Protecting Georgia’s forests through sustainable rural development

04 Feb 2022 Forests play a vital role in regulating the world’s climate and preventing biodiversity loss. In Georgia, Nana Janashia is working with both the government and local communities to protect them. At the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in November, 141 countries signed a commitment to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”. This […]

Tech training offers hope for Tajikistan’s unemployed youth

24 Jan 2022 With booming demographics in Tajikistan, few and far between job opportunities are fuelling migration and social problems. Komron Rakhmatullaev wants to change this through training young people in tech and digital skills. A lack of job opportunities in Tajikistan led to 1.6 million people – a quarter of the working population – to seek work […]

Azerbaijan prison reforms begin to tackle children’s rights

21 Jan 2022 Until recently, young offenders were treated in the same way as adults by Azerbaijan’s punitive judicial system. Legal reforms are gradually creating a more progressive system for offenders of all ages. Based on the punishment rather than the rehabilitation of offenders, Azerbaijan’s criminal justice system is a legacy of the Soviet era. It was customary […]

Putting sport at the centre of Russia’s health policies

14 Jan 2022 Russia is experiencing a health crisis, with high levels of heart disease being one cause of a declining population. But one man is on a mission to change this, through love of fitness. Russia’s population saw its largest ever peacetime decline in 2020. Although COVID-19 was the principal reason for this, even before the pandemic, […]
The top of a police car with it's blue light flashing

When police commit crimes, who holds them to account? 

02 Dec 2021 Recent killings – from George Floyd to Roman Bondarenko and many others – have highlighted global patterns of violence committed by police, shining a light on the need for greater police accountability.  “Who Polices the Police?” is a major report published this year and co-authored by Masha Lisitsyna, one of our Fellows from Kyrgyzstan. It explores how independent investigative agencies and prosecutorial departments around the […]

Serving the public and driving change in Moldova  

20 Oct 2021 When Moldova’s main pro-European party won a resounding victory in parliamentary elections in July 2021, several young candidates were among those elected to become MPs from the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) founded by Maia Sandu. One of those elected was JST Fellow Andrian Cheptonar (Moldova, 2018), an entrepreneur, e-governance enthusiast, former civil servant and proud father of two from Ungheni region in western Moldova.  “It’s an honour and a big responsibility on my shoulders to represent people in my constituency and build […]

Preparing young Kazakhs for the modern workplace

29 Sep 2021 As in much of the world, COVID-19 dramatically disrupted the education system in Kazakhstan, affecting young people’s opportunities and future job prospects. While many educators saw the transition to online learning as a temporary set-back, John Smith Trust Fellow Diana Tsoy (Kazakhstan, 2019) has used the challenging circumstances created by the pandemic to establish a forward-looking online training resource for her country’s young population. is an online support resource for young people […]

Reforming policy-making in criminal justice in Armenia

22 Sep 2021 Armenia has been on a journey to reform its criminal justice system for the decade. Changes to the penitentiary system, and specifically the probation services, have been an important element of the reform process, as the country has taken steps towards a more effective system of rehabilitating offenders and stopping cycles of criminal behaviour. As Head […]

Advancing gender equality, climate action and social justice in Ukraine and beyond

08 Sep 2021 Photo taken from 13th Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament video, 6th September 2021

Championing human resource management reforms in Ukraine

05 Aug 2021 Ukraine is going through unprecedented reforms to consolidate its path to a democratic, prosperous and peaceful future. In 2016, two years after the Revolution of Dignity, the international donors who support good governance in Ukraine introduced the Ukraine Reforms Architecture (URA). It is an innovative, comprehensive reform support program whose key instruments are dedicated Reform […]

Increasing Effectiveness and Accountability of Georgia’s Public Sector

29 Jul 2021 Georgia is striving towards the modernisation of its public administration. The process is seen as a prerequisite of the country’s EU integration and is therefore a key national objective. One of the central components of the country’s public administration reform plans is the development of an evidence-based policy-making system that responds to real needs and […]

Changing attitudes to sex education in Kazakhstan

20 Jul 2021 Karlygash Kabatova (JST, 2019) is changing attitudes to sex education in Kazakhstan. Her online platform Uyat Emes (‘Not Shameful’), which provides a safe space for young people and parents to learn about sexual and reproductive health rights, is about to reach a large new audience. Karlygash is working with UNESCO to launch a chatbot via […]

Protecting rights and making citizens’ voices heard in Uzbekistan

13 Jul 2021 When Uzbekistan’s new leadership set out to ‘modernise and liberalise all spheres of life’ in 2016, the government’s ambitions included the adoption of international standards in citizen participation. Many citizens have grasped the opportunity to make their voices heard using the plethora of new mechanisms that have been set up: community councils, online petitions, ‘people’s […]

Developing new tools for civic engagement in Armenia

29 Jun 2021 As Armenia emerges from a period of instability and political turmoil, the country needs active and engaged citizens who understand their civic rights and duties more than ever. Civic engagement is an issue close to the heart of JST Fellow Julya Sahakyan (Armenia, 2018) and an area that she has spent most of her career […]

Introducing community-led planning to Uzbekistan’s Covid response

31 Mar 2021 The Covid-19 pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on governments across the world to support and protect vulnerable citizens. Like many countries, Uzbekistan has faced the challenge of ensuring that its package of support is equally accessible to all citizens, including those living in remote rural regions far from the capital, Tashkent. Through his work at […]

Supporting good governance through legal education in Russia

22 Mar 2021 The practical manifestation of Dina Biygishieva’s unshakeable belief in the power of good governance and the rule of law can be seen through her work as a lawyer in Russia where her guiding principle has always been helping her fellow citizens better understand the law and the rights it affords them. Dina’s work has taken […]

Empowering Georgian society through financial inclusion

12 Mar 2021 When, in 1995 at the age of 18, Archil Bakuradze founded the Charity Humanitarian Centre Abkhazeti (CHCA) to support internally displaced people in his country, little did he know that he was laying the foundations for a company which would one day become Georgia’s leading microfinance institution committed to ending poverty in the country.  Perhaps no surprise as the […]

Digital transformation in the Kyrgyz Republic

03 Mar 2021 (Find the story behind this photo at the bottom of the article). The Kyrgyz Republic has an ambitious digital transformation policy. And it needs to be ambitious! The country is almost entirely mountainous – 94% of the country lies at over 1000 metres above sea level – so building internet infrastructure is a challenge to […]

Fostering young journalistic talent and media literacy in Central Asia

18 Feb 2021 ‘Zira’ [cumin] is a key ingredient in the Central Asian rice dish plov. The spice is also the inspiration for the name of an online media platform – Zira Media – founded and run by Muhaiyo Nozimova (Tajikistan, 2018) which aims to develop journalistic skills and media literacy among young people in Central Asia. Muhaiyo […]

Advancing the integrity of Moldova’s justice system

12 Feb 2021 The landslide victory of the opposition candidate, Maia Sandu, in Moldova’s presidential elections in November 2020 signaled a decisive change in the country’s direction. Sandu, who favours closer ties with the EU, won the run-off by harnessing voters’ anger and exhaustion with political scandal and endemic corruption. ‘Moldovans need a state that does not steal, […]