Entry Points for Vertical Integration of Climate Action in Kazakhstan

This study aims to identify and analyze potential ways to use existing institutional mechanisms in Kazakhstan to strengthen sub-national level adaptation planning capacities.
Bayterek is a monument and observation tower in Astana, Kazakhstan.


This study seeks to identify entry points that initiate and establish linkages between the national and the sub-national level for adaptation planning processes. Establishing these linkages is not a single step, but an ongoing iterative process to be reviewed continually for development. The findings of this study should facilitate communication among governmental bodies and international organizations, while presenting a guiding proposal for potential next steps.

The study* identifies and describes two means of strengthening national and sub-national level links and enabling the integration of climate adaptation at the sub-national level: sub-national development programs and national strategic documents.

As well as details of these two entry points, the study includes information on current framework conditions and institutional arrangements in Kazakhstan, capacities for Risk and Vulnerability Assessments (RVAs), the National Planning System of Kazakhstan, and ongoing adjustment of the Environmental Code, which includes an eight-step process for adapting to climate change.

*Download the full study from the right-hand column. Find a summary of the introduction, conclusions and recommendations of the study below.


Kazakhstan is currently initiating the development of its National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process, financed by the Green Climate Fund. This will involve sub-national engagement and collaboration between national and sub-national authorities, since the effects of climate change are often experienced on a local scale. This increased risk and uncertainty creates challenges for people’s livelihoods and local development progress. The most effective approach to the NAP process will therefore involve a mix of top-down and bottom-up approaches, recognizing that much of the implementation of adaptation will occur at sub-national levels.

From 2017 to 2018, the GIZ Regional Project Ecosystem-Based Adaptation to Climate Change in High Mountainous Regions of Central Asia supported the Ministry of Energy and the provincial government of Eastern Kazakhstan Province in the development of a Regional Adaptation Plan (RAP) (DEBP & GIZ, 2018). The Government of Kazakhstan intends to use the RAP for Eastern Kazakhstan as a blueprint for sub-national adaptation planning processes with further vertical integration into the NAP framework. However, the regional adaptation plan for Eastern Kazakhstan lacks a clear implementation strategy to provide specific guidance on existing mechanisms and potential sub-national entry points to implement its adaptation priorities and measures.

This study aims to identify and analyze potential ways to use existing institutional mechanisms to strengthen sub-national level adaptation planning capacities to ensure the successful implementation of identified adaptation measures.

Conclusions and Recommendations

In order to meet the challenges arising from climate change impacts in Kazakhstan, its NAP process needs to account for the sub-national perspective. The fact that Kazakhstan is currently initiating the development of its NAP process presents an opportunity to shape this process and ensure the vertical integration of climate action.

Two major entry points for action have been identified:

  • Firstly, the integration of climate adaptation needs into high-level strategic documents. If successful, this represents a facilitating leverage for all climate-resilient planning across all sectors and levels. This can be achieved by using the ongoing SDG process, where intersectoral working groups represent a platform for dialogue and the coming update of the Green Economy (GE) concept.
  • Secondly, the integration of climate-resilient planning into sub-national development planning presents an entry point for action. This would ensure access to funding for climate actions and make investments across all provinces climate-proof.

The Ministry of Energy is the coordinating authority for the update of the green economy concept and the SDGs’ “Planet Working Group,” where it can influence the policy framework on different document levels. The adjustment of sub-national development programs requires the support of other key ministries, such as the Ministry of National Economy.

Since the Ministry of Energy (as the authorized body of the Government of Kazakhstan) designs its NAP process, key points that it may consider for the vertical integration of action include the following, which international organizations would likely strongly support (see the full text for more detail on each of these points):

  • Shape the implementation discussion within the SDG Planet working group on climate policy change and pursue the adjustment of high-level governmental strategic documents.
  • Provide proposals and expertise on vertical integration of the NAP process in the SDG implementation process.
  • Initiate dialogue processes with the Ministry of National Economy and propose adjustments on current sub-national development programs.
  • Design an institutional arrangement that covers the entire NAP process at multiple levels.
  • Address capacity gaps at the national level.
  • Address capacity gaps at the sub-national level.
  • Ensure the sustainability of knowledge and capacity transfer.
  • Support for climate information and stakeholder involvement.

Vertical integration represents a challenge for Kazakhstan, where the sub-national level has limited possibilities and platforms for shaping processes and expressing demands outside of centralized processes. However, the sub-national sector has already been assigned roles with parameters for planning and implementation of sub-national development programs. A decision at the national level that directs the sub-national level to consider climate risks for investment planning would represent a major step toward effective climate adaptation.


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