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Nurlan Sarsenbay. The concept of a complex program of scientific and applied researches of the Caspian sea and the coast within the Atyrau and Mangystau regions

Dear colleagues and guests! It is a great honor for the International scientific complex “Astana” to be one of the organizers of the conference today. First of all, I would like to thank the main organizers and co-organizers of the conference for bringing us together for this important event. I am pleased to present you the Concept of a long-term complex program of scientific and applied researches of sustainable development of the Kazakhstani sector of the Caspian sea and the coast within the Atyrau and Mangystau regions.

The Republic of Kazakhstan, as a full member of the international community, has committed itself to the implementation of the tasks set out on agenda of XXI century (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), the Millennium summit declarations (new York, 2000), the world summit on sustainable development (Johannesburg, 2002).

UN members adopted the agenda for sustainable development for the period 2015-2030 at the UN summit of September 25, 2015, consisting of 17 global sustainable development goals aimed at preserving natural resources and solving problems related to climate changes. The Republic of Kazakhstan is a non-permanent member of the UN security Council for the period 2017-2018.

The adoption of the historical convention on the legal status of the Caspian sea at the last Summit (Aktau, August 12, 2018) laid a firm foundation for a qualitatively new stage of multilateral international cooperation for the transition of the Caspian region to sustainable development.

We believe that sustainable development of the Caspian sea is synonymous with safe development based on the ability to anticipate and prevent threats and dangers such as:

– coastal and sea water pollution;

– the deterioration of the environment;

– desertification and degradation of coastal landscapes;

– destruction of coastal infrastructure;

– reduction of stocks of bioresources, threats to biodiversity in general.

In connection with the above, within the framework of the implementation of the initiatives of the state heads, for the adoption of science-based systemic and integrated solutions to geopolitical, socio-economical and environmental problems of the adjacent part of the Kazakhstan sector of the Caspian sea within the Atyrau and Mangystau regions, the International scientific complex “Astana” (IOCS) together with the akimats of Atyrau and Mangystau regions and with the support of the Ministry of energy and the Ministry of defense and aerospace industry of Kazakhstan launched a large-scale long-term comprehensive program of fundamental and applied researches for 2018-2026, aimed at promoting sustainable and safe development of the Caspian region, its economical and natural resource potential.

The main scientific coordinator of the Program is the Caspian Institute of the international scientific complex “Astana” with two headquarters in Atyrau and Aktau. Main objectives of the Program:

  • conducting fundamental and applied researches aimed at sustainable development and promotion of effective economicsl activity, including ensuring the competitiveness of the regions and the safety of the population;
  • complex study of the problems of the Caspian sea, issues of development and implementation of scientific projects and programs for biodiversity conservation and rational use of water and biological resources of the Kazakhstani sector of the Caspian sea; their ecological status using laboratory-analytical and monitoring data;
  • study of geopolitical aspects of international relations, regional cooperation and regional security;
  • creation of an integrated informational and analytical system and formation of a unified system of environmental monitoring of the Kazakhstan sector of the Caspian sea and its coast within the Atyrau and Mangystau regions.


This Comprehensive program is expected for 2018-2026 and will be implemented in three stages

In the preparatory phase will be created a long-term thematic research plan as the triggering mechanism in 2018, consisting of strategic projects Programs expected to involve the leading research organizations of Kazakhstan.

In the medium-term phase (2019-2020), the implementation of projects requiring the survey, inventory and assessment of the technical and environmental condition of the Northern part of the Caspian sea will begin.

In the long-term stage (2021-2026), the implementation of fundamental and applied research will begin within the framework of the strategic program.

The analysis of the collected materials showed that over the period from 2001 to 2017, more than 40 scientific and applied studies were carried out in Atyrau and Mangystau regions and the adjacent part of the Kazakhstani sector of the Caspian sea. The researches were financed from the national and local budgets, international funds and industrial companies.

The conducted scientific and applied researches comprise various aspects of environmental problems of the Kazakhstan sector of the Caspian sea: desertification, measures for the detention of sands, environmental zoning, mapping of ecological condition, preparation of passports of natural objects, sea level fluctuation, purification of sea water from oil products, biodiversity, biological and fish resources, fauna, medicinal plants, the impact of sea ports on the coastal zone, waste management, environmental pollution, radioecological condition, etc.

The analysis revealed that a lot of work has been done, but at the same time the studies do not have a single system basis, they are separate, there is no interconnection and continuity between them. Accordingly, there are many unresolved environmental issues of the Caspian sea, its coastline and the territory within the Atyrau and Mangystau regions.

The Caspian sea is an inland drainage basin and the intensification of work on the development of oil and gas deposits of the Caspian shelf increases the risk of man-caused disasters.

