EU-funded SDG Platform for Central Asia: Advancing SDG-oriented budgeting in Kazakhstan

May 13, 2024
Image: UNDP Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan's commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is evident through their integration into the State Planning System. With 88 national-level SDG indicators aligned with National Projects and Regional Development Programmes, Kazakhstan aims to achieve them by 2030. However, any successful outcome depends not only on institutional and legislative enhancement; adequate financing plays a pivotal role.

Aligning planning and budgeting for SDG success

To meet the SDGs by 2030, Kazakhstan is synchronizing its state planning system with budgetary processes. Adopting an SDG-focused approach to budgetary analysis and coordination is providing a robust strategy. This method improves monitoring quality and establishes transparent interlinkages, thereby allowing for the early identification of potential risks to the targets’ attainment.

This research is part of the UNDP programme, funded by the European Union (EU), which is establishing a regional SDG Platform for Central Asia. Serving as a knowledge-sharing hub, it monitors sustainable development progress in the region and accelerates such progress by spotlighting areas needing greater attention.

Evaluating Kazakhstan's financial commitment to the SDGs

In 2022, UNDP and the Economic Research Institute comprehensively evaluated Kazakhstan's adherence to the 17 SDGs and their 169 associated targets by assessing the state budget’s alignment with the SDGs. The findings indicated that while an average of 81 percent of the state budget was allocated to the SDGs, only 58.6 percent of the targets received funding. This disparity highlights a potential misalignment between budgetary allocations and target prioritization.

Key budgetary allocations were made to:

  • Poverty eradication (SDG 1) – 21.7 percent of the state budget.

  • Quality education (SDG 4) – 14.1 percent of the state budget.

  • Industrialization, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG 9) – 11.4 percent of the state budget.

Conversely, crucial areas like gender equality (SDG 5), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), and combating climate change (SDG 13) received less than 1 percent of the budget. Notably, the conservation of aquatic ecosystems (SDG 14) was entirely overlooked.

Strengthening budgetary responsibility

In 2021, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized the necessity of a block budget to enhance accountability among budget programme administrators. This reform aims to consolidate budgetary programmes, to optimize utilization, to simplify procedures and to increase budgetary flexibility.

Incorporating SDG targets into budgetary programmes can facilitate this consolidation thereby ensuring considerations like gender, age and vulnerable groups align with the "leave no one behind" principle. Such integration enhances policy effectiveness assessment, accountability, and budgetary efficiency.

Kazakhstan's global SDG positioning

Kazakhstan's SDG performance significantly impacts its global standing. As of 2023, Kazakhstan ranked 66th out of 163 countries in the SDG Index, scoring 71.7 out of 100. Challenges persist in SDGs related to malnutrition (SDG 2), clean energy (SDG 7), climate change (SDG 13), terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15), peace and justice (SDG 16), and sustainable partnerships (SDG 17).

Around the world, countries have adopted various budgeting approaches to align with the SDGs, including:

  • Integrating SDG targets into budget documentation (Mexico).

  • Segmenting the national budget based on SDG priorities (Japan).

  • Aligning goals with budgetary classifications (Nepal).

  • Incorporating SDG performance indicators in budget processes (New Zealand).

  • Adopting a simple budgetary coding system (Indonesia and Thailand).

What to do?

  • To bolster SDG-oriented budgeting in Kazakhstan, the following recommendations are proposed:

  • Incorporate SDG indicators in block budget development.

  • Align consolidated budgetary programmes with SDG targets.

  • Analyze financing opportunities for achieving national SDG targets by 2030.

  • Conduct constant and comprehensive analyses of budgetary programmes financing the SDGs.

  • Revisit budgetary legislation and accept SDG principles like "SDG budgeting," "gender budget," “climate budget,” and "children's budget," and develop methodological approaches.

  • Consider introducing SDG indicators and targets into the Unified Budget Classification.

In conclusion, prioritizing SDG-oriented budgeting is crucial for Kazakhstan's sustainable development. It promotes coherence, accountability, and efficiency in resource allocation, driving Kazakhstan closer to achieving the global SDGs and fulfilling its commitment to sustainable development.

20 years of EU-UNDP partnership

The partnership between the EU and UNDP exemplifies the transformative power of regional cooperation and international solidarity. By combining the EU's resources and technical expertise with UNDP's local insights and commitment to development, this collaboration is a catalyst for positive change. Together, they address critical issues like sustainable economic development, inclusive governance, environmental sustainability, and social resilience, advancing the goal of improving lives across Kazakhstan and Central Asia.


This publication was funded by the EU. Its contents are the sole responsibility of UNDP and do not necessarily reflect the views of the EU.