Urban Forum Almaty 2016

On November 15, the Urban Forum Almaty 2016 was held at the Academy of Sciences.

The main theme was the concept of Resilience – the ability of the city as a sustainable system to develop constructively, to withstand negative factors and cope with the deficit of external and internal resources, without losing its identity.

The work of the annual city conference began with the welcome speech of the deputy akim of Almaty, Zhunusova A.A.; summarizing the work of the Urban Forum Almaty team and presenting a study of social identity that was conducted in three residential (dormitory) areas of Almaty – Orbita, Tastak and Shanyrak. Research tools: the method of mental maps (analysis of architecture and social groups of areas), focus groups with the participation of sociologists, urbanists, architects and representatives of the city administration and questioning of area residents (1,200 people).

The overwhelming majority of the respondents in Almaty feel to be part of the area/district they live in (Orbita – 78%, Tastak – 84%, Shanyrak – 85%). Most often, the residents of Shanyrak communicate with their neighbors (52%) and are ready to help (50%), while in Tastak they never communicate with their neighbors (42%) and only a third (37%) are ready to help, about the same in Orbita (35%).

Public activity of citizens. The survey revealed a low percentage of residents involved in public organizations (Orbita – 2%, Tastak – 3%, Shanyrak – 12%), while the majority does not want to be involved (Orbita – 82%, Tastak 73% , Shanyrak – 53%). There is the least awareness of public events in Tastak (6%), Shanyrak more than a third (39%) and Orbita 13%.

What do the respondents want? Almost half of the residents of Shanyrak (45%) would like to participate in sports events, in Tastak the most popular would be fairs (25%) and festivals (23%), in Orbita residents are interested in master classes (29%), fairs (21%) and festivals (20%).

Jobs in dormitory areas of Almaty. The lowest shortage of jobs in the area is felt in Tastak (67%), 80% of respondents in Shanyrak and the vast majority in Orbita (91%). Approximately one-fourth of respondents said there was a shortage of jobs in the “office area” (Orbita – 24%, Tastak – 22%, Shanyrak – 24%).

Leisure of Almaty residents. Residents of our city are satisfied (5 points) with shopping centers, shops, cafes and restaurants. But in Orbita, according to the residents, people are not happy with the park zones (3 points) and children’s playgrounds (3 points); a similar situation in Shanyrak (by 2 points each).

Criteria for the value of areas when choosing a place of residence. All interviewed Almaty residents unanimously put “affordable and high-quality education” in the first place.

Most of all the citizens are unhappy with garbage on the sidewalks and streets. At the same time, the majority of respondents in all districts believe that their district will become better in the future.

Do Almaty residents speak with authorities? Residents of Orbita (13%) and Shanyrak (15%) are more likely than residents of Tastak (6%) discuss the district’s problems with the authorities.

Presentation of the study “Social Identity of Residents of Dormitory Areas in Almaty

The Urban Forum Almaty 2016 program was divided into five main sections – five aspects of urban sustainability:

The city as an information field.

Moderator: Adil NURMAKOV, Urban Forum Almaty
Format: Roundtable


This section aims to analyze the effectiveness of existing channels of communication between the city administration and citizens – from feedback through elected representatives to discussions in social networks, from mass media to the activities of the Public Council – and to develop proposals to improve the quality of these communications.

– Adil Dossymov, specialist in public communications, publisher of almanews.com
– Aidos Sarym, member of the Public Council of Almaty, public figure
– Artur Kotenev, deputy of the Maslikhat of Almaty
– Katerina Novoselova, Urban Talks initiative group
– Anna Poznyak, specialist in urban communications, Minsk, Belarus
– Alim Sailybayev, Project Manager, Social Farm

Air quality and green areas.

Moderators: Rowan KENNEDY, British Council and Ewan SIMPSON, KBTU
Format: presentations and panel discussion


The Urban Forum Almaty partners – the British Council and the Kazakh-British University of Technology – have built this section on the review of the best British practices to overcome the air quality crisis and will invite participants of the discussion to assess their applicability in Almaty. Particularly, the strategy of development of green zones as one of the ways to improve the state of the air basin was considered.

– Lorraine Youds, University of York, Head of Research for the City Observatory, York, UK
– Yelena Yerzakovich, Project Manager of the United Nations Development Program in the Republic of Kazakhstan “Sustainable Transport of Almaty”
– Assya Tulessova, activist, AUA project
– Yerkanat Zaitov, Center for Urban Studies at the Development Center of Almaty

From a sustainable infrastructure to an architectural identity.

