The Central Asian Leadership Programme opening ceremony held in Almaty

The opening ceremony of the 10th Anniversary Central Asian Leadership Programme (CALP) took place on September 16, 2019 at the Almaty Hotel in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The event was organized by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) in cooperation with international partners supporting the CALP including the UN Environment, OSCE Secretariat in Vienna, Austria; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); the European Union; the World Bank, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). Program participants comprise 30 young people in total with 5 representatives from each target country of Central Asia and Afghanistan. This year especially CALP brought together a renowned pool of more than 70 partners, speakers, trainers, experts and consultants from various international organizations, expert communities, national and regional partner organizations, companies and the media.

The main goal of the 10th Leadership Programme is to provide innovative and up-to-date knowledge and skills to the mid-career professionals from the countries of Central Asia and Afghanistan, representing the government, non-government, academic and business sectors. In the course of interactive sessions, the young leaders will be provided with the latest innovative solutions to address environmental issues at the national, regional and global levels.

The opening ceremony of the 10th CALP was attended by the high level panelists including Mr. Zafar Makhmudov, CAREC Executive Director, H.E. Thomas Greminger, Ambassador, OSCE Secretary General (video greeting), H.E. Gyorgy Szabo, Head of the OSCE Program Office in Nur-Sultan, the Chairman of the Committee for Environmental Regulation and Control of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan Mr. Zulfukhar Zholdasov, The USAID’s Environment and Natural Resources Specialist in Economic Development Office Ms. Rabab Shamayleh, Water resources management specialist at World Bank Ms. Manon Kassara, the SDC Regional Water Advisor for Central Asia Mr. Andre Wehrli, UN Environment National Program Officer Mr. Olzhas Atymtaev, Education specialist at UNESCO Almaty Cluster office Ms. Lina Benet and Ms. Barbara Janusz-Pavletta, Vice-rector for International Cooperation of the Kazakh-German University.

At the CALP opening the CAREC Executive Director Mr. Zafar Makhmudov highlighted that “The Leadership program is necessary for bringing up the new cohort of specialists in the region. Today’s graduates are already contributing to cooperation and sustainability issues in various sectors across the region. They not only cooperate among themselves, but also study together at foreign universities, exchange useful information, set friendship and provide support to each other. One of the graduates of the CALP has recently been appointed as a Vice Minister of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) in Afghanistan, while other graduates serve in different environmental agencies under Ministries, at the head and country offices of CAREC, at universities, NGOs and media, promoting the values and benefits of the enhanced regional cooperation”.

As part of the opening ceremony, there was also held a press briefing for journalists from different countries of Central Asia. Journalists received answers to their questions related to transboundary waters, climate change, gender equality, etc. Speakers noted that the leader should always serve for the sake of society, and be well-equipped with necessary knowledge, skills and qualifications such as critical and systemic thinking, creativity, visionary leadership, etc.

Ambassador, Head of the OSCE Program Office in Nur-Sultan, H.E. Gyorgy Szabo highlighted that regardless of where we live, the environmental problems do not recognize borders, thus all environmental issues must be addressed collectively: “The approach to solving problems should be complex. Today’s participants of the program in the near future might become the decision makers, setting the environmental agenda in their respective countries”.