Helena Fraser: Statement for the Roundtable Discussion on Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in Central Asia

Aug 31, 2017

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for this excellent opportunity to be in Brussels to talk about sustainable development in the Central Asian region, and in particular in Uzbekistan.

His Excellency the Ambassador has outlined clearly the commitment with which the Government of Uzbekistan has embraced the Sustainable Development Agenda, so I won’t go through that again. I will give you a quick snapshot of where we see we are now, and then I will make three important points.

In addition to the Action Strategy, which is an incredibly ambitious strategy under the Sustainable Development Agenda, we have also work been working with the Government on a Roadmap for furthering UN and Government of Uzbekistan cooperation for sustainable development. The Roadmap is an incredibly practical tool with accountabilities both on the Government side and the UN side, and we see this as an important next step in taking the Action Strategy down to the practical, operational level.

Contemporaneously, we also have the draft Government Resolution on the 16 national sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 123 national targets. These two processes hopefully will dovetail in the next few weeks in terms of the adoption of the Resolution and finalization of the Roadmap. This sets us up in a really good way to take us forward to acceleration and implementation. The ownership is there, the context is there.

So what are my three points.

The first is the importance of integrating these ambitious goals and targets, and the Roadmap as well, into State and National sectoral programmes. We will be working closely with a wide range of ministries and agencies of the government to really try to embed all the targets and commitments that have been made into the State programmes and therefore the budget. That’s a critical point and a point where we need to engage with the donor because community in a structured way to support the financing, in complement to the Government’s financing. Focusing also on where to accelerate: that’s a conversation that we are beginning to have. The ‘mainstreaming, acceleration and policy support’ (MAPs) process has not happened in Uzbekistan yet, but it’s a conversation we are beginning to have on how best to be focused and targeted to ensure that we accelerate implementation of the SDGs in a structured way.

The second point that has been made by many before is on regional cooperation. Uzbekistan has made a range of very important steps, as the Ambassador has pointed out, and it has also signaled strongly to the UN family in Uzbekistan that there are several areas where we will not make progress on sustainable development unless we do so in a multilateral way across borders. These areas include economic diversification, cooperation and trade, climate change and disaster risk reduction (DRR), management of natural resources, and security cooperation, including violent extremism and trafficking. So, this also provides an opening to work beyond the traditional UN country team framework and into a more structured framework with our colleagues at the regional level and with the neighboring countries. The government is championing that process and we are definitely there to provide support.

This brings me to my last point, which is that this is a time of great ambition and change. The Government’s agenda is extremely compelling. It is also extremely ambitious. There is a need, in my view, for some really catalytic support, pragmatic support, and again this is where I appeal to the EU. We need to have a more coordinated approach across all the development partners working in support of the Government, under the Government’s leadership, to achieve this hugely ambitious agenda and support the Government with its prioritization.

This includes creative approaches, new partnerships, private sector, bilateral, multilateral, civil society, and it also includes focusing on how to link into those partnerships the sub-regional approaches. So I really call for pragmatism, focus and also trying to ensure catalytic support to the Government’s agenda.

Let me close by saying that this is a very exciting time and I am very happy to be in Tashkent at the moment. I look forward to working with the Government, the EU, with the EU member states, but also with the neighboring countries and the neighboring UN country teams to take this forward.

And finally, let me congratulate Kyrgyzstan today, and Uzbekistan tomorrow, on the occasion of their Independence.

Thank you very much.