Moderator: Zulfiya ABDUKHALIKOVA, Urban Forum Almaty
Format: project presentations, discussions


The section examined the basic principles of sustainable development of the physical space of the city, as one of the three characteristics of the urban environment, along with informational and social spaces. The section revealed innovative approaches and gave effective tools in strategic planning of cities, relevant for Almaty.
The architects talked about how Almaty’s identity is formed, how to read cultural codes in the plastic of buildings and what needs to be done to revive old buildings and bring them back to life, what is the connection between preserving the cultural monuments of the city and its economic development, increase of tourist attraction.

– Professor James H. (Jim) Spencer, Clemson University, USA
– Natalia Livinskaya, Center for Urban Studies at the Development Center of Almaty
– Marat Gaganin, Alexey Ivzhenko, Basire Design Group architectural studio
– Adil Azhiev, the Arch Code Almaty project, dedicated to preserving the architectural identity of the city
– Polina Ivanova, the initiator of PODELNIKI arch-group, Ekaterinburg, Russia

Business and economics.

Moderator: Pavel KOKTYSHEV, MOST Business Incubator and Business Accelerator
Format: project presentations, discussions


Business always changes the urban space, but not always in the interests of the urban ecosystem. As part of this discussion, Urban Forum Almaty sets the task to understand the processes taking place in the business sector of Almaty and identify measures that would promote the development of areas – primarily non-central ones – by encouraging businesses to transform urban space.

– Tatiana Vybornova, Director of Marketing at MEGA Park Almaty
– Natalia Tyan, AB Restaurants
– Nastya Goncharova, director of Strelka, movable mobile business
– Alexander Slavsky, program director of Impact Hub Odessa, Odessa, Ukraine.
– Anna Shelepova, president of the “Sport Concept” public fund
– Asset Abdualiyev, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Almaty Development Center, JSC

Audio recording of the section “Economics and Business

Presentation of Nastya Goncharova “What do you associate a food trailer with?
Presentation of Natalia Tyan “AB Restaurants
Presentation by Tatiana Vybornova “MEGA Center Kazakhstan
Presentation by Alexander Slavsky “Impact Hub Odessa

Principles of the cultural policy of the post-industrial city on the example of Almaty.

Moderator: Svyatoslav MURUNOV (Russia)
Format: roundtable


The session participants presented case studies and raised questions on the basis of the understanding that it is impossible to seriously discuss the city’s identity and balanced development without investing in culture – but resources should not come along with the desire to control creative energy.
What makes Almaty the cultural capital of Kazakhstan? Can a modern city be considered a cultural center, relying only on traditional institutions organized by the state? How noticeable is the cultural cluster in Almaty, what is the independent creative potential of the city?

– Galina Koretskaya, Head of Art Department of the British Council in Kazakhstan
– Zarina Akhmatova, journalist, editor of Vlast Internet magazine
– Larisa Pak, curator of the TEDxAlmaty conference
– Nargiz Shukenova, film producer, creator of the festival of “Clique” auteur cinema
– Olga Veselova, director and organizer of the ARTBAT FEST contemporary art festival
– Olga Sultanova, theater manager, creator of the “Revelation” theater festival
– Rustem Begenov, art director of ORTA, director and producer

Audio recording of the final conclusions of the section “Principles of the cultural policy of the post-industrial city on the example of Almaty

Urban Forum Almaty 2016 summarized and presented the projects of the winners of the contest «Realization of socially significant projects aimed at the development of Almaty» and announced a similar competition for the development of non-central areas/districts of Almaty (details until the end of November 2016). The competition is supported by the Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan.

Partners: Development Center of Almaty, Chevron Kazakhstan, U.S. Consulate Almaty, British Council Kazakhstan / Kazakh-British Technical University / Newton-Al-Farabi Partnership Program / BEIS, Goethe-Institut Kasachstan, Atomik Architecture, MOST Business Incubator and Business Accelerator, AB Restaurants.

General partner: Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan.


Urbanization concentrates the risk in cities – they become more vulnerable to shocks and stresses. The consequences of climate change, lack of resources, air pollution, congestion of the transport system, migration flows, risks of the economic crisis in general, and social inequalities in particular are the biggest problems for city planning and management.
Improving the individual systems that make up our city will enhance the stability of Almaty as a whole. Flexible systems withstand, react and adapt more readily to impacts; become stronger, having overcome difficult times, and live better in good times.
Resilience is the interaction of all levels – the government and city authorities, the private sector and civil society working together to achieve a common goal: reducing catastrophic risk and at the same time improving the daily lives of residents, which is impossible without preserving their local identity.

Program of conference “Urban forum Almaty 2016

Press release.