Central Asian Countries Stress Cooperation for Reaching SDGs
Photo by IISD/ENB | Pamela Chasek
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Central Asian countries adopted the Ganja Declaration on ‘Enhanced Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through Cooperation,’ at the Governing Council of the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA).

The meeting reviewed progress of SPECA Thematic Working Groups on water, energy and environment; sustainable transport, transit and connectivity; trade; statistics; knowledge-based development; and gender and economy.

24 November 2016: Central Asian countries adopted the Ganja Declaration on ‘Enhanced Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through Cooperation,’ at the Governing Council of the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA). The Declaration promotes a common Central Asian vision to strengthen policy coherence and collaboration to implement the SDGs, and calls for regional cooperation to address shared challenges and achieve sustainable development.

Over 80 participants from governments, UN agencies, civil society, the private sector and academia attended the 2016 SPECA Economic Forum and the 11th session of the SPECA Governing Council, which convened from 22-23 November 2016, in Ganja, Azerbaijan. SPECA aims to enhance sub-regional cooperation to respond to economic development challenges facing its member countries: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) jointly provide support to SPECA.

In discussions at the Forum and Council session, participants highlighted that the region’s countries have made progress in integrating the SDGs into national development plans and strategies and establishing national coordination mechanisms. They underscored the importance of enhanced regional cooperation and economic integration for sustainable development and to revive and re-balance economic growth. SPECA Governing Council Chair Sahil Babayev, Azerbaijan, cited the need for multilateral economic cooperation and integration processes: “Regional and interregional cooperation is one of the key components of modern international economic relations, as well as an important factor on achieving prosperity, sustainable development and economic growth.”

The Ganja Declaration identifies SPECA as a key intergovernmental platform for cooperating to achieve SDGs and targets on water management, sustainable transport and trade, gender equality, innovation, statistical capacity for monitoring progress.

The Ganja Declaration identifies SPECA as a key intergovernmental platform for cooperating to achieve the SDGs, including Goals and targets on water management, sustainable transport and trade, gender equality, innovation, statistical capacity for monitoring progress. ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar observed that SPECA countries can benefit from regional cooperation in the areas of trade, connectivity, development of statistical capacities, and enhancing resilience to natural disasters.

The meeting reviewed progress of SPECA’s Thematic Working Groups on: water, energy and environment; sustainable transport, transit and connectivity; trade; statistics; knowledge-based development; and gender and economy. The meeting also discussed Central Asian countries’ common vulnerabilities, including climate impacts, rising inequalities and external economic shocks. [ESCAP Press Release] [UNECE Press Release] [UNECE SPECA Website] [Event Website] [Provisional Agenda]

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