Central Asian countries discussed progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at a high-level summit in Almaty

June 16, 2022

The Second Regional SDG Summit of Central Asian countries, “Beyond COVID ¬– Towards Just Recovery in Central Asia"

UNDP Kazakhstan

Almaty, 16 June 2022 – The Second Regional SDG Summit of Central Asian countries, “Beyond COVID ­– Towards Just Recovery in Central Asia", started today. The Summit is organized by the Government of Kazakhstan, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kazakhstan and funded by the European Union and the Asian Development Bank.

The second regional Summit is attended by political leaders from governments of Central Asia, international experts, representatives of international organizations, the diplomatic community, private sector leaders and civil society representatives from Central Asia.

On behalf of the organizers, the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Alikhan Smailov and United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator, Usha Rao-Monari, delivered a welcome speech to the Summit participants.

Alikhan Smailov noted in his speech, that Kazakhstan is committed to achieving the UN 2030 Agenda, as evidenced by the inclusion of indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals in national development strategies and programs. The Coordinating Council for the SDGs is functioning in our country to implement the assumed obligations.

At the same time, according to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, against the backdrop of deep structural changes in the global economy, it became necessary to adapt the national economic development policy for the medium term.

“In this regard, we have begun to develop the economic policy of New Kazakhstan with the active participation of the business community and experts from international organizations. Within the framework of this document, new measures are being developed to improve the investment climate and business environment, reduce the participation of the state in the economy, introduce innovations and alternative energy, and expand green financing”, the Head of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan noted.

In a video format, the Summit participants were also greeted by the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen.

Commissioner Urpilainen highlighted the EU’s commitment to helping Central Asia achieve the SDGs: “We stand by Central Asia in building more sustainable and inclusive future and advancing the regional dialogue. Our new Global Gateway Strategy will help connect Europe and its partners with investments in sustainable and high-quality infrastructure, inclusive skills development for young people, and more resilient healthcare systems for the region.”

Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic, Head of the Administration of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Akylbek Zhaparov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan Kokhir Rasulzoda, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov and Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan Mukhammetguly Mukhammedov also welcomed the Summit participants.

Today, new global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic have reversed progress and affected all population groups, in particular the most vulnerable. Challenges, such as disruption in the labour market, supply chain instability and threatened community resilience could be driving inequalities across Central Asia region countries.

To move forward in achieving sustainable development in the post-pandemic period, constructive dialogue, partnerships and bold actions are needed both at the national and regional levels. All actors – governments, business community, civil society, academia and international organizations – have a role to play in ensuring that the necessary steps are taken to achieve sustainable development.

"The success of achieving the SDGs will require a fundamental shift in the development pathways. With only eight years until 2030, a broader pursuit is required to put development “back on track” and build forward better,” said Usha Rao-Monari, UNDP Associate Administrator. “This will require investment in people, expansion of social protection, provision of quality education, creation of decent jobs, transition to renewable energy, and ensuring digitalisation for all. Such bold action requires rethinking the system of SDG financing.”

Topical presentations at the Summit were also delivered by a number of world top-notch experts, including well-known economist and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University (USA) Jeffrey Sachs; Senior Fellow in the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution (USA), Johannes F. Lynn; Professor of Columbia University (USA) in New York and Sciences Po (France), Shiv Someshwar; Director of UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre, Hanan Ahli; and Executive Director and Chairman of the Management Board at the Estonian e-Governance Academy, Hannes Astok; and many others.

The sessions of the Summit will provide a platform for discussing regional development challenges in Central Asia and strategies for post-pandemic recovery, which will be focused on the “green” economy and the climate agenda.Within the framework of a special session - a round table of city mayors - the participants will discuss local solutions for the development of large and small cities in Central Asia and their transition to sustainable development through the localization of the SDGs. Separate sessions will also be devoted to the issues of digitalization of public services, empowerment of women and youth for sustainable development, ensuring synergy of SDG financing with the agenda on climate, and partnerships to accelerate the attainment of the SDGs.

A bilateral meeting of Alikhan Smailov and Usha Rao-Monari was held as part of the summit. During the meeting, the parties discussed the agenda of cooperation between the Government of Kazakhstan and UNDP, which focuses on promoting economic diversification, reducing iinequalities, modernizing institutions, and sustaining environment.  The parties also discussed Kazakhstan's progress on the SDGs, including the preparation of the second voluntary national review to be presented at the UN high-level political forum in July this year.

The first regional SDG Summit was held in November 2019 in Almaty and was devoted to financing global development agenda.

*with the financial support of EU. 

(The Press Release was prepared by the UNDP in Kazakhstan)