Freedom Holding Corp. contributes to UN global goals in Central Asia

Climate change, hunger, poverty, lack of education and clean water are the most pressing issues facing humankind today. These challenges cannot be addressed by any single nation or state, and require a global response.

In order to contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, while adopting and promoting sustainable and socially responsible policies, international businesses have established the UN Global Compact. Timur Turlov, the founder and CEO of Nasdaq-listed Freedom Holding Corp., has recently been appointed Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the UN Global Compact in Central Asia. A major internal ESG transformation of the company has already begun, and a special new corporate foundation – Freedom Shapagat – has been created for the its charitable and sponsorship activities related to the promotion of sustainable development.

Turlov thinks sustainable development is crucial and has long been a champion of social and charitable causes in the region. Last year, the company spent up to KZT 30 billion on social and humanitarian initiatives. It is encouraging to see a man willing to invest in making the world a better place, whether it is the whole world or just a part of it. He has chosen to start with his own country Kazakhstan, and the Aral Sea.

The Aral Sea could be described as a symbol of climate change, and the international community has recognised its drying up as one of the worst environmental disasters in Central Asia. The International Fund to Save the Aral Sea (IFAS) was established by Central Asian leaders over thirty years ago to address this environmental crisis and improve the socio-economic situation in the Aral Sea region.

Freedom Holding Corp. has partnered with IFAS to help plant black saxaul and other sustainable plants on the dry Aral Sea bed.

“The creation of such ‘green’ oases will not only reduce the negative impact of the ecological disaster on the Aral Sea, but will also have a positive impact on the health of the local people,” says Turlov. Creating the oasis will also help mitigate climate change by increasing carbon sequestration by plants and soil, making the restoration of the Aral Sea ecosystem project a direct contributor to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 13: Combating Climate Change. It is a USAID initiative supported by socially responsible companies.

“This year, the chairmanship of IFAS passed to Kazakhstan. We can improve the condition of this unique body of water only through a joint effort. Such a task can only be accomplished by consolidating the efforts of all member countries of the Fund, non-governmental organisations and us – the business community,” comments Turlov.

Another of the company’s contributions to the sustainable circular economy is Freedom Fandomat. A unique device for collecting plastic bottles and aluminium cans for recycling has just been unveiled in the city of Almaty. It will help to create a habit of separate waste collection and conscious consumption among Kazakhstan’s population. Around 100 Fandomats will be installed in the most frequented places in Almaty and the capital Astana.

Supporting educational projects and sports is also one of Turlov’s passions. Freedom Holding Corp. has supported the renovation and expansion of the IQanat High School in Burabay, in the Akmola region. With the opening of the new campus, up to 800 talented children from rural areas across Kazakhstan will be able to receive an excellent education.

“I want young talents to realise that they have a social elevator that they can use to become successful,” Turlov says.

Freedom Holding Corp. has also launched a youth football league (QJ League) and promoted the sport of chess, especially among children. Turlov, who is the President of the Kazakhstan Chess Federation is convinced that “the game of chess knows no borders and sets aside all politics.” The company is sponsoring chess tournaments from Samarkand in Uzbekistan to New York, USA.

Traditionally, people and businesses tend to keep quiet about charitable deeds, but it is better not to, says Turlov. Others should see what has been done and want to follow suit. Turlov believes that wealth and prosperity are not a “zero-sum” game. “Many poor people see the economy as a zero-sum game, where you have a fixed amount of resources that somehow have to be distributed among all the citizens of the country. If some have a lot of resources, that means some others are poor. It does not work that way – if you create value as an entrepreneur, the economy thrives and everyone gets richer. But it is the responsibility of the owners of large resources to use them properly,” says Turlov.