The trend of a century-long decline in the level of the Caspian sea ended in 1977. The decline in the level of the Caspian sea in the twentieth century led to the drainage of a large area (about 50 thousand km2), comparable to the area of some European States. In the North-Eastern part of the Northern Caspian sea the coastline in some places deviated to 120-140 km. Following the outgoing sea, the territories of cities were moved and expanded, the coastline was actively developed by oil-producing enterprises.

The increase in salinity of the waters of the Northern Caspian had a negative impact on the feed base of semi-migratory and sturgeon and led to a decrease in the biomass of most benthic organisms. Almost half of the fish forage lands were reduced, which led to a decrease in catches, greatly hampered the conditions of fishing and fish farming.

Since 1978, the level of the Caspian sea has been rising rapidly. As a result of long – term instrumental observations of continuous growth (18 years), the average annual sea level increased by 2.4 m relative to the level of 1977 and in 1995 reached the value of 26.6 m of BS.

Since 1996, there has been a slight decrease in sea level, in 2007 its average annual level reached 27.08 m BS. As a result of the level rise, the area of flooded areas amounted to 35-40 thousand km2. Vast coastal areas have become areas of environmental disaster.

Sea-level rise has changed the natural, socio-economical and health-ecological conditions of coastal areas in the process of their flooding and inundation, and has contributed to the emergence of new geoecological problems.

There was the resettlement of the population in the areas of flooding. Dozens of settlements (displaced about 100 thousand people), oil deposits (Martyshi, Teren-Uzek, Prorva, etc.), fisheries have suffered only in the Northern Caspian region, destruction of infrastructure of coastal parts of the cities of Atyrau and Aktau was observed, many industrial facilities were moved.

Sharp fluctuations in the level have a negative impact on the socio-economical conditions of the population, have a negative impact on the biological productivity of the sea, the ecological system of its waters and coastal areas. Therefore, it is quite natural to raise questions about the causes of sea level fluctuations, the duration of sharp fluctuations and the possibility of their forecast.

Long-term fluctuations in the level reflect a wide range of natural and anthropogenic processes occurring not only in the sea and its catchment area, but also far beyond. With fluctuations in sea level, there are changes in the nature of the development of geosystems and landscapes.

Thus, the issues of rational organization of the territory of the region, taking into account the duration and trends of variability of the level fluctuations, the development of scenarios of behavior of the coastline of the Caspian sea are particularly relevant for Atyrau and Mangistau regions, most of which are located below the level of the world ocean and the territory of which is completely flooded during the quaternary transgressions of the Caspian sea.

The analysis of actual problems of ecology, economy and geopolitics of the Caspian region, and also the analysis of earlier realized scientific and applied researches gives us the possibility of justification and development of the following priority directions and perspective scientific and applied researches of problems of the Kazakhstani sector of the Caspian sea.


Conducting researches aimed at sustainable development and promoting the efficient conduct of economic activities, including ensuring competitiveness

The strategic development plan of Kazakhstan until 2025, adopted this year and being a document of the 1st level, will focus on the implementation of 7 systemic reforms, one of which is “Strong regions and urbanization”. Accordingly, the akimats of all regions, including Atyrau and Mangystau regions face the task of finding reserves to improve the socio-economical situation and determine the development potential of the region.

This approach is associated with a gradual transition from the sectoral method of economic development to the spatial one. Experience in the progress of the economies of developed countries shows that the separate industry can no longer serve as a driver. The standard classification of sectors does not take into account their real economic relationships, as well as factors that are common growth drivers.

The main emphasis in the development strategy for the period up to 2025 will be made on improving the competitiveness of Atyrau and Mangystau regions. The strategy will include proposals for goal-setting and a package of key initiatives to achieve the goal.

The proposed key initiatives should be synchronized within the work in terms of the implementation of project management on the country level. Key initiatives will be prioritized in terms of their impact on competitiveness and feasibility, including the assessment of necessary resources. Consolidated roadmaps for the implementation of the selected package of key initiatives will be prepared.

At the second stage, proposals will be developed to update the regional development Program for 2016-2020 and the action plan for it, taking into account the beginning of the implementation of key strategic initiatives and their details.


Study of complex problems of the Caspian sea on biodiversity conservation, rational use of water and biological resources of the Kazakhstani sector of the Caspian sea, their ecological state using laboratory-analytical and monitoring data (environmental safety)

 Over the past decades, under the influence of anthropogenic and biochemical factors, the state of the ecosystems of the Caspian sea and especially its North-Eastern part have deteriorated sharply.

