordance  with  the  law “On amendments and additions to some legislative acts of Kazakhstan on specially protected natural territories,” the land of the project “Kok-Zhaylau” is returned in the protected areas.”[3]

But this document does not state:

– when and to which specially protected areas the “lands of the Kok-Zhailau project” were returned;

– on the basis of which legal act was the return made?

In this regard, on October 26, the Ecological Society sent a letter to the Ministry with a request to provide information confirming the return of the Kok-Zhailau valley to the Ile-Alatau National Park or another specially protected area.

On November 5, the Ministry sent a response describing the procedure for the return of land, and clarifies that the requested documents cannot be submitted due to the fact that the procedure for the return of land is still being developed.

In other words, the Ministry provided the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee with inaccurate information, which the Ecological Society indicated in the comments to the Report, attaching the Ministry’s response.[4]

On November 18, the Ministry sent comments on comments of the Ecological Society.[5]  And although the main conclusion of this document—the remarks of our organization “are unfounded,” there is no reference to the legal act (government decree), which returned the territory of Kok-Zhailau to the Ile-Alatau National Park!

That is, the desired is again passed off as valid. And in order to lull the vigilance of the international convention and “not disturb” our own public, “reassuring” information is sent to the Committee.