Mainstreaming Evidence-Based Migration and Climate Change Policies into the Development Agenda of Kazakhstan

Related Sustainable Development Goals and Global Compact for Migration Objectives

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
SDG 13: Climate Action
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GCM 16
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Kazakhstan’s economic development, and in particular its water security, depends on how effectively the country manages climate variability as well as climate change. Evidence indicates that changing climate conditions have been shaping lives and livelihoods in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, with food security, water security and livelihoods at risk from natural hazards. These changes are linked with migration in various ways. Within some households, a family member may migrate to an urban center to seek income opportunities. In addition to this, changes in precipitation patterns and in the availability of water could force pastoralists to change their practices, while some households who lack basic resources or means to migrate may end up “trapped” in environmentally fragile areas, with limited access to water.

Key objective

The Government of Kazakhstan acknowledged the need to properly address climate change and migration issues and devise proper responses, and for this reason IOM and UNDP partnered up through a Seed Funding Initiative to contribute to improving the evidence base and capacities of national stakeholders on migration and climate change in Kazakhstan with the end goal of effectively mainstreaming migration and climate change into the Kazakhstan Development Agenda at both the national and local levels.  

Main activities

IOM and UNDP carried out several activities, aiming to mainstream the topic of migration and climate change in the Kazakh development agenda:  

  1. The first activity consisted in undertaking a mapping study of traditional water management techniques as a form of adaptation to address slow-onset environmental degradation in Kazakhstan. A report documenting water management practices (autonomous and planned) in the country was made available to local and national stakeholders. It provides an inventory of water management-related projects in Kazakhstan and identified best practices, barriers and opportunities for future joint IOM and UNDP interventions in this area of work. Moving forward, the findings of the report will also be used to develop actionable recommendations to be further embedded in national and local strategic documents, policies and joint programming.  

  1. Secondly, the joint initiative aimed to improve the capacities of Kazakh policymakers to mainstream the migration, environment and climate change nexus into national planning processes. This was achieved through the implementation of a series of capacity-building activities including three online training sessions for national and local government representatives. The training brought together and blended expertise and methodologies from the IOM’s Migration, Environment and Climate Change Training Manual and UNDP’s Gender and Climate Change Training Manual. In addition, IOM and UNDP organised and facilitated a high-level roundtable discussion that gathered 50 Kazakh senior officials and representatives from various ministries and from leading research institutions, including the Academy of Public Administration and the Graduate School of Public Policy at the Nazarbayev University to raise awareness, discuss findings and explore potential policy interventions in the field of migration, climate change and development.  

Key successes or innovative factors, good practices and lessons learned (if available)

The Kazakh authorities now have the necessary evidence to engage in a national dialogue on migration and climate change with a special focus on water security. The training and round-table discussions enabled IOM to devise proper climate change and migration policies and solutions that have supported the integration of the migration, environment and climate change nexus into the national development agenda of Kazakhstan. Throughout the training, different government authorities learned about the importance of “environmental migration” and they are now able to incorporate this knowledge into their own agendas and daily work. Daily communication between IOM and UNDP allowed the two agencies to move forward with the project despite COVID-19 restrictions and set a solid basis for future collaboration to address the complex nexus between migration and climate change in Kazakhstan.

This initiative is fully aligned with UNDP-IOM strategic partnership in the framework of previous joint efforts to address migration, climate change and development topics in the country. A joint approach such as this one is integral to achieving the SDGs, more specifically SDG 1 on combating poverty, SDG 10 on inequalities, and SDG 13 on climate action. It also supports the achievement of the GCM Objectives such as the GCM 1 on collecting data as a basis for evidence-based policies, GCM 2 minimizing adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their countries of origin, GCM 6 on safeguarding conditions that ensure decent work, GCM 7 addressing and reducing vulnerabilities and GCM 16 empowering migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion.


Academia, local authorities, national authorities

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