The ecosystem of the Kazakhstan sector of the Caspian sea is assessed by experts as pre-crisis and may deteriorate as a result of large-scale invasion of the environment within the Atyrau and Mangystau region for oil production. The main polluters of the Caspian sea are oil and oil products, which cause significant, sometimes irreversible changes in its properties.

In connection with active industrial developments, valuable natural-territorial complexes are exposed to strong anthropogenic impact, degradation, loss of ability to self-recovery. The construction, development and operation of oil wells in uninhabited areas undermine natural ecosystems.

With sea level fluctuations, there is a change in the nature of the development of geosystems, landscapes, they adversely affect the socio-economical conditions of life of the population, adversely affect the biological productivity of the sea, the ecological system of its waters and coastal areas.

In the conditions of active development of industrial complexes for the extraction, processing and transportation of hydrocarbons, the issues of sea level fluctuations, environmental and environmental issues, problems of reproduction of biological resources and biodiversity conservation, as well as the impact of climate changes are relevant.

There is also a high degree of technological and environmental risks of emergency (dangerous) situations with flooded oil/gas wells, since their condition is not sufficiently monitored, without taking into account all the requirements of the relevant regulations. This can lead to unpredictable consequences and as a result may call into question the future development of the oil industry in the waters of the Kazakhstan sector of the Caspian sea.

In addressing issues related to the environmental safety of the entire region, the priority is to prevent and detect pollution of the environment as a result of unauthorized discharges or accidents in proper time.

Intensive development of hydrocarbon resources of the Caspian region is accompanied by an increase of seismic risk. Long-term extraction of hydrocarbon raw materials can provoke deformation and seismic processes of natural and man-made origin, leading to a violation of the integrity of oil and gas production facilities, wells and pipelines.

The Caspian sea is a habitat for five valuable species of fish – beluga, sturgeon, persian sturgeon, as well as a zone for the population of a unique marine animal – the Caspian seal. All are classified by the international Union for conservation of nature as “endangered”. There is also the problem of the appearance of alien species in the ecosystems of the Caspian sea, leading to a sharp reduction in the food supply and the number of fish. All this increases the anxiety factor on natural communities, leading to significant changes in their habitual way of life.

The lack of zoning of the sea on the degree of stability and vulnerability, allowing to define safe levels of recreational and industrial exposure hinders the process of minimizing the risk of biological diversity loss.

In view of the above, the implementation of projects for the conservation of biodiversity, rational use of water and biological resources of the Kazakhstan sector of the Caspian sea, their ecological status using information-analytical and monitoring data must be prior and necessary for the development of areas of scientific and applied researches.

As the main factors determining environmental instability (environmental risks) of the natural environment and natural resources can be considered:


– pollution of the sea from land-based sources (river runoff; waste water of enterprises and settlements located on the coast; flushing of pollutants from the coast with wind surges);

– sea level fluctuations;

– depletion of fish resources due to excessive, including illegal (poaching) fishing, over-regulation of the flow of most large rivers in the basin;

– negative changes in coastal terrestrial landscapes and ecosystems, agricultural lands, secondary salinization, chemical pollution and soil deflation, degradation of natural forage lands and desertification.


– invasion of the alien species (the ctenophore “Mnemiopsis”), significantly affecting the existing ecosystem of the sea;

– technogenic impact of intensive development of offshore oil and gas fields, which is a source of great risks, including environmental;

– increasing transport operations for the carriage of hydrocarbons and cargo by sea;

– insufficiently effective management of environmental protection and use of natural resources;

– violation of the regime of protected areas and water areas;

– insufficient interstate coordination of environmental activities in the Caspian sea region.


Creation of an integrated informational and analytical system and formation of a unified system of environmental monitoring of the Kazakhstani sector of the Caspian sea and its coast within the Atyrau and Mangystau regions

The existing systems of monitoring the state of the environment and its resources in the Caspian region require improvement. Most state and non-state organizations and companies in the region systematically or sporadically monitor various environmental parameters. These information are collected in their own information resources and are not interrelated. However, these observations are scattered both in time and space and do not have a single methodological basis.

Accordingly, there is no unified system of collection, assessment and analysis of the results of environmental monitoring in the region, which does not allow to see the overall picture of the state of the natural environment and their spatial distribution. The consequence is poor coordination and harmonization of actions aimed at the protection of the environment and the use of natural resources.

Modern state programs and development plans of the Republic of Kazakhstan provide the development of information and communication infrastructure and digitalization of the activities of state bodies. This task includes the creation of a unified system for monitoring the state of the environment.

