Joint action for the Sustainable Development Goals

Focus on North Macedonia

February 7, 2024

We are at the half-point to the deadline set for achieving the 2030 Agenda. The 17 sustainable development goals represent our collective commitment to address pressing challenges. The unwelcome news is that ‘the world is off track on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’, however what gives optimism is the ‘recognition that a fundamental shift is needed – in commitment, solidarity, financing, and action – to put the word on a better path’. Echoing the words of UNDP’s Administrator Steiner ‘In a world defined by uncertainty, we need a renewed sense of global solidarity to tackle our interconnected, common challenges’. Solidarity has been topic of interest for our UNDP country office in North Macedonia throughout 2023, when we opened a wide societal discussion about the renewed importance of solidarity in development work today. In this process, we collaborated with one of the leading think tanks in the country to jointly publish the first Compendium on Solidarity: from Overcoming crisis to Sustainable Development welcoming eminent professors, practitioners, young scholars, and students. These articles advocated for new ideas, ways of thinking useful not just to our UNDP country office, but also to public institutions. 

Mid-September marked the international Summit dedicated to the SDGs, with the ambition to bridge the gap between the SDG ambition and our progress towards it. Leading up to the summit, North Macedonia was one of the countries that developed its own SDG Insights Report, a diagnostics of the SDG related trends in the country, its current priorities as well as interlinkages between different Goals.  For our country, investing in human capital, creating more decent jobs, enhancing scientific research, managing more sustainably the natural resources, making the economy more sustainable, ensuring our decision making at all levels is inclusive, responsive, and participatory were just some of the ‘SDG interlinkages’ that reveal how actions directed towards one #SDG in North Macedonia can impact the goals in a holistic manner.


To enhance this conversation further, working together with our Accelerator Lab team and the entire country office in Skopje we decided to continue with the practice of crowdsourcing ideas from people on how they believe we can design better policies and process that will allow us to address the development challenges of today and accelerate the achievement towards the SDGs. That is why we invited, all interested academics, practitioners, enthusiasts, young people and students to provide their diagnostics, insights and policy ideas on how we can move the Agenda 2030 forward and improve the status quo. This process culminated in the development of an SDG publication, aimed at welcoming new ideas and processes on how we can accelerate the achievement of the Agenda 2030 in North Macedonia. We joined forces in this process with one of the leading civil society organizations in the country, in a true partnership of co-creation and joint advocacy. 

The publication has already been published on our UNDP website, and you can now read the innovations, ideas and insights in the seventeen articles available, all thematically aligned to the acceleration of the Sustainable Development Goals. You can access the publication on the link bellow, and use the opportunity to ask questions to the authors and engage with our country office on the topic on our promotional event, dedicated to launch the publication, as well as kick start the conversation on advancing the SDG agenda in our country, scheduled for the end of this month. 

The UNDP country office in North Macedonia also works on multiple fronts towards accelerating the achievement of the SDGs. One process where we lend our support, is creating the National Development Strategy, a strategic document that aims to chart the country's development path for the next 20 years. This planning process is unique as its emphasis on citizens’ active involvement. We also believe it will give the country a holistic programmatic push towards accelerating the Agenda 2030 and the journey of the country towards the European Union. We have also taken an integrated and holistic approach to addressing gender equality, particularly in terms of strengthening the institutional capacities for fighting digital gender-based violence, as well as in fulfilling national and international commitments to prevent and fight gender-based violence. Notably, we played a crucial role in facilitating the establishment of counseling centers for victims of gender-based violence in three municipalities, that offer a comprehensive range of services encompassing prevention, counseling, and crisis or post-traumatic intervention. The success of these critical services is attributed to the effective collaboration fostered through inter-municipal cooperation and close partnerships between municipalities and the civic sector. Our office over the years has initiated activities that promote development-oriented policies that support decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and has helped business survive and retain workers. UNDP has supported over 22,000 people to escape from poverty by supporting their activation on the labour market while 3500 people have been given trainings in skills to improve their prospect for employment. Finally, we are contributing towards achieving higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high value added and labor-intensive sectors: Assessment of several industries provides the needed know-how to bring the future skills needed, looking into potential of several industries for digital transformation. On air pollution, one of the great challenges the country is facing, UNDP has implemented a multi-pronged intervention to tackle the problem in the City of Skopje, focusing on the residential sector. Functional model for building low-emission districts was established, enabling 129 households to replace their old and inefficient heating devices, and to implement various energy efficiency measures.

We truly believe that in North Macedonia, the SDGs are our action agenda for progress, the development roadmap of the country, but also an acceleration program that we should invest in, that can help us advance our national / regional development agenda and the EU accession process. The road to achieving the SDGs is long and winding, but it is a journey we must undertake together. Let our upcoming publication be a testament to the power of joint action—a declaration that by combining our strengths, wisdom, and resources, we can accelerate progress towards a world where no one is left behind. The SDGs ‘carry the hopes, dreams, rights and expectations of people everywhere’ stated the UN Secretary- General António Guterres, and it is our goal to bring them back to the forefront of policy-making in North Macedonia. 

Thank you for being a part of that journey with us.