The possibilities for NGOs and the state to work together on sustainable development were discussed at the Civic Forum in Astana
October 19, 2023
The Civic Forum in Astana hosted a session on “Creating sustainable platforms in partnership with NGOs to achieve the SDGs in Central Asia.” The event brought together the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and several Central Asian NGOs to discuss the creation of sustainable platforms for cooperation.
Distinguished attendees included Vice-Minister of National Economy Abzal Abdikarimov, UNDP Global Director of Gender Equality Raquel Lagunas, and representatives of Central Asian NGOs. The session was moderated by the Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in Kazakhstan, Sukhrob Khodzhimatov.
The session focused on civil society's role in achieving sustainable development. Abdikarimov emphasized the vital contribution of NGOs to achieving the SDGs in Kazakhstan:
“The Parliamentary Commission on Monitoring the Implementation of National Goals and Objectives in the field of sustainable development included representatives of non-governmental organizations. In 2019 and 2022, civil society played an important role in preparing the Voluntary National Review in Kazakhstan on the implementation of the SDGs. This work would be impossible without the involvement of public organizations representing the interests of citizens and covering many spheres of life.”
During the session, several examples demonstrated the effectiveness of partnerships between NGOs and governments in Central Asia. For instance, Guljamal Nurmuhamedova, the Director of the Analytical Agency “Ynanch-Vepa” in Turkmenistan, shared the experience of NGO cooperation in water resources management.
Raquel Lagunas focused on involving civil society in gender equality issues. She highlighted the slow pace of progress and the need to accelerate changes to achieve the SDGs:
“A vibrant civic society is a key element in a democratic society. NGOs play a critical role in responding to the real needs of people and have a huge potential to promote gender equality. At the current rate of progress, we will not achieve the SDGs. For instance, it will take 140 years to achieve equal representation in leadership at the workplace. Do we want to wait this long? Achieving gender equality in Central Asia and Kazakhstan is a shared responsibility.”
The importance of working with the civil sector to implement the SDGs was also highlighted by UNDP Resident Representative Katarzyna Wawiernia during the Civic Forum plenary session on 19 October.
“Non-governmental organisations play an important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and serve as a “bridge” between the government and citizens to ensure their effective interaction,”emphasized Katarzyna Wawiernia.
Today, there are about 18,000 civil sector organisations in Kazakhstan, one third of which are engaged in systemic support for vulnerable groups. This work makes an important contribution to the central goal of the 2030 Development Agenda of “leaving no one behind”.
In July 2021, UNDP and the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Kazakhstan signed an agreement to launch a project to create a Regional platform for exchanging knowledge on the SDGs for Central Asia. The platform promotes the region's integration, bringing together countries to share knowledge, strengthen institutions, and solve financial problems slowing down sustainable development.
The session clarified that civil society's role is vital in achieving sustainable development, and active interaction between state and non-governmental organizations is necessary to guarantee the successful implementation of sustainable initiatives at the regional level.
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