MEET A LEADER!
A Leader, what is he like? How is he different from the rest of us? What empowers him to be called a Leader and what does he do to be a one? A Leader is the first, guiding, leading, i.e. someone in a group (organization) who is a big, recognized authority, who has a certain pull showing itself in ability to rule, guide, or inspire others. A member of a group for whom it yields the right to take major decisions in crucial situations, in other words, the most competent person playing the key role in organizing joint activities and supervising relations within the group. These are the qualities the participants were to prove or to gain in the Third Central Asia Leadership Programme on environment for sustainable development.
Let’s clear out the meaning of ‘sustainable development’. Most sources put it as a balanced communication of all aspects of human life with the only purpose of improving the quality of life while preserving the planet.
It was the idea of «balance» that was the first fiddle during the nine days of the Leadership Programme. Supplementing and not suppressing – such were the principles that guided all the young leaders. In open private – highly committed and active nationals of five Central Asia countries – representatives of government bodies, NGOs and businesses–devoured a huge flow of information, and acquired new skills and competences for sustainable development, all owing to their broad-mindedness. While being a true individual, each of thirty participants was a part of a truly powerful machine generating interesting visions and daring decisions.
The content and methodology of the Programme itself facilitated discovery of such traits and qualities in the participants that would further help them in popularizing the ideas of sustainable development. No hypnotism – just belief in yourself.
The Programme is being held for a third time. Its idea is to ensure a comprehensive assessment of sustainable development issues within global challenges, needs and priorities in Central Asia. The Programme has been worked out as interactive 3D workshops: a human – environment – sustainable development. The mind-body-and-soul concept was integrated in the context and relative aspects of leadership skills within the human perspective. This year the Programme gathered thirty leaders of five CACs.
The mission of the Third Central Asia Leadership Programmeis to foster comprehensive thinking and to incentivize a more sustainable decision making in the future. Among such decisions there are, inter alia: integrating environmental and sustainable development issues in governments, private sector, civil society and young professionals.
Before we delve into the world of those who are going ahead, it’s worth dwelling on the history, as you have probably noted the numeral ‘third’ in the Third Leadership Programme means there must have been two previous ones.
The First Central Asia Leadership Programme was held in Astana in September 2010 as a side-event of the VI Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED6), and developed for young leaders and future specialists from governments, private sector and civil society of the CACs. The working language of the workshop was English. A three-day Programme was hosted by the Nazarbayev University in partnership with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), UNEP RRC. A Pand CAREC.
The Second Central Asia Leadership Programme on Environment and Development was hosted by CAREC and held on September 14-17, 2011 in Almaty in cooperation and at the support of the UNEP, AIT, OSCE Centre in Astana, and KAPUR in the run-up to the VII Ministerial Conference «Environment for Europe». The graduates of the two Programmes are being actively involved in environmental activities and in the CAREC environment and development projects.
How was the Third Programme special? First of all, the Programme consisted of a nine-day module rich in presentations on various topics of sustainable development, visits to exhibitions and trips to pilot territories, allowing no tedium. Moreover, the then graduates of the Leadership Programme received a unique opportunity to acquire new knowledge in environmental management and sustainable development, as well as a chance to perceive the value of the idea to unite governments, private sector and civil society to achieve a common goal – sustainable development of Central Asia. The issues of water resources management, access to quality drinking water and transboundary water cooperation were given special attention. The Programme touched upon such specific issues of sustainable development as municipal solid waste, bike-culture, green economy and education, green thinking and behaviour.
Within the framework of the Programme the participants visited the Central Asian International Exhibition and Conference Cooperation Mechanisms for Transition to Sustainable Development and Green Growth and a workshop Construction of frame-thatched houses. The first event included a study Transition of Kazakhstan to Green Economy, presentation ofthe results of the research Practices in Sustainable Production and Consumption, and Energy Efficiency of Small and Medium Business, the success stories, and the discussion of future programmes and projects on greening small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with the entrepreneurs’ involvement in the dialogue.
