A warm welcome

By Volker Ahlemeyer

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The EBRD’s 20th Annual Meeting got off to an unofficial start in the ultra-modern Kazakh capital of Astana on 19 May with approximately 2,000 banking professionals, policy-makers, journalists and other guests expected to visit the Bank’s flagship event.

Following this year’s theme of Supporting Markets – Asia Meets Europe, more than half of the contingent flocked to the Central Asian steppe, mostly by air, from outside Kazakhstan – from places as far away as the United States, western Europe and eastern Asia.

That’s why the EBRD teamed up with Kazakh power distribution company KEGOC to offset the carbon footprint of its event by providing a €160,000 grant to improve energy efficiency at school number 25 in the Kazakh capital.

Building a better future

At the signing ceremony held at the school, President Mirow explained to journalists that such environmental grants have now become a tradition whenever the Bank holds its Annual Meeting outside London.

The President stressed the importance of energy efficiency in Kazakhstan in general. Addressing the schoolchildren at the end of his speech, he said: “I wish this young generation all the best in this vibrant country”.

School number 25 is located in Astana’s Old Town and provides around 1,000 students with an education in both Russian and Kazakh, along with various other foreign languages. However, with temperatures frequently dropping below -30 °C, some of the school’s facilities were in urgent need of modernisation.

The EBRD’s grant will therefore help the school to replace its windows, to install proper insulation for the building’s walls along with a modern heating system.

A warm welcome

“Welcome! Herzlich willkommen! Bienvenue!” The EBRD’s help in keeping students warm produced a warm welcome in return. The Bank’s delegation and visiting journalists were greeted trilingually by the schoolchildren who proudly demonstrated their impressive English, German and French skills.

In a display of traditional Kazakh hospitality, the children showered the EBRD’s President Mirow with small handmade gifts. A group of four young couples enchanted the applauding audience with a traditional karazhorga dance, for which the girls wore either a Kazakh burik hat or were dressed in a saukele, a traditional wedding outfit.

However, woollen dresses or hats should no longer be needed after this special occasion, as the Bank’s investment will make a real difference by helping the environment and keeping the icy temperatures at bay in school number 25.

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