By Naveen Bawany
Day One and we get down to some serious business right from the word go at KIMEP University. The opening session starts with some very inspiring international speakers emphasising the need for networking between Civil Society Organisations (CSO) such as NGO’s, at the local and regional level. This year for the very first time, the purely central asian conference was attended by participants from Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. The Pakistani delegation was full of energy and eager to absorb as much as possible as well as share their vast experience with the host country and the other guests. Other countries present are Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia.
Session 2 consisted of panel discussions which let the participants choose the talks most relevant to their field of work. Again the panel consisted of experts representing diverse groups and issues from disabled children to climate change. Of particular interest to myself as a Sustainable Initiatives representative were the talks by Elina Doszhanova of CA CSO Climate Coalition of Almaty, as well as Dmitry Tereshkevich of the Public Council Sustainable Development International Commission (PC SDIC) and Central Asian Youth Ecologic Network (CAYEN) Astana Kazakhstan. There was an engaging Q and A session at the end of the presentations.
The intensive day ended with a gala dinner which enabled all the participants to chat with one another and share stories from their own region with the others present. Some participants even decided perform traditional dances and sing national songs. All in all a very enriching experience for all.