On October 6, an event on "Financing Sustainable Development: Sustainable and Green Recovery from COVID-19" was held with the organizational support of the National Coordination Council for Sustainable Development of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Ministry of Economy and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Office in Azerbaijan
The event discussed issues of financing sustainable development, new challenges for the implementation of development priorities in Azerbaijan in the post-pandemic period, opportunities for promoting the environment that ensures the sustainability and quality of the economy through green sources, and the ways to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Minister of Economy, Deputy Chairman of the National Coordination Council for Sustainable Development Mikayil Jabbarov spoke about the measures taken in our country in the past to achieve sustainable development goals and the transition to a green economy, their financing, and support mechanisms used to protect economic stability, macroeconomic stability and jobs during a pandemic. It was also noted at the event that fluctuations in world energy markets and mandatory restrictions introduced in connection with the pandemic, had a negative impact on the economy, including on the implementation of SDGs in our country. To mitigate these effects, the Azerbaijani government has provided a $ 2.7 billion socio-economic support package for economic development and social support measures, representing more than 6 percent of GDP.
Mr. Jabbarov, emphasizing the positive results of the support measures, noted that the economy has begun a recovery process, and in the first eight months of 2021, GDP increased by 3.6 percent in real terms and non-oil exports by 40 percent since the beginning of the year and is projected to exceed $ 2.2 billion by the end of 2021. Over the past 10 years, the non-oil and gas sector has become the main factor in the growth and development of the national economy, during which foreign direct investment in the country's economy amounted to about $ 57 billion. The share of the non-oil and gas sector in GDP increased from 48% to 70%.
The Minister stressed that the restoration of our territories liberated as a result of the Great Victory in the Patriotic War in 2020 created new challenges and realities for the country's development priorities. Mr. Jabbarov further mentioned that in order to achieve important socio-economic and environmental goals facing the country in the new period, to form an effective policy for this and to restore our liberated territories, the President approved the "Azerbaijan-2030: National Priorities for Socio-Economic Development" earlier this year, which are closely aligned with the goals of the SDG.
“The draft "Strategy of socio-economic development for 2021-2025" has been prepared as part of the implementation of national priorities, and in the near future the document will be discussed in the Economic Council. The implementation of the strategy will lead to changes in 4 main directions. As a result of increasing the profitability of state-owned companies, ensuring competitive and transparent activities, efficient use of public funds, increasing the sustainability of public debt and other measures, the public sector of the economy will enter a new qualitative stage, making the economic management more efficient. As a result of the measures to be taken, the average annual real GDP growth rate is projected at 4.2 percent, and that of non-oil GDP at 5.2 percent in the next medium term. By 2025, it is planned to double non-oil exports, increase the share of the private sector in GDP to 88 percent and the share of SMBs in GDP to 35 percent in the non-oil and gas sector. According to the Ministry of Economy, this year real GDP is expected to grow at 4.8 percent”, said Economy Minister.
The Minister said that the fulfillment of Azerbaijan's obligations on the SDGs is part of the state policy, and that the National Coordination Council for Sustainable Development was created to form the implementation mechanism, and effective cooperation was established with local and international partners emphasizing that state programs, strategies, action plans covering the socio-economic and environmental spheres of the country are consistent with the targets and objectives of the SDGs. Azerbaijan was the first country in the region to submit three Voluntary National Reports on the implementation of the SDGs to the UN High-Level Political Forum. The event focused on the "Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for 2021-2025" signed by the UN and Azerbaijan in March this year.
Referring to the issue of financing the SDGs, the Minister noted that the implementation of measures to be implemented with the UN in the next 5 years, and the "Strategy for socio-economic development for 2021-2025" is a roadmap in this area. In the post-pandemic period, funding is lacking in developing countries. The need for funding is growing. In this regard, we are faced with challenges related to the efficient use of financial resources and funds. It was also noted at the event that in order to further strengthen the existing potential, it will necessitate involving international investors, donor organizations, private and public companies with large resources in the process and expanding public-private partnerships, and that it is necessary to finance measures to restore economic activity and create jobs in the liberated territories. The concepts of "smart city" and "smart village" and the projects "green energy zone" will be implemented in these territories. Currently, this process is underway in the Zangilan region, and the “smart village” concept is planned to be applied in other regions as well.
UNDP Resident Representative in Azerbaijan Alessandro Fracassetti, making a speech, emphasized that the projects implemented as a result of successful cooperation between the Azerbaijani government and the UN Development Program are an important step towards sustainable development and expressed confidence that this cooperation will continue in the coming years. Mr. Fracassetti also noted that Azerbaijan now has a unique opportunity to make systemic changes to finance green growth and the Sustainable Development Goals for sustainable investments. According to the UNDP Resident Representative in Azerbaijan, a single funding structure could be an important tool in this regard. He noted the importance of cooperation between public, private and international organizations in financing the SDGs, in which the government, as well as international organizations and financial institutions participate. Stressing that green investments will contribute to the fight against climate change, Alessandro Fracassetti said that the development and resilience of the economy using green resources is of global nature now and this mechanism will be a significant contributor in the future.
The event continued with a panel session. At the panel session moderated by Head of the Department of the Ministry of Economy Huseyn Huseynov, the topic was commented on by Deputy Energy Minister Elnur Soltanov, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Vugar Karimov, Deputy Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Nasir Sadigov, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Azerbaijan Charu Bist and Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Azerbaijan Gulnara Aslanbayli.
The press release was originally published on the website of Ministry of Economy.