SDSN Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev University, FAO Kazakhstan and JLU Giessen University have discussed potential collaboration steps on joint research work in Kazakhstan on sustainable development

On 15 September 2022, SDSN Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev University, FAO Kazakhstan, and JLU Giessen University met and held a productive meeting on possible options for cooperation, especially on joint research work in Kazakhstan and the potential future role of Nazarbayev University in the SDGnexus Network. Also, existing apparent links between SDSN Kazakhstan and the SDGnexus network were explored during the meeting. The meeting participants were:

From Nazarbayev University and SDSN Kazakhstan: Dr Luis Ramon Rojas-Solórzano (Associate Provost for Graduate Studies), Dr Chester Jablonski (Associate Provost for Research), Dr Hui Weng Tat (Dean of Graduate School of Public Policy), Dr Stefanos Xenarios (Vice Dean for Research of Graduate School of Public Policy/Co-chair of SDSN Kazakhstan), Dr Riccardo Pelizzo (Vice Dean for Academic Affairs of Graduate School of Public Policy), Madina Kazbek (SDSN Kazakhstan Network Manager), Dr Ablay Dosmaganbetov (SDSN Kazakhstan Network Manager), and Damira Kazhenova (Research Administration of Graduate School of Public Policy);

From SDGnexus Network, Justus Liebig University (JLU) Giessen, Germany: Prof. Dr Martin Petrick (Principal Investigator), Dr Björn Weeser (Project Manager), Dr Sarah Robinson (Research Associate), and Dr Aliya Assubayeva (Research Associate);

From FAO Partnership and Liaison Office in the Republic of Kazakhstan: Zhanyl Bozayeva (Programme Officer/Team Leader), Zhanel Sembayeva (FAO-Kazakhstan Partnership Programme and Programme Liaison/Support Specialist).

SDSN Kazakhstan is a national network under the umbrella of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) hosted by Nazarbayev University. On 8 June 2022, under the umbrella of the global SDSN, SDSN Kazakhstan was inaugurated as a national chapter. Currently SDSN Kazakhstan has 20 active members, including 16 universities, 1 research institute, 2 NGOs, and 1 institute affiliated with international organizations. The network aims to promote practical solutions for the development of long-term sustainable pathways, support high-quality education and research collaboration on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and suggest applied research and policy initiatives for better addressing the challenges of sustainable development in Kazakhstan. SDSN Kazakhstan focuses on three priorities: Education and Partnerships; Water, Land, and Communities; Energy and Climate.

The SDGnexus Network is a global community of universities, research centres, and stakeholders committed to promoting the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The SDGnexus Network is a part of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) ‘Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation – exceed’ programme, and, as such, it aims to strengthen higher education to enable effective and innovative contributions to the SDGs of the United Nations. The SDGnexus Network is led by the Centre for International Development and Environmental Research (ZEU) of JLU Giessen, Germany. ZEU has dedicated itself to trans-disciplinary research on climate change, resource management, nutrition security, water scarcity, and energy transition, through international cooperation, including transition and developing countries. The Network is active in 7 countries and has 7 Core Partners as well as 13 Collaboration Partners in Latin America, Europe and Central Asia. The SDGnexus focuses on food systems, water, urban and rural areas, natural resources, and SDG monitoring.

FAO Partnership and Liaison Office in the Republic of Kazakhstan presented their activities and progress in ‘Integrated natural resources management in drought-prone and salt-affected agricultural production landscapes in Central Asia and Turkey (CACILM2)’, ‘Kazakhstan Resilient Agroforestry and Rangeland Project’, ‘Project for Improvement of Locust Management (Phase 2)’, ‘Supporting investments in smallholders inclusive agrifood value chain development in Kazakhstan’, ‘Elaboration of the State Programme 2022-2026 (including the Concept) of Agro-Industrial Development’, and etc.

Dr Sarah Robinson presented research on the topic of ‘Ranchers or pastoralists? Farm size, specialisation and production strategy amongst cattle farmers in south-eastern Kazakhstan’. The study examined how intensive or extensive Kazakhstan’s livestock systems are today. Focusing on beef production at a study site in south-eastern Kazakhstan, they characterized households and farms along intensification axes using a range of indicators, identifying the main production systems and the most common; how farm size affects these livestock strategies; what are the main barriers to farm growth and productivity.

Presenting ‘Water security assessment in Central Asia: Connecting conceptual frameworks and policy perspectives’, Dr Aliya Assubayeva highlighted important aspects of the work by answering the following research questions: How is water security in Central Asia interpreted in academic discourse; how is water security in Central Asia perceived by practitioners; to what extent are water security trends in literature aligned with the policy discourse mentioned by practitioners?

Dr Stefanos Xenarios, presented a research on the topic ‘Mainstreaming evidence-based migration and climate change policies into the development agenda of Kazakhstan, with a special focus on water security’, which was aimed at studying water-migration challenges in the Mang and Kyzylorda regions.

As a result of the meeting, each of the parties found common ground for further cooperation, especially in the issue of studying water problems, land use, and sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) of the region as well as sharing of experience in the work of SDSN Kazakhstan and SDGnexus networks. Nazarbayev University has expressed interest in the SDGnexus programme on Integrated Training Network for members and the virtual Master’s Degree Programme in Sustainable Transition that focuses on understanding the development and transition processes in agricultural and food systems.