Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan – Representatives of the European Union (EU) Delegations in Central Asia (CA) and journalists participating in the EU contest “Restoring Biodiversity – our shared responsibility” gathered for an online Award Ceremony to recognise the participants and announce the winners.

One of the 36 global Biodiversity Hotspots is in Central Asia and is formed by the two largest mountain ranges in Asia – the Pamir and the Tien Shan. At least 20 types of ecosystems are found in these mountains. They are home to the region’s rare and endemic species. However, water stress, climate change and the resulting droughts and natural disasters have placed much of the region’s unique biodiversity under serious threat. Without biodiversity conservation efforts, ensuring the well-being of 72 million people living in the region and a fair transition to a climate-secure future is impossible. 

In May 2020, the EU adopted an ambitious and comprehensive plan to tackle biodiversity loss – the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 “Bringing nature back in our lives”. Being one of the core parts of the European Green Deal, it sets ambitious EU targets and commitments to achieve healthy and resilient ecosystems. Under the Green Deal, the EU also continues supporting CA countries in their initiatives and efforts of restoring biodiversity, adapting to climate change and achieving sustainable development goals.

The contest and the ceremony were organised by the EU-funded project “European Union – Central Asia Water, Environment and Climate Change Cooperation” (WECOOP) with a purpose to raise awareness on the crisis of biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation, resource depletion and climate change, as well as the urgent need of transition towards sustainable consumption and production and circular economy.

Addressing the journalists, Mr Johannes Stenbaek Madsen, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan, noted: “Healthy, stable and biodiverse ecosystems are the foundation of our health and well-being. Yet, we continue to use our planet’s resources unsustainably. Mass media plays an important role in raising awareness, shaping attitudes and bringing change. I encourage you to continue researching and reporting on climate, biodiversity and other pressing environmental issues. We are the Generation Restoration. It’s time for us to deliver on existing commitments to restore our nature.”

In total, 37 journalists took part in the contest and submitted 67 entries, of which 22 were selected for the final round of evaluation. As a result, six winners were announced: 

I prize: Ms Anastassiya Pavlenko of “Samarkandskiy vestnik” Newspaper (Uzbekistan) with the article “Zarafshan National Park: the situation demands attention”

II prize: Mr Vladislav Ushakov of information website (Kyrgyzstan) with the photo spread “Who and What destroys Kyrgyzstan, or peculiarities of national ecocide”; and Mr Zhasyn Birkenov of Khabar 24 TV (Kazakhstan) with the video story “Aral”

III prize: Ms Zulfiya Raisova of regional information portal on Central Asia (Kazakhstan) with the article “Red book status doesn’t help in increasing the number of animals in Kazakhstan”; Mr Nursultan Myktybayev of media portal (Kazakhstan) with the article “Kazakhstani conservationists of the saiga: the fate of steppe antilope and inspectors is the current concern of the planet”; and Ms Irina Bairamukova of Expert on Kyrgyzstan analytical business journal (Kyrgyzstan) with the story on “Birds of Kyrgyzstan: protection by destroying?”

The winners will participate in the study tour to the Kyrgyz Republic to learn about the practices of biodiversity conservation and restoration. The tour will be organised by the WECOOP project, preliminarily in September 2021. All journalists were awarded with certificates of appreciation.

Background: The EU-funded project “European Union – Central Asia Water, Environment and Climate Change Cooperation” (WECOOP) (third phase from October 2019 to October 2022) aims to enhance environment, climate change and water policies at national levels in Central Asia through approximation to EU standards and to promote investments in relevant sectors with the aim of contributing to measurable reductions in man-made pollution, including CO2 emission. The project activities include support to the EU–CA Platform for Environment and Water Cooperation and its Working Group on Environment and Climate Change, as well as implementation of the EU Green Deal’s international dimension in Central Asia to advance climate action.

For additional information, please contact Mrs Yelena Serebrennikova, Senior Communication Expert, WECOOP, e-mail:, mobile/WhatsApp +77019814020, Ms Nurgul Smagulova, Event and Communication Officer, WECOOP, e-mail:, mobile/WhatsApp: +77012066760, Elnura Abakanova, Communications Officer, EU Delegation to Kazakhstan, email:

Photo by Ivan Turkovskii.