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Filed under: Central Asia Development Development 2.0

TEDx Bishkek chocolate cake

What makes us love our country and how we can keep our best talent and people in Kyrgyzstan were the major messages of UNDP speakers at this year’s TEDx Bishkek.

TED talks are a great way for UNDP to focus on issues rather than activities, and to show the people behind our organization.

TED talks originally focused on Technology, Entertainment and Design. However, the format had become so popular that it went well beyond these areas and now TED talks cover social issues, politics, medicine, physics and more.

Today, hundreds of smaller independent TED conferences (TEDx) address people around the world every year. TEDxLondon, TEDxMoscow, TEDxTokyo, TEDxEast – you name it. Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, hosted its first TED event in 2011.

Thousands of people listened to a success story of an international businessman from Kyrgyzstan, the personal philosophy of a rising pop singer, reflections on peculiarities of the touch generation, and other interesting talks.

Although it was an interesting and groundbreaking event in Kyrgyzstan, the talks did not touch upon the more critical issues of the country – poverty, the shadow economy, corruption, social inclusion, equality between women and men, and other development issues.

We know that UNDP has ideas worth spreading so we were excited to get involved in the 2012 TEDx event.

This year the event was an even bigger success than the first. More people attended, more watched online, and there was more buzz in social media. And this year, we had speakers from UNDP, talking about:

  • Being a woman in Kyrgyzstan
  • Ethnic versus national identities
  • Growing inequalities between urban and rural populations
  • Ways to love and nurture our environment, pastures and culture

Nurgul Asylbekova’s talk on gender inequality in Kyrgyzstan and its short- and long-term effects on our lives became the second most viewed speech online. (in Russian)

Nadejda Dobretsova’s talked about how Bishkek is sucking up more and more resources from the local level leaving behind more and more vulnerable populations. (in Russian)

Ludmila Penkina’s talk alerted online opinion makers to shrinking pastures in Kyrgyzstan. (in Russian)

Well, we were rewarded by lots of blogging (in Russian) and tweeting (in Russian).

Preparing for the event taught us to:

Go where the conversation is: TED is already an established and popular brand, and includes opinion makers. Instead of expecting people to always come to UNDP events, it makes sense to participate in established and popular forums.

Package our information better: In theory, TED is just like any other talk delivered at roundtable discussions, press conferences, and meetings that happen at UNDP every day. We need to learn how to package our advocacy in a similar way: well articulated and with a longer shelf-life.

Focus on issues not activities: The TED event clearly showed that we have to talk about issues, not about activities. People care about issues, not projects and programmes. TED organizers were extremely good in making us speak to the point.

Showcase people: People listen to people, not organizations. Our messages are heard and shared widely when they are spelled out by individuals who know the subject matter very well and voice it with a personal passion.


  • http://www.facebook.com/olena.ursu Olena Ursu

    Dear Kairatbek and Jyldyz! I loved this post so much! Watched your TED talks – these are the ideas worth spreading indeed! they made me want to contact the organisers of Ukrianian TED conferences :) Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.facebook.com/murzakimov Kairatbek Murzakimov

      Thanks, Olena! I hope you were able to connect with them and make something together. BTW, we helped organize a second TEDxBishkek event devoted to women. Videos will come soon.