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Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Kazakhstan

Article 31 of Kazakhstan’s constitution outlines the provisions for environmental protection. It reads:

  • The state shall set an objective to protect the environment favorable for the life and health of the person
  • Officials shall be held accountable for the concealment of facts and circumstances endangering the life and health of the people in accordance with law
  • The main environmental law is the Environmental Code of 2007 The Code replaced several environmental laws to align the national law more closely with the prevailing international standards of environmental regulation. The main environmental regulator is the Ministry of Environmental Protection (Ministry). The Ministry is responsible for:

  • Drafting laws relating to environmental protection and climate change (to become enforceable, the laws must be approved by Parliament and signed by the President
  • Issuing environmental permits and licences and establishing the permitted limits of emissions
  • Developing and implementing state programmes relating to environmental protection
  • Overseeing compliance with ecological requirements
  • Approving annual quotas of GHG emissions
  • Featured Legislation

    1993: The Water Code was created. The objectives of water legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan are the regulation of water relations for the purpose of rational and sustainable water use; the protection of water resources from pollution and exhaustion; and the improvement of the legal framework with respect to water relations.

    2003: The Forest Code was established to advance the following principles:

    • The recognition of nation-wide value of the woods which are carrying out soil-protective, water preserving and sanitary and hygienic functions
    • Sustainable development of the woods (permanent increase in amount of forests of the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan)
    • Preservation of biological diversity of the woods
    • Multi-purpose use of the woods
    • Rational, continuous, unexhausted use of forest resources
    • State regulation, control and supervision in the field of protection, protection, use of forest fund, reproduction of the woods and afforestation
    • Differentiations of functions of regulation of forest utilization and functions of implementation of cabins of the main use and conversion of the received wood
    • Compensation for the damage caused by violation of the forest legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan
    • Availability of information on condition of forest fund
    • Participation of the population and public associations in protection and protection of forest funds

    2003: Rules of Land Preservation approved by the Decree of the Kazakhstan Government were instituted. The legislation addresses land contamination resulting from anthropogenic activities exceeding the maximum permissible limits of detrimental substances and potentially reducing the value of the land.

    2004: Order No. 56-p of the Director of the Fisheries Committee was signed. ​​The Director of the Fisheries Committee ordered to prohibit the use of mesh fishing gear (set nets and floatable nets) non-complying with fish industry-specific standards, and also fishing gear manufactured with the use of nylon monofibre thread and monofilament yarn, in all the fishery waterbodies of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

    2007: The Environmental Code was passed. The legislation establishes:

    • General principles of environmental legislation, such as sustainable development, duty of care to the environment and free access to ecological information
    • Procedures for mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) for certain activities
    • General principles of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions’ reduction and carbon trading

    2010: The Law on Subsoil and Subsoil Use was adopted, determining the regime for subsoil use; the procedure for exercising the state management and regulation in subsoil use; the features of the creation, exercising and termination of rights to subsoil plots; and the legal status of subsoil users.

    2012: The multi-sectoral policy document was unveiled. It established, inter alia, the following challenges to face: (a) the threat to global food security; (b) acute water shortage; and (c) exhaustibility of natural resources. The high rate of growth of the world’s population is sharply exacerbating the food problem. Already today, tens of millions of people in the world are hungry, about a billion people are permanently food insecure. Without revolutionary changes in food production, these terrible numbers will only grow. For Kazakhstan, in this challenge lies enormous opportunity. The country is already among the largest exporters of cereals. It has vast organic areas and can produce organic food. The country is perfectly capable of making a qualitative leap in agricultural production. To do this, it needs a new kind of government thinking. The problem of water supply is acute in the country as well. There is not enough high-quality potable water. A number of regions are in dire need of it. There is also a geopolitical aspect to this problem. Already now the country is faced with a serious question of transboundary river water use. Despite the complexity of this issue, it must not become politicized. The era of the hydrocarbon economy is gradually coming to an end. A new era is coming in which human activity will be based not only and not so much on oil and gas, but on renewable energy sources. Kazakhstan is a key element of global energy security. The country, with its large world-class oil and gas reserves, will not deviate one step from its policy of reliable strategic partnership and mutually beneficial international cooperation in the energy sphere. By 2050, alternative and renewable forms of energy should account for at least half of the country’s total energy consumption.

    2014: The State Program of Forced Industrial-Innovative Development of Kazakhstan for 2015-2019 was introduced. It is a nationwide multi-sectoral policy document setting forth the goal of stimulating diversification and increasing the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry. It covers metallurgy, oil processing industry, food processing industry, agrochemistry and manufacturing of agricultural equipment. Food processing industry is considered to be a priority sector for the purpose of implementation of the State Program.

    Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

    • In September 2020, the Minister of Ecology, Geology, and Natural Resources,  Magzum Mirzagaliyev, reported that fines will be doubled from 27,780 tenge (US$65) to 55,560 tenge (US$130), as per the country’s environmental code. In a related vein, the fines for violations by medium and large businesses would grow from 83,340 tenge (US$195) and 194,460 tenge (US$455) to 208,350 tenge (US$487) and 1,389,000 tenge (US$3,250), respectively. The new fines will apply to offenses such as the pollution of public places, destruction and damage of nature reserves, violation of the rules for the protection of water resources, fire safety and sanitary regulations in forests, destruction, or damage to forest fauna as well as damage or contamination of forests. Kazakhstan’s new environmental code will replace the code adopted  in 2007, enforcing a non-speciesist approach towards the treatment of animals. The amendments follow several cases of cruel treatment of animals that caused a public outcry and the pledge by the government to educate the younger generation to show care and empathic behavior to the environment and animals. Drawing inspiration from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Kazakhstan aims to close dolphinariums, a milestone for the nation’s animal activists. Mirzagaliyev hopes that the new bill will also apply to other situations related to the keeping of wild animals.
    • The driving force behind the new code was Kazakhstan’s air quality and solid waste, prompting  new regulations that would prevent adverse environmental impacts.Kazakhstan’s environmental policy is based on principles derived from the the draft code, including the ‘polluter pays and fixes’ principle, which will control large company emissions with fines and responsibility for environmental damage. Another principle featured in the code will oblige industrial enterprises to undergo a technological audit so that the best available technologies (BAT) can produce fewer emissions, incentivizing local executive bodies to  redirect the revenue from the fines to measures that should reduce emissions. In the  September state-of-the-nation address, the new code was presented and adopted by Parliament near the close of 2020. Kazakhstan is also developing a draft bill on the protection of animals, which will be prohibit:
    1. Veterinary or other procedures that may cause pain for animals without the use of veterinary anesthetic drugs
    2. Inciting animals to fight one another
    3. Refusal of animal owners to fulfill their obligations to take care of their animals until they are placed in animal shelters
    4. The organization of animal fight
    5. And the use of tools or any other equipment that may cause injury or death of an animal

    References and Further Reading


    Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of Kazakhstan, Mr. Serikkali Brekeshev: k.kense@ecogeo.gov.kz