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    Green campus concept relaunched at KazNARU

    A team of young scholars, teachers, and students at KazNARU presented the preliminary concept of the green campus project as a part of a series of lectures and public presentations about youth initiatives and innovations on sustainable development goals (SDGs).

    The brainstorming and discussions started in early 2022 and included the development and integration of new ideas, the startup pitches, and the innovations into the concept of the green campus. Young scholars and students have analyzed not only the theoretical aspects of ‘greening’ partnership and action plans but also the practical aspects of integrating the results of innovative students’ research studies and startups into the implementation process of sustainable development goals.

    This project envisions the relaunch of the idea of a green campus that unfortunately received less attention and effort during the COVID-19 pandemic and related to the closures of universities around the world. Indeed, the concept of the green campus has a long history and has been implemented over more than three decades mainly in developed countries in the west.

    In 2015, this concept receive a significant additional push with the introduction of sustainable development goals as a UN agenda until 2030. With the introduction of SDGs, many universities especially student organizations not only in developed countries but also in the developing world started rethinking the ways how they can implement more effectively the concept of greening their campuses. This is especially essential for achieving the implementation of sustainable development goals, increasing the contribution to the reduction of pollution, energy consumption, and mitigating the negative aspects of climate change.

    The Rector of KazNARU Tlektes I. Yespolov highlighted that the universities in the region have been already for many years working on implementing the concept of green campus in many localities with the aim to make the campuses more user-friendly for students and educators by using new technologies and new innovative approaches. In this context, KazNARU has a unique advantage, which is related to the fact that this university intensively works on experimenting with various vegetations and selecting plants, bushes, and trees for urban habitat. Students and faculty focus on identifying plants that are more effective in absorbing heat, and air pollution, sustainable in surviving in the modern urban environment, and improving their steadiness through the selection process.

    Indeed, some principles of the concept of the green campus are very simple and include familiar elements and steps. At the same time technical development, innovations, and creative thinking allow for integrating the latest technologies and ICT achievements into improving life on the campuses and making them greener and more sustainable.

    The creativity initiatives of students allow finding new approaches and ideas to solving old problems. For example, during the 2021–2022 academic year, the students of KazNARU developed more than 15 small and not-so-small startups and innovations.

    For example, they initiated planting and replanting flowers, bushes, and trees inside and outside their campuses. They also promoted switching from plastic to reusable bottles and created dynamic video presentations about their visions of green campuses for national and international competitions and events, such as the international “Creative spark – big idea challenge”. There is also a plan to integrate ideas of teaching about sustainable development into KazNARU’s MBA/EMBA programs.

    Professor Rafis Abazov, Director of the Institute for green and sustainable development at KazNARU highlighted that the future of a green economy and green development starts not only with large plans and agendas but also with the implementation of concrete sustainable development goals in the concrete localities. For example, many small but concrete green campus actions at universities and innovative green projects developed by young people and students will take us hundreds of small steps forward in saving our planet. He quoted great traveler and naturalist Roberts Swan “The greatest threat to our plant is the belief that someone else will save it for us!”

    The photo is courtesy of Rafis Abazov, Institute for green and sustainable development, KazNARU

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