Thus, there is a need to create a unified information and analytical system for the collection, processing, evaluation, analysis, visualization and storage of information on the state of the environment of the adjacent waters of the Caspian sea. The system should be based on GIS technology, remote sensing technology and DBMS. Such a system will allow to develop measures to protect the environment, to preserve biodiversity, to ensure the safety of the population from natural and man-made threats, to optimize the use of natural resources, etc.

Rapid collection of information and analysis of the situation will allow warning the natural and man-made hazards in time, which will prevent victims and reduce damage. Constant and objective control of emissions of pollutants into the environment will encourage users to comply with emission standards and carry out environmental measures.

Thus, the long-term program of fundamental and applied researches of sustainable development of the Kazakhstani sector of the Caspian sea and the coast within the Atyrau and Mangystau regions should be based on ensuring geopolitical and environmental security, as well as widespread digitalization.

Also, while developing a program of scientific and applied researches, a system-integrated approach is necessary, taking into account the distribution of territorial objects, by sectors of the economy, by areas of natural resources, etc. Therefore, the proposed scientific and applied researches were combined into prior areas and into components within the areas.

In turn, the components include more focused topics that solve distinct tasks of the components

Fundamental and applied research will be conducted using traditional (field, laboratory, statistical processing, modeling, etc.) and innovative techniques such as GIS technology and remote sensing of the Earth (ERS).

The use of geographic information technology (GIS) allows you to manage spatial, quantitative and qualitative information as a common information resource, to provide analytical services, to provide rapid data retrieval and exchange of information for an unlimited number of users. This approach will be used to visualize the spatial distribution of data and their zoning.

The use of remote sensing of the earth (ERS) allows you to remotely determine many characteristics of the environment, without contacting the object of study. An important advantage of remote sensing methods is that they allow a significant amount of labor-intensive labor research to be transferred to office conditions, increase the speed of work, and at the same time increase the reliability and completeness of the results of survey and research.

The convenience of working with images also lies in the fact that the image can be accessed repeatedly, studied indefinitely, which is difficult with the traditional field expeditionary method of research. Aerial and space images give the researcher new information and facts that can not be obtained in other ways.

Aerospace research methods provide complex images of the landscape structure and allow us to trace changes in the components of the biosphere over large distances and areas in large regional and global sizes. Another advantage of remote sensing is the cyclical nature of information. The repeatability of aerospace surveys allows implementing the periodicity of observations of specified regions with any regularity (years, months, days, hours, minutes), which makes it possible to establish the dynamics of processes and phenomena in time.

The main directions of application methodology of remote sensing and GIS data in the development of a Comprehensive program:

– collection of available digital satellite images of different resolution on the territory of Atyrau and Mangystau regions and the adjacent part of the Kazakhstani sector of the Caspian sea with their inclusion in the database;

– processing of available digital satellite images, creation of an actual mosaic on the territory of the adjacent part of the Kazakhstani sector of the Caspian sea;

– study of existing geographic information systems on the territory and waters of research with the analysis of the platform, tools and database;

– development of the structure of the geographic information system with the ability to collect, store, analyze and visualize the data on natural conditions, resources and environmental conditions of the Kazakhstani sector of the Caspian sea and the coast.

On July 29, 2018, LLP “Caspian regional center for environmental monitoring and emergency situations” was established, the founders of which were ISC “Astana”, LLP “KAPE”, JSC “NC “Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary”.

On September 19, 2018, a Consortium was established, the purpose of which is to create a unified system of environmental monitoring and emergency situations in the Caspian region of Kazakhstan (KSKM water area and the territory of Atyrau and Mangystau regions). The consortium also included ISC “Astana”, LLP” KAPE”, JSC “NC” Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary”, RSE “Kazhydromet”. At the same time, the Caspian regional center for environmental monitoring and emergency situations will carry out information and methodological support of the program.

The consortium created by the ISC “Astana”, RSE” Kazhydromet “of the Ministry of energy of Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan Agency of applied ecology, JSC “NC” Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary”, Caspian center of environmental monitoring and emergency situations will become an interdepartmental structure to create a unified system of environmental monitoring and emergency situations in the Caspian region of Kazakhstan.

Dear colleagues, we believe that our experience in the implementation of integrated scientific and applied researches and monitoring system in the Kazakhstani sector of the Caspian sea will be very useful in the formation of regional and interstate systems of environmental control and monitoring of the environment and natural resources.

Joint measures are needed to study the accumulated issues and to establish research groups at the level of the five Caspian States with the support of international donor organizations.

I believe that holding the conference in the annual format as a permanent venue will be an important place where scientists and experts, diplomats and representatives of international organizations will have the opportunity to discuss the state and prospects of the Caspian region in a dynamically changing geopolitical and geo-economic situation.

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