Statement on ‘Opportunities presented by SDGs for Kazakhstan’ by UN Resident Coordinator in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr. Norimasa Shimomura at the Al-Farabi Kazakhstan National University
Assistant Secretary-General Mr. Draganov,
Honourable Rector of Al-Farabi KazNU,
Faculties and students,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am honoured to be here today with you to talk about Sustainable Development Goals and opportunities they present to Kazakhstan.
Last year we marked the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. While values and principles of the UN charter remain valid and even more relevant than they were 70 years ago, it is certain that the world today is quite different and much more complex with new and immense challenges for sustainable development. Climate change, financial and humanitarian crises and food, water and energy insecurity as well as natural disasters threaten human well-being and civilization in many parts of the world. Billions of people continue to live in poverty. Gender inequality and unemployment, especially among youth, continue to deprive the societies from realizing their full potential. There are issues with new global health threats. Violent extremism, terrorism and crises threaten to reverse much of the hard-won development gains from the past decades. The need to come up with new solutions to address these global challenges has become obvious.
It is in this context that in September 2015 the world leaders from 193 nations gathered at the UN Headquarters in New York to adopt the new United Nations post-2015 global development agenda. It introduced the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2016-2030 – consisting of 17 Goals – that aim to end extreme poverty, promote equity and opportunity for all, and protect the planet, in close partnership among the nations.
The SDGs build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Although progresses achieved on the MDGs has been uneven within and across countries, there has been significant progress on poverty reduction, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality, and improving maternal health. The ambitions of the SDGs go way beyond MDGs and aim to complete what MDGs could not fully achieve. Let me list three traits of SDGs that are somewhat in contrast to MDGs.
First, SDGs are much more collaborative. The MDGs were largely determined by developed countries as agenda for developing countries. SDGs are the result of over two years of intensive public consultation and engagement with civil society and other stakeholders around the world, which paid particular attention to the voices of the poorest and most vulnerable. Kazakhstan also undertook national consultations in 2014 with more than 2,000 participants from various groups of the society.
Second, SDGs is an Agenda of unprecedented scope and significance. They are universal goals accepted by all countries and applicable to all – both rich and poor, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities. They stand on the balance of the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, environmental and social.
Thirdly, the Agenda clearly defines the accountability of Member States. The Governments have the primary responsibility for follow-up and review, at the national, regional and global levels, in relation to the progress made in implementing the Goals and targets over the coming 15 years. This implies the need for monitoring and reporting capacities as well as ability to collectively finance actions necessary to achieve these Goals.
Over the past years, Kazakhstan made good progresses in implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), making the country well positioned to champion in achieving the SDGs. SDGs came into force on 1 January 2016 and here in Kazakhstan we have already started a dialogue on SDGs with the Government of Kazakhstan. But SDGs are not just a set of 17 Goals. Its great ambition and broad scope require a well throughout strategy to rollout, implement, monitor and report on the SDGs. Let me share with you the Seven Ideas that could be part of Kazakhstan’s SDG implementation strategy.
1. SDG implementation through existing national instruments
SDGs first need to be tailored to national development context. The good news is that there is no need to re-invent many wheels. Most SDGs can already be found in strategic development documents of Kazakhstan. For example, the broad scope of SDG 16 that promote access to justice and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions are captured well in the Five institutional reforms and 100 Concrete Steps initiated by the President. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now mapping SDGs against the national priorities and instruments to tailor SDGs into Kazakhkstan’s national context.
2. Flagship initiatives for intensive implementation of SDGs
Special efforts could be made to achieve some SDGs either to close the gap in areas of weaknesses or to excel in areas where Kazakhstan can lead the world. For example, SDG 10 on reducing inequality is an area covered less by the current national instruments, for which a flagship initiative could be developed. On the other hand, SDG 11 on sustainable cities is an area where Kazakhstan could lead the world through a flagship initiative that promote cities such as Astana and Almaty as model SDG cities.
3. Accelerated SDGs implementation through policy analysis/advice
There may be areas where mechanisms to achieve SDGs are not known to the country. In such cases, the UN agencies can work with interested partners such as Al Farabi KazNU to develop a series of analytical pieces on key policy reform areas. Topics could include promoting healthy lives and well-being, gender equality and inclusive economic growth, and public administration reforms and OECD standard. These pieces should provide useful policy advice based on international best practices and lessons learnt.
4. Localization of SDGs to sub-national levels
Just like SDGs need to be tailored to national context, they can be tailored further to local context at the Oblast and Rayon levels. This will count on the awareness and leadership of the local leaders, who may also identify local-level flagship initiatives to accelerate SDG implementation in their Oblasts and Rayons. UN’s ongoing and future community development programmes in East Kazakhstan, Kyzylorda, Mangystau and Aktobe could serve as excellent conduit of assistance related to SDGs.
5. SDGs campaign and awareness raising
The great ambition and broad scope of the SDGs make awareness-raising and advocacy to be an important undertaking in themselves, to mobilize the massive support we need to successfully achieve the SDGs. I speak here today with the hope that from today, you would become an important part of the Alliance for the SDGs. We need universities like KazNU to advocate for SDGs and offer analytical capacities. We need private sector to do its part, and media to speak in favour of SDGs.
6. Helping other countries to achieve SDGs
Kazakhstan – as upper middle-income country – is well-placed to share with other countries important lessons and models for poverty eradication, social protection and sustainable economic development. Kazakhstan has a number of instruments through which it can promote international dialogue on SDGs. For example, EXPO 2017, Astana Economic Forum, newly established KazAID agency, Regional Hub of Civil Service supported by UNDP and Regional Centre for Disaster Risk Reduction can be used to this effect.
7. SDG Monitoring and Reporting
SDGs in Kazakhstan will be implemented by various actors through numerous channels and means. Results must be monitored and achievements coherently assessed based on evidences. For this, monitoring framework needs to be developed, again by making best use of existing monitoring framework of various national instruments. Assistance may be needed to strengthen national statistical capacities. National SDGs reports could be produced regularly, as Kazakhstan’s contribution towards global SDG reporting process.
There is a reason why I am delivering my first lecture on SDGs to you. You are the future of Kazakhstan and you will be the main drivers of SDG implementation in Kazakhstan. Our future is in your hands.
Let me finish by quoting the UNGA resolution “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”: "We the Peoples" are the celebrated opening words of the UN Charter. It is "We the Peoples" who are embarking today on the road to 2030. Our journey will involve Governments as well as Parliaments, the UN system and other international institutions, local authorities, indigenous peoples, civil society, business and the private sector, the scientific and academic community – and all people. Millions have already engaged with, and will own, this Agenda. It is an Agenda of the people, by the people, and for the people – and this, we believe, will ensure its success. The future of humanity and of our planet lies in our hands. It lies also in the hands of today’s younger generation who will pass the torch to future generations. We have mapped the road to sustainable development; it will be for all of us to ensure that the journey is successful and its gains irreversible.