Workshop on the Design of the National Human Development Report on the Energy Vulnerabilities in the Kyrgyz Republic

Opening remarks by UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Louise Chamberlain

February 9, 2023


Dear colleagues and partners; Representative from the Presidential Administration; from the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, Distinguished UN colleagues, experts, civil society and academia representatives,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I warmly welcome you to this Design workshop for the next UNDP National Human Development Report. I am glad to see so many of you from all areas and sectors. No doubt the topic for the report – energy vulnerabilities – is very important and timely and a concern for all of us concerned with development issues in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The human development concept was pioneered by UNDP at the global level in the 1990s in recognition of the need to pay attention not only to purely economic indicators of countries’ prosperity, but to the non-economic indicators that influence people’s wellbeing, especially those related to health, life expectancy and educational attainment, and to the choices that people are able to make and the opportunities they have access to for improving their quality of life and standard of living. Simply put, Human development is about expanding the richness of human life rather than simply the richness of the economy.

You may be familiar with the global Human Development Reports, published by UNDP each year for over thirty years, which focuses on measuring and comparing human development across the world. This is based on the Human Development Index, with measures of life expectancy, educational attainment and gross national income per capita. While the global reports are a good tool to compare how well different countries are faring, there are reasons for going beyond national averages  to explore human development at the national and sub-national levels, and delve into particular topics.

This is why once in a couple of years we commission our independent National Human Development Reports, to investigate the situation with the wellbeing of Kyrgyzstani citizens and explore linkages of human development to a particular theme or phenomenon.

This time we decided to have decided to focus on energy issues, and in particular, energy-driven vulnerabilities, energy poverty, energy security and energy transition, and explore the linkages of these to human development in Kyrgyzstan. Energy has long since been recognized as a particular bottleneck and potential accelerator for Kyrgyzstan to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

We know that in order to meet the demands of the rising population and hence rising energy demand, the country needs to considerably scale its efforts in electricity generation.

However, Kyrgyzstan also needs to ensure that such growth doesn’t lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions or environmental degradation, following the very ambitious commitments the country has made in the recent years on climate action, outlined in the Nationally Determined Contributions (with the timeline until 2030) and a forthcoming national strategy for Low-Carbon Development until 2050, under preparation.

One such central question is how the country will be able to phase out from the polluting fuels and make the transition to green energy, while maintaining and advancing social protection and ensuring that green energy is accessible to all, and especially to those most left behind? We think therefore that the topic of a fair and just energy transition will be one of the key themes for the national human development report. And we want to explore how and why people make choices to use certain types of energy, and how such choices affect diverse aspects of their wellbeing, such as work, income, health, education and so on.

This winter has shown that ensuring universal energy security in all areas of Kyrgyzstan is challenging but necessary. At the individual level, it can even save lives, and at a national level, it is one of the most critical foundational conditions for attracting both domestic and foreign investment. So, these are other concepts we want to dive into with the NHDR report.

So, what do “energy-driven vulnerabilities” and “energy poverty” actually mean? Actually, this is one reason why we have invited you today – we want to co-define this together with you and to brainstorm together on what could be the most important linkages of energy and human development that we need to further explore. The national human development report also entails data collection, so we hope to also think together what kind of missing data gaps we may need to fill. We need views from multiple perspectives: as energy users and energy producers at both individual and corporate level, as well as policymakers.

Now, to guide us in the process, I am pleased to say we have two really excellent researchers: Mr Chris Kuonqui and Ms Anna Archangelskaya. Chris has outstanding experience leading NHDR processes successfully in a number of countries. And as many of you will know, Anna is a recognized energy expert here in Kyrgyzstan with very strong knowledge of the sector issues.

In closing, I want to emphasize that the national human development report is much more than a research paper – it is a process aimed at triggering policy debate and prompting action. Throughout, we aim to host dialogues focusing on multiple aspects of energy and human development policies, and we will provide opportunities for stakeholders to engage in such dialogues and further deliberate on the topics, so that the final recommendations are relevant and implementable with a broad backing. We very much hope and expect that the study will help us offer a range of bold and people-centered policy action for a fair and just energy transition.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We invited you here today because we want to hear all your bold and unconventional ideas and we expect that this research will give an honest and multidimensional account of multiple issues related to energy access. Please do challenge us!

I thank you once again for being here with us today and I am sure that this will be an exciting initial conversation, and I invite you all to remain engaged in the process of the developing this NHDR through to the end.

Thank you!

Chon Rakhmat!