Central Asian countries urged to scale-up cooperation on innovation to support 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Central Asian countries met this week to discuss how to scale-up collaboration across borders to share promising innovations to accelerate the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The 2017 Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) Economic Forum, focused on the theme ‘Innovation for the SDGs in the SPECA region’ and drew senior government representatives from across the region, as well as Asian and Eurasian organizations and institutions.

In his opening remarks - delivered on behalf Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) - Mr. Kaveh Zahedi, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP underscored that SPECA member States have achieved significant progress, but that a challenging journey lay ahead as they endeavored to fully implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Challenges posed by natural disasters as well as issues related to environment, energy, water and security are an integral part of the SDGs, and many require transboundary solutions. Regional cooperation could complement national mechanisms and bridge global goals to country-level commitments,” he explained.

Science, technology, and innovation (STI) are key to the realization of the SDGs. In 2013 the Asia-Pacific region as a whole accounted for 44 per cent of global research and development expenditure, but disparities continue to exist.

Central Asia has a rich history of innovation. However, today, half of SPECA member States rank in the bottom half of the Global Innovation Index with the other half not even registering. At the same time, examples exist across the region where countries were making impressive in-roads by leveraging innovative technology for economic development.

“Building on these encouraging foundations will require the scaling-up across borders of promising innovations and the sharing of effective polices. It is here where SPECA should play a leading role,” said Mr. Zahedi.

The SPECA Governing Council set in motion the process to develop a regional strategy on innovation in support of SDGs. The countries also agreed to continue to strengthen SPECA so that it fully serves as the mechanism for cooperation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.


The United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) was launched in 1998 to strengthen subregional cooperation in Central Asia and its integration into the world economy.

Supported by two United Nations General Assembly resolutions, the purpose of SPECA is to enhance sub-regional cooperation in order to meet the pressing economic development challenges of its members.

ESCAP provides countries with expertise in trade, infrastructure connectivity, data and statistics, disaster risk reduction and other areas to support SPECA participating countries in transforming their economies and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms. Katie Elles, Public Information Officer, Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section, ESCAP, M: (66) 9481 525 36 / E: [email protected]