Photo credit:U.S. Department of State.; r. John Dernbach (from the right) and Alexander Bragin, Director of Legal Provision and International Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection in Astana on July 8, 2008.
From July 7th through July 14th, Professor John Dernbach
visited Khazakstan to share his expertise on climate change and sustainable development with both government officials and the general public. Invited to speak in Kazakhstan as part of a U.S. Government Speaker's Program, Professor Dernbach visited Astana, Almaty, Ust-Kamenogorsk, and Ridder.
“Central Asia is warming, as many in my audience knew. Climate change is also affecting the availability of water,” notes Professor Dernbach, adding, “There is a lot of energy efficiency in industry and in apartments and houses. The country is beginning to see energy efficiency improvement as a way of enhancing its competitiveness.” He spoke about sustainable development in public lectures at the American Cultural Centers in Almaty and Ust-Kamenogorsk, indicating that environmental problems limit economic opportunity and protecting and restoring the environment can actually increase economic development. He also spoke specifically to the impact of climate change on Central Asia, and he consulted with the Ministry of Environmental Protection in Astana, offering recommendations to improve energy efficiency and the Kazakhstani Environmental Code.
“I came to Kazakhstan with a basic message: laws and policies to address climate change and environmental protection can also foster competitiveness, create jobs, and improve quality of life,” says Professor Dernbach. He believes that his message was well received, including by Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy, saying, “The Ministry of Energy plans to introduce a new law to improve energy conservation to make Kazakhstan more competitive. That is consistent with what I was saying. Whatever else that means, it indicates that government is willing to consider arguments for environmental protection based on competitiveness.” He believes that his words may have reached beyond the government as well. “A good many young people attended public presentations in Almaty and Ust-Kamenogorsk, and many of them spoke to me afterwards. I like to think that some of them may have been influenced by these presentations.”
Professor Dernbach is the editor of Stumbling Toward Sustainability
, a 32-chapter book assessing U.S. efforts on sustainable development in the ten-year period since the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio De Janeiro in 1992, and he is currently editing a follow up volume entitled Agenda for a Sustainable America
. The recipient of the 2007 Douglas E. Ray Excellence in Faculty Scholarship Award from Widener University Law School, he teaches in the areas of environmental law, property, international environmental law, climate change, international law, administrative law, and sustainability and the law.