Gulmira Kuzhagaliyeva, a former senior expert at Qaz-Trade, Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Trade and Integration, has been exploring sustainable methods of food packaging and storage in her work ̶ an area she believes Central Asia could learn from Latin American nations who are successful exporters of fruit and vegetables and have experience in storage methods that reduce food waste.
Keen to explore the potential for South-South cooperation to inform this work, Kuzhagaliyeva joined ESCAP’s Community of Practice (CoP) for Policy makers on the Green Transition of Business, established in partnership with Agencia Presidencial de Cooperación Internacional de Colombia in 2022. The CoP is part of a broader progamme to promote policies for inclusive and sustainable economies in countries across Asia and the Pacific and Latin America through promoting learning and exchange between the two regions.
“The CoP provides an important platform through which governments and stakeholders from diverse backgrounds can discuss common challenges and common solutions on transitioning our agriculture and manufacturing to becoming more sustainable and greener,” said Kuzhagaliyeva.
“What has surprised me in studying the experience of Latin American countries is how, despite our geographic differences, we have such similar challenges in our agricultural industries, our environment, even our citizens’ concerns and how our governmental agencies are paying more attention to these issues,” Kuzhagaliyeva said.
The green transition of businesses is increasingly driven by rising consumer interest in sustainability in the face of the mounting impacts of climate change, and the application of stricter green import rules from key trading partners.
“If we want international recognition, access to international markets and new opportunities, then we need to support the transition to a green economy,” Kuzhagaliyeva stressed.
Government policies are critical to these efforts as they can introduce regulations and standards that promote sustainable practices. These can range from a preventive system of making polluters pay and restore the environment after any damage, to applying the best technology available to industrial development to reduce emissions and resource use.
“One of the most effective ways to incentivise the private sector is through financial measures, for example tax breaks or subsidies to companies reducing their carbon footprint. This would encourage companies while also allowing them to take decisions and invest in necessary the infrastructure and technologies to go green,” explained Kuzhagaliyeva.
Success in transitioning to green trade will require concerted efforts, nationally and regionally. Countries like Kazakhstan who are far from global markets can benefit from South-South cooperation to take companies and products to global markets.
To deepen the partnerships between participating countries in the two regions and allow CoP members such as Kuzhagaliyeva to see innovative policy measures ‘in action’, in depth learning opportunities will be facilitated, including intensive training to promote green investment among Investment Promotion Agencies in the two regions, and a study tour to bring together stakeholders from Ecuador, Chile, Colombia and India to learn from initiatives on green agriculture and food promotion.
For Kuzhagaliyeva, “building trust and partnerships is key […] partnering with multiple organizations will help us to support this green transition, which will lead to economic growth and an improved image of the region.”