Excellency Mr. Akan Rakhmetullin, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Ms. Gwi Yeop Son, DCO Regional Director,
Ms. Michaela Friberg-Storey, UN Resident Coordinator,
Heads of UN Agencies and colleagues,
I am delighted to be taking part in this UN Country Team Retreat.
We meet at a very challenging time: countries are grappling with shrinking economies; mounting debt; increasing inequalities and injustices; unabated degradation to the environment, natural ecosystems and biodiversity; rising geo-political divisions and growing regional instability. Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and actions to address climate change became stagnant or even regressed. International resources for recovery are completely insufficient.
As a member of the United Nations and one of the major regional players, Kazakhstan faces the same challenges.
We have a very important agenda today and the main question is what we need to do to support the government and people in a fast recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and overcoming the challenges.
Kazakhstan is home to ESCAP’s Subregional Office for North and Central Asia and has been a key strategic partner in promoting international and regional cooperation, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We work closely with Kazakhstan within the framework SPECA, the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries, and on the implementation of the Concept of Transition of the Republic of Kazakhstan to a Green Economy, to name a few activities. ESCAP also is providing substantive support to Kazakhstan in establishing the SPECA Secretariat and the Central Asian Digital Solutions Centre.
This year under the able chairmanship of Kazakhstan the 77th session of the Commission adopted a resolution on “Building back better from crises through regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific,” which provides us with concrete recommendations for a fast and efficient recovery and for the achievement of SDGs.
To better reflect country level SDG progress, the National SDG Tracker developed by ESCAP can be used with the support of RCOs and CTs to track and visualize advances by inserting national level data and targets.
This overview of SDG progress can be reflected in the annual updates of the Common Country Analysis and help inform the work of the United Nations system in the country.
To recover better, stronger and smarter, we need five strategic policy areas and related regional cooperation frameworks.
These strategic policy areas are aligned with the thematic areas of Kazakhstan’s UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2021-2025.
May I now elaborate further:
First, we need to put the social protection system at the centre of this recovery. Through provision of universal access to vaccination and strengthening healthcare systems, governments can restart their economies.
We need to build the resilience of education systems by incorporating digitalization while improving equity and inclusion in the delivery of public services for over 238 million people in North and Central Asia.
Second, let us continue to develop resilient supply chains, sustainable trade and investment, and trade digitization in the region. Trade facilitation initiatives could be anchored by the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific.
Third, we must redouble our efforts to build sustainable transport, energy and ICT connectivity. I recognize several important initiatives in advancing subregional connectivity, along with a focus on integrated, sustainable, climate and disaster-resilient infrastructure development.
Fourth, we need to create enabling environments for financing sustainable development through additional, creative resources. We are working on enhanced Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFF), financial inclusion and innovative financing tools such as thematic bonds to address post-COVID-19 financing needs.
Fifth, let us act now to safeguard environmental health and raise climate ambition. We need to embed long-term sustainability in COVID-19 policy response and incorporate environmental sustainability into business investment and national planning processes.
I would also like to highlight a few more important points for strengthening our collaboration within SPECA.
The process of revitalizing SPECA coincided with the overall reform of the UN Development System.
These movements can proceed in parallel, synergizing and complementing each other. I believe that this reform process will continue to advance with the support of RCOs and evolve into real transformation of SPECA to the benefit of all the people of Central Asia. ESCAP welcomes and supports Kazakhstan’s offer to host the SPECA Secretariat in Almaty as the first location for the Secretariat.
Repositioning of the UN development system requires from all of us close collaboration and coordination across all three levels: country, regional and global.
The recently updated Management and Accountability Framework (MAF) provides clear and unambiguous guidance for UN Country Teams, as well as for the regional and global levels.
ESCAP has been taking actions to strengthen our support to countries.
I would also like to assure all of you that ESCAP stands ready to provide the same support to the RCO and CT in Kazakhstan as well as other countries in Asia and the Pacific.
Thank you very much and I wish you a very successful Retreat.