Nature and environmental issues are an important topic in Kyrgyzstan. This is reflected in the amount of organisations and initiatives working in this field. A lot of them are concentrated in Bishkek, the capital. There is a dynamic crowd of people eager to make a change. We were lucky enough to meet a few.
Bishkek: a home away from home
Our first stop in Kyrgyzstan was Bishkek. Many travellers will remember the city as nothing special. A first and necessary stop before heading to the beautiful nature. We felt quite the same way before our hearts warmed to the city dominated by geometrical Soviet architecture, its international inhabitants and the typical mixture of nomad history and modernity. In Bishkek we found a home away from home. We returned from our trips to the countryside to our beloved Interhouse Hostel with its reliable Internet, clean rooms and known faces who were happy to see us again. One of them was Pete – a digital nomad who has been traveling the world for four years now. Take a look to his inspiring travel video about Kyrgyzstan. It’s worth your time!
Marathon of Interviews
Sometimes people ask me how we manage to interview people for BOCHIALKI knowing no one in the country and, in Kyrgyzstan’s case, not even being able to speak the language. The answer is simple: you research initiatives, you write them, make your case and hope for an answer. In Kyrgyzstan we got lucky a lot of times. There are so many initiatives and organisation concerned about our planet and eager to so something. For example the network called CANK* (The Climate Action Network of Kyrgyzstan) with 16 organisations. We met some of them in Bishkek and had the chance to talk to them. I want to mention two in particular: BIOM and UNISON.
Energy Efficiency and Education Programs
UNISON Group is a strategic advisory firm with a focus on environmental protection, sustainable development and social Justice. Its Program Director, Darika Sulaimanova, explains us that UNISON has been working as a specialist in energy efficiency since 2002. They are especially proud of the program called KYRSEFF. A program that offers favourable loans to business and individuals if they want to build an energy-efficient house (or renovate an existing building according to energy-efficient standards). During four years they were able to avoid to emit 30,000 CO2 emissions a year and they saved 100’000 megawatt hours of energy per year.
BIOM on the other hand focuses on raising awareness for a sustainable future. Anna Kirilenko tells us about the objectives of BIOM, a non-profit organisation uniting young specialists, scientists and leaders to address the environmental problems of Kyrgyzstan. They promote renewable energy techniques, like solar energy within all levels of the society. Another pillar is their education program about conservation of biodiversity taught in schools.
Both BIOM and UNISON are examples of what an organisation can do if they set their mind to it. An appreciation for nature and its importance for their culture was their starting point and developed into successful projects for a hopeful future.
* The CANK is the Kyrgyz sub-network of the Climate Action Network International which is a global network of NGOs, initiatives and organizations working on reducing the human impact on nature and finding ways to be more sustainable and environmental friendly.