By J Nastranis
2017 will be an important year for Kazakhstan, a transcontinental country in northern Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Not only because on January 1 the country begins its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, but also because it will host EXPO 2017 from June 10 to September 20.
By creating a platform to showcase cutting edge technologies that could provide solutions to energy issues, official sources said the EXPO will establish Kazakhstan as “a global leader on the challenge of future energies” and it will serve as a catalyst for Kazakhstan’s transition to a “green” economy.
Kazakhstan is the dominant nation of Central Asia economically, generating 60% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), primarily through its oil and gas industry. The country has vast mineral resources.
During the EXPO in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, the country will welcome delegations from around the world, strengthening diplomatic relations, promoting discussions on international trade and commerce and hosting debates on key global topics, EXPO 2017 Commissioner Rapil Zhoshybayev said in New York.
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, it was announced that Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Suriname have decided to participate in EXPO 2017.
At the UN General Assembly, Zhoshybayev met with Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Irwin Larocque. He will serve as commissioner on behalf of the CARICOM countries that will take part in the exhibition.
During the meeting, Zhoshybayev reviewed preparations for the event and invited Larocque to join in the international participants meeting that will be held in early 2017. Larocque noted the relevance of the EXPO 2017 theme, Future Energy, for Caribbean states seeking to develop alternative energy due to their lack of traditional energy sources.
Accordig to official sources, Larocque also confirmed his intention to maintain a close dialogue with Kazakhstan, in its position as member of the UN Security Council, concerning water, energy and food security.
CARICOM was set up in 1973 as a successor to the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA). Kazakhstan is the only Central Asian country accredited with the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana.
Zhoshybayev also met with UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States Gyan Chandra Acharya and UN Under-Secretary-General for Sustainable Development Wu Hongbo.
They discussed thematic events planned by UN agencies for EXPO 2017 as well as the implementation of the UN Convention on Climate Change.
On September 21–22, Zhoshybayev visited Canada, where he met with official organisations and representatives of business circles of the country. At a meeting with Director General, Europe and Eurasia Bureau at Department of Foreign Affairs of Canada Leigh Sarty, he discussed bilateral relations, simplifying visa regimes and the participation of Canadian companies in EXPO 2017.
Zhoshybayev noted the significance of the meeting of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev with Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau on the margins of the G20 Summit on September 4-5 in Hangzhou, China, during which the Kazakh leader invited him to visit Astana in 2017.
He also highlighted that the participation of the Canadian companies in EXPO 2017 will strengthen bilateral cooperation and advance new levels of interaction. Sarty expressed confidence in the success of the Astana expo.
In Toronto, Zhoshybayev took part in the Kazakhstan and Canada: Opportunities for Cooperation within EXPO 2017 conference organised by the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association (CERBA) and the Kazakhstan-Canada Business Council.
Top managers of companies such as Cameco Corporation, Uranium One, Phoenix Geophysics, Minas Energy, Gowling WLG and others attended the event.
Canadian participants noted that the theme of the expo would provide companies the opportunity to present advanced experience, new technologies and innovations in sustainable development, the green economy and environmental protection to the whole world.
Following meetings, companies expressed willingness to participate in EXPO 2017 and to hold a regular meeting of the Kazakhstan-Canada Business Council during the event. Canada has extensive experience in organising international exhibitions. The country is known for EXPO 1967 in Montreal and EXPO 1986 in Vancouver.
Back in Astana, Chairman of Astana EXPO 2017 national company Akhmetzhan Yessimov briefed on September 30 more than 50 heads of foreign diplomatic missions accredited to Kazakhstan on expo preparations and urged them to help accelerate the work of the exhibition’s official participants.
“The construction of all pavilions, located on 174 hectares, has been coming to the finish line. At the end of October, we are planning to provide these objects for international participants’ use for installation and other works,” he said.
To date, 103 countries and 17 international organisations have confirmed their participation and 98 sections commissioners have been appointed. Sixty-two countries have booked celebrations of their national days during the exhibition. Yessimov also said there are only five available pavilions that will be distributed soon.
“Great attention is paid to the content of international pavilions. Today, we are receiving requests from our international colleagues on how to develop a theme of the exhibition. In this regard, I would like to highlight projects of the national pavilions of Austria, the UK, Germany, China, Pakistan, Poland, Japan and Russia that were presented to us for consideration,” said Yessimov, asking the diplomats to help speed up the granting of concepts of pavilions of their countries.
He also informed the diplomatic corps about a contest on best global practices in the field of energy for the Energy Best Practices Area (eBPA) Pavilion at EXPO 2017. A commission headed by Secretary General of the International Exhibitions Bureau Vicente Loscertales chose 22 winning projects out of 133 submissions from more than 25 countries.
“We are starting a large-scale public relations campaign to promote Astana EXPO 2017 around the world in collaboration with the American company Burson Marsteller,” said Yessimov. The company was founded in 1953 and is a leading global public relations and communications firm.
Yessimov also told participants that the Astana EXPO 2017 national company has signed agreements and memorandums with local and foreign partners totalling $141 million. He also said that in November, the Unified Service Centre would start its activity. It will help participants access a wide range of public services in a single location.