The economy of Central Asia: the future of cooperation with the European Union

February 2, 2024
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

A roundtable discussion on the economy of Central Asia (CA) and the future of cooperation with the European Union (EU) was held today at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Office in Brussels. The event was attended by delegates from UNDP, the Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) of the European Commission, and ambassadors of CA countries to the EU.

The parties discussed ways to boost sustainable economic growth in the region, for instance, by creating partnerships to ensure a steady supply of critical raw materials and enhancing the efficiency of the Middle Corridor, drawing on the experience and investments of the EU private sector. The participants also emphasized the importance of supporting the transition of CA economies towards environmentally friendly and sustainable systems, in line with their climate commitments on emissions.

During the event, Katarzyna Wawiernia, the UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan, delivered a speech highlighting the significance of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9 in establishing sustainable infrastructure to reach other SDGs. As per the findings of the SDG Platform for CA, funded by the EU, nearly half of the Goals and their indicators rely on the region's capacity to create innovative infrastructure. Additionally, the Resident Representative emphasized the significance of the Trans-Caspian Corridor and the sustainable development of the Caspian region overall. 

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan
“We recommend adopting a sustainable landscape management approach for the future development of the Caspian region. In this regard, UNDP, in partnership with the Government of Kazakhstan, is planning a large-scale initiative to promote an integrated ecosystem-based approach to conserve key species and habitats of the Caspian Sea and ensure sustainable economic development for local communities. Throughout its history, the Caspian Sea has been a significant source of biological resources. They make up a single ecosystem that requires strong protection from natural and people-made factors,”
Katarzyna Wawiernia said.

Concluding her speech, the Resident Representative expressed on behalf of UNDP in Kazakhstan her readiness to support the further sustainable development of CA: 

“Given the benefits of SDG acceleration power of transport connectivity projects, we believe it is possible to reduce the burdens of environmental and social costs by seeking the inputs of the international and local partners into joint action. Over the years, UNDP has accumulated experience and expertise that can be used to meet the challenges of our programme countries. The right path of CA states toward sustainable development should be accompanied by data-driven, evidence-based, and risk-informed decision-making, using the knowledge and best practices worldwide. We stand ready to support."