• By: Dan Donovan

Astana Emerges: Expo 2017

The most important green energy Expo of the decade takes place in Astana, Kazakhstan in 2017.

Nursultan Nazarbayev President of the Republic of Kazakhstan is inviting the world to attend Expo 2017 in Astana, one of the world’s most modern and green cities.

The Expo 2017 global gathering will showcase developments from around the world in the field of green, renewable and sustainable energy. Expo 2017 will place Astana, Kazakhstan in the international spotlight for three months from June 10 to September 20, 2017. During the world-class event, Kazakhstan will host delegations from over 100 countries, and will showcase cutting-edge green energy and sustainability technologies that could provide solutions to energy issues around the world. It will draw three to five million visitors, which would make it the largest international gathering of its kind for both Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

Kazakhstan is a major producer of non-renewable energy sources, but it has been using the profits from these successful ventures to transition to a “green” economy. Expo 2017 is expected to increase foreign investment, international trade and tourism in the country and raise its international profile, making it one of the most influential states in Central Asia.

Roman Vassilenko, Chairman of the Committee for International Information, said that a key part of Expo 2017 is the Future Energy Forum.

“Future energy is one of the most universal discussions of our time, which is why we have chosen it as the central theme for Expo 2017.” The Future Energy Forum will attract the world’s leading experts in green energy, renewables, green technologies and science-related matters. Organizers hope the Future Energy Forum will be the nexus to establish cooperation between international governments, social and business structures and academic communities, including universities, academic institutes, research centers, public foundations and NGOs.

2017 President
Nursultan Nazarbayev President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Expo 2017 will turn Astana into a showcase for the latest global developments in the energy sector and will transform it into a hub for developing alternative energy solutions across Central Asia. Vassilenko said that Kazakhstan will also use the 2017 global fair to call for increased use of renewable energy resources and “will be an important platform for innovations in renewable energy, including wind, solar and hydro power.” Organizers expect that the expo will expand Kazakhstan’s global cooperation with industrialized, developing and less developed countries. Kazak officials have a particular focus on developing nations south of the equator, hoping the Expo will trigger a new era of expanded development programs with them. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has told his officials that Expo 2017 will be “the greatest achievement at the international level since Kazakhstan’s independence.”

Expo 2017 will also bring hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and considerable international exposure to the country and offer it the opportunity to showcase and advance the latest technological, scientific and cultural achievements in green energy on the world stage.

Canada is expected to have a strong presence in Astana. Canadian Foreign Affairs officials have been actively working with Kazakhstan on governance models for over a decade, and the Canadian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Shawn Steil is highly regarded by government and business officials in the country. In addition, the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a highly respected Canadian think tank, has been working closely with Kazakhstan officials and using its in-house expertise and its worldwide network of practitioners to share their knowledge on some key governance issues in the country. CIGI is also a partner in the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA), an institute for advanced research, education, and outreach in the fields of global governance and international public policy.

Jim Balsillie is the founder of the BSIA and is the former founder of Blackberry. He is currently the Chairman of Sustainable Development Technologies Canada (SDTC), the Canadian government’s six billion dollar cleantech fund. SDTC works to bring economically viable, clean technologies to the market. SDTC invests in globally competitive Canadian companies that produce tangible environmental benefits that make Canada’s economy more competitive. It is expected that Balsillie and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and other senior Canadian officials will be invited to attend the global expo along with green energy stalwarts like Al Gore, Elon Musk, Laurent Fabius and many of the key participants in the 2015 Paris Climate Change agreements. Over 2.5 billion people live in close proximity to Kazakhstan, and it’s only a three-hour flight from the capital city of India, a five-hour flight from the capital of China and a three-hour flight from Moscow. In addition, there are excellent connections from North America for western visitors.

The government of Kazakhstan has allocated almost a half-billion dollars to construct the expo site and build a new generation of mass transit and roads to serve it. The expo itself will be held on 113 hectares (279.23 acres) of land at the end of Millennium Alley in the new southwest district of the city. The Millennium Alley area “combines numerous facilities of political and cultural significance for the city…close to the city’s new center.” The expo site has also attracted $1.3 billion in foreign investments for the new buildings, roads and transit systems, including a new city railway system.

2017 Logo“This includes the costs of constructing the exhibition pavilions and new hotels for visitors,” said Expo 2017 National Coordinator and Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rapil Zhoshybayev. “This will be mainly paid out of new investments. And it is in line with the average amount spent on holding other Expos around the world.” Organizers also plan to install streaming cameras throughout the expo site to broadcast the event worldwide.

“Astana will become the first digital Expo, with video cameras and Wi-Fi everywhere, so that every corner of the world with access to the Internet can see this historic event,” said Aidar Kazybayev, chairman of the Trade Committee of the Ministry of Economic Development.

“Astana will become the first digital Expo, with video cameras and Wi-Fi everywhere, so that every corner of the world with access to the Internet can see this historic event,” said Aidar Kazybayev, chairman of the Trade Committee of the Ministry of Economic Development.

And all of this effort will not go to waste after the expo is over. Venues built for the exposition will serve as longer- term investments by positioning Kazakhstan and its capital as an attractive center for future large international expositions and information presentation platforms.“Part of the exhibition facilities and platforms will be used as scientific laboratories, scientific centres and research institutes after the exhibition is held.

“We want to use the buildings erected as the expo village and the hotels in the future as (government-owned) apartment buildings. This will help resolve social issues and development of our capital,” Zhoshybayev said. Part of those facilities will be used as a new Nazarbayev University research center, which could be used to further the innovations presented at the expo.

Hosting Expo 2017 comes at a perfect time for Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan recently became a member of the World Trade Organization and that combined with Expo 2017 will exponentially increase awareness in the global community about Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan officials hope that by helping stimulate international discussion on sustainable green energy and economies through their hosting of the world’s most important green energy expo, it will increase their presence in world affairs.

Visit the official site of the Expo.


Editor’s Note: In our latest print issue, we did not use the correct photo of  Nursultan Nazarbayev President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. We have corrected this error in the online version and will be publishing a correction in our next issue.