Beside the participants of the Leadership School, the meeting was attended by representatives of the Department of Green Technologies and Investments of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, ROI Research Agency, Park of Innovative Technologies, as well as leaders of small and medium-sized businesses implementing in their work eco-friendly technologies. They discussed the issues of tangible advantages for SMEs which will apply eco-friendly practices in their market, of how to implement green standards in their business processes, of what help entrepreneurs need, and what new possibilities and benefits thee co-friendly SME will get. A series of such meetings will take place in Kazakhstan and other countries of Central Asia throughout 2012-2013, which will allow uniting the leaders of small and medium-sized business with green technology specialists and discussing trends, technologies and best practices of a new wave of green economy. Besides, CA enterprises willing to receive green technologies within the project can become the sites for 3-5 pilot projects to be held in each CAC.A deliverable of such activity will be creation ofthe Green Business Association in Central Asia.
A particular moment of the Leadership Programme was a trip to an eco-village and an environmental settlement. In the patrimonial estate Alma-Ruy, which is located 30 km from Almaty, there is an eco-village, where houses are built from environmentally friendly MSW-added materials. One businessman came up with the idea of creating such a village. He bought 100 ha of land in the region and sold it out by plots at a very attractive price: USD15,000 per ha. One day all the people who bought these plots gathered and decided to build an eco-village. In here a house can be built in a couple of years. It takes three months to lift up a frame of the house, and the rest depends upon the landlords and their financial condition. Basically no one is using expensive materials, which allows practically anyone to build their own house. Practically everyone builds adobe houses and uses the clot technology for insulating walls in the house, i.e. the walls are painted black and fitted with glass.When we asked why it was called a Patrimonial estate, we were explained they would have everything in their ownership – land, eco-friendly premises: houses and greenhouses to grow organic fruits and vegetables; and all this can be passed from generation to generation. There are already 10 cosy houses 2-5 km from one another. And in the future they are planning to build big mansions with yards for cattle, fields to grow various crops, and orchards. Even though the neighbours live rather far one from another, they gather to celebrate annual festivals and open-air events. Village meetings are held at regular intervals to discuss common issues: water supply, electricity and heating in the houses. The villages use ground water: 18-20m deep is for technical purposes, and 60+m deep is potable. The heating so far is traditional – electric. But the villagers plan to rear cattle and transfer to bio fuel, which is another step towards sustainable living. It’s worth saying that our participants gave a helping hand to the locals in building their castles. It would be a good idea to come back here next summer to find out how the things with the construction are moving, and what the future plans of the eco-villagers are.
Not only did the participants, who went through the whole Leadership School, get to know the world of sustainable development, but they also cultivated the world of sustainable development and harmony in themselves. As the participants put it, the knowledge they had was further developed and consolidated. «We have also received a lot of additional information which is really needed to advance working methods and which can be used in the implementation of various projects. I believe that this knowledge will be equally helpful in new undertakings, and possibly in new projects», shared her experience Gulzhan Makhmudova, a Kyrgyzstani participant.
Another fact which made the hosts and the participants of the Leadership Programme especially pleased, and there is no need to be shy saying it, was that these nine days changed them: making them more daring and dynamic: «Your Programme empowered me with fully believing in myself. Many thanks to Dina; she did a great job in helping me to get rid of my lack of confidence. I was so much afraid of wording my ideas, as I’m scared of being ridiculed, and the like. Dina helped me to understand that when I come back home I need to continue this self-perfection work», revealed her thoughts Liubov Suleymenova, EcoObraz volunteer (Kazakhstan). She added, «Your Programme has given me a lot of useful and interesting information. I have learnt a couple of methods to be used in trainings. I have made new friends. And all that knowledge and skills in holding trainings, making presentations, as well as all that knowledge in such an important topic of sustainable development as water in Central Asia – they are priceless! I can’t wait to share all this knowledge with the students of my University, and colleagues in our AGE training Centre. To tell the truth, all the information that I learnt from you was absolutely new for me. I am so grateful you allowed me broadening my mind. This is the most invaluable experience».
All the Leadership Programme participants, without exception, were satisfied with the programme, presentations, news, role-plays, and surely new acquaintances, which will allow them creating regional networks, tackling common regional problems, and, who knows, maybe even global ones in the short run. We are looking forward to the next programme to meet new leaders or just interesting people from all the five countries of the Central Asia region.