Zhania Murzalina, student of Haileybury Astana: Ecology and economics - interconnected concepts

Zhania Murzalina: Ecology and economics - interconnected concepts
A Haileybury Astana student has recently won an extremely prestigious award from the Royal Economic Society in the U.K.

17-year-old Zhania Murzalina received the 2019 Young Economist Of the Year essay award from the Royal Economic Society after submitting an essay titled “Carbon tax is not enough to tackle climate change - on the contrary, we have to invest in new technologies.” The panel of leading UK experts praised our Haileybury student’s essay which was highly analytical and focused.

Zhania‘s success follows her previous success in being awarded a scholarship to study at Haileybury Astana. Each year, Haileybury Almaty and Haileybury Astana provide up to 10 100% scholarship places for students entering the sixth form. These are the final two years of study prior to entrance to the leading universities in the world. At Haileybury Almaty, students study A levels and at Haileybury Astana, the IB programme, both of which give excellent access to every top university in the world. 

Zhania is currently in her final year of study at Haileybury Astana and her success at Haileybury has now been reflected with worldwide recognition.

The Informburo.kz correspondent, met with Zhania, and they talked about how the economy is intertwined with the environment:

“Zhania, tell us a little about the contest: who participated in it, what were the conditions?

 ‘It was a competition of essays by young economists on specific topics; there were five. About 1300 people from all over the world participated in it, but most were from the UK, which made the competition very serious’. 

How did the Royal Economic Society of Great Britain choose the best essays?

Essays of 1500 words were submitted anonymously. The panel of judges examined the work on the subject of originality, quality of writing, the correctness of the economic content and reasoned answers. Of the essays submitted, six of the best works were selected for prizes, and another 30 were commended.

Top private Schools from the U.K. made up most of the entries and Zhania beat students from all of these schools such as Cheltenham Ladies College, St Paul’s School, Malvern College, Harrow School, and Westminster School.

Winners of the Young Economist of the Year 2019

"Why did you choose such a topic?"

‘It combines economics and ecology, it is interesting. I am very concerned about environmental issues, and when I was told that pollution of the planet is not such an important issue or that global warming does not exist, I proved, based on research, that these are real problems.’

In addition, Zhania has regularly participated in various environmental campaigns; she raised this topic at school. And then the opportunity presented itself to express her opinion on this issue by proposing economic solutions.

“So you are interested in ecology and economics at the same time?”

‘Yes. Some will say that these are two different things, but I think that ecology and economics are actually interconnected concepts. There is a special term in economics - the negative effects of production and consumption. This means that the production of certain types of products, for example, fuel in the oil and gas industry, leads to the fact that a huge amount of carbon dioxide is released. And this in turn causes a greenhouse effect and leads to global warming. But the economy can solve this problem, which it has created to some extent. And I tried to find this solution in the course of my research.

I wrote that this issue can be partially solved by a carbon tax. That is, if a company emits a large amount of carbon dioxide in the production process, it will have to pay a tax depending on the amount of gas emitted. True, there are also problems with this: it is difficult to measure how much gas is released, and taxes alone will not immediately lead to a reduction in emissions. Therefore, some other approaches are needed, and I tried to find them in my essay.’

Qualities that Haileybury instills in students:


Ability to analyze;

Social responsibility;





“What methods of combating global warming do you offer in your essay?”

‘In the essay, I proposed to consider the problem of global warming from different angles. So, I decided to question the assertion that only carbon dioxide contributes to climate change. Instead, I suggested that methane, as another gas contributing to the greenhouse effect, leads to a problem. While everyone is focusing on CO2 production, one should look at the extent to which methane is to blame for the problem and reduce the emission of both gases. Therefore, it is possible and necessary to introduce a tax on carbon dioxide, but it is also necessary to invest in the development of technologies for the processing of methane and CO2.’

“Judging by the fact that you were given such a prestigious award, experts considered the proposals worthy of attention. Did you get acquainted with the works of other contestants?”

‘Yes, when our economics teacher suggested participating in this competition, the class and I analyzed several works of participants in previous years. In addition, I became acquainted with the works of the participants of this year - those with whom I competed. I was surprised that the participants, as schoolchildren, wrote at such a high level. They felt knowledge of the subject, and their potential solutions to global problems were quite realistic. All of them offered non-standard solutions to various problems - from robotics and unemployment research to the pollution of the planet with plastic waste. It was very impressive.’

“You are finishing school. Will this area become a matter of your life?”

‘I'm interested in economics. Before writing the essay, I didn’t think much about the connection between economics and ecology, I treated environmental problems as something that should concern everyone. It is not necessary to choose this as your profession, you just need to know that this problem exists and take part in solving it as much as you can.’

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