In this July, in New York, Turkmenistan will present the world community Voluntary National Review on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
ORIENT talked to Nurjemal Jalilova, Programme Manager for Governance, Economic Development and Social Policy, UNDP Turkmenistan Office, who shared about report preparation process, and answered questions about the SDGs.
– Good day, Nurgemal! Would you, please, explain to our readers as popularly as you can what are the Sustainable Development Goals?
– The Sustainable Development Goals are part of 2030 Agenda for Global Sustainable Development, adopted by all UN member states. For the first time, countries have unanimously agreed to take joint actions that are of great importance to humanity and the planet. In this regard, the United Nations General Assembly set a collection of 17 global goals on sustainable development and 169 targets.
The SDGs cover social and economic development issues including poverty, hunger, health, education, global warming, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment and social justice. This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet, prosperity, peace and security, as well as partnership.
The first group includes goals related to people and their empowerment. The second group includes issues on environment, climate change, planet protection to support the needs of the present and future generations, the third is to ensure well-being, and prosperity, so the economic and technological progress can continue in harmony with nature and the fourth is to build a peaceful and just society.
The last group issues cover the objectives of the global partnership. It is important to understand that to achieve the SDGs, it is necessary to work close with different countries, international organizations, and to involve all members of society.
– In addition to 17 Goals and 169 tasks, there are over two hundred indicators. Would you, please, tell us more about these indicators?
– Each target has between 1 and 3 indicators used to measure progress toward reaching the target goals.
For example, by 2030, the country sets a goal to increase the incomes of the population several times according to Goal No. 10. How to measure this target? For this, there are special indicators. In this case, an indicator of growth rate of household expenditures or income per capita may be used.
There are there are 232 approved indicators at the global level that will measure compliance. Based on these indicators, each country selects its own set of indicators to measure progress toward reaching the SDGs goals. Both national statistical agencies and international organizations are involved in the development of global SDG indicators.
– What is the mechanism to achieve the SDGs in Turkmenistan?
– Since the adoption of the Goals in 2015, Turkmenistan immediately began the process of their nationalization. The goals of sustainable development are global. However, by accepting the SDGs, each country engages to include them into their national programs. Each country decides which goals and tasks to be in priority to realise.
During 2016, we did a great job on of priority goals and tasks in the field of sustainable development. During meetings with representatives of various departments and public organizations, we reviewed each goal and all relevant tasks.
As a result, Turkmenistan was one of the first to adopt all 17 goals and 148 tasks. At that time, there were about two hundred indicators. But their number changed from time-to-time due to changes at the global level. Therefore, it can be said that, as of today, Turkmenistan has adopted 175 indicators for monitoring of SDGs.
United Nations agencies and a number of ministries and government institutions of Turkmenistan have established a mechanism for monitoring and assessment of the implementation of SDGs. In 2017, a working group to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, which included representatives from various ministries and departments, Parliament, as well as public organizations and private sector, was established. The Ministry of Economy and Development of Turkmenistan is in charge for monitoring and national reporting on the implementation of SDGs in Turkmenistan. The mechanism also foresees creating the database administered by the State Statistics Committee for centralized data collection on SDGs.
In addition, to attract various international organizations, UNDP, together with the Ministry of Finance, has created a platform for achieving the SDGs. What is it for? It is needed to address such strategic issues as implementation of the SDGs in national and sectoral programs, as well as their financing and monitoring. At the initial stage, this platform is funded by the Government of Turkmenistan and UNDP, but it is expected that the platform will grow and attract more participants and resources.
– You have touched on a topic of financing the SDGs. Would you, please, tell us more about it?
– Financing of the SDGs is one of the most important issues, as huge funds are required to achieve the goals. The question is: where to find these resources and how to do it? In this regard, even before the SDGs, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing Sustainable Development, which is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, was adopted.
Last June, as part of a project with the State Bank for Foreign Economic Activity of Turkmenistan, UNDP hold an international conference “Partnership for financing development in the heart of the Great Silk Road’, which was attended by more than 200 partners from interested ministries and departments, international financial institutions, private enterprises and commercial banks that are potential investors in Turkmenistan, as well as development experts from UNDP and other international organizations.
In particular, possible methods and sources of financing were discussed. The first financial resource is public finance, the second is private (domestic and foreign) investments, the third is international finance, that is, international organizations and financial institutions, such as the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank, and the last financial resources are innovative financing methods. It is clear that traditional methods are not enough to finance the SDGs. While the global economy is not short of resources, countries need partnerships and some creative ideas related to financing for development, for example, the use of blockchains, social bonds, crypto currencies and others.
It should be noted that the issue of financing the SDGs is also one of the components of the platform with the Ministry of Finance, within which it is planned to hold events dedicated to the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for financing sustainable development.
– As of today, what the goals have been achieved by Turkmenistan?
– Turkmenistan has great potential for achieving sustainable development. Only three years have passed since January 1, 2016, when the Sustainable Development Goals officially came into force, and all countries are now at the stage of their nationalization and the development of monitoring systems.
Turkmenistan is preparing its first Voluntary National Review to show the implementation of the SDGs as of today. Currently, as we know, a lot of work is underway to prepare this report, which began last year and which should be completed in this July. Then Turkmenistan will submit its first Voluntary National Review at the High-Level Political Forum in New York.
– In your opinion, which goals are difficult to achieve?
– The SDGs is very complicated itself. It is a kind of the maximum program that countries should achieve by 2030. However, each country should determine whether it can reach the plan targets, or whether the target should be lowered.
Having a huge potential, Turkmenistan has adopted all 17 goals and most of the tasks. Some of them, taking into account national features, were revised, while a few was not adopted – for example, ocean concerning issues, since the country has no access to ocean water.
Now we are talking about how fast we can reach the plan targets, and what prevents us from doing it. The main difficulty may arise in involving the whole society and each person to achieve the SDGs. The principle of ensuring the participation of various stakeholders, contributing to the overall aim of leaving no one behind, is the most necessary and difficult in the process of implementing the SDGs.
– At what preparation stage the voluntary national report?
– First of all, let me explain the reporting of the SDGs. There are several levels. Firstly, each country establishes its own monitoring system and prepares its own national report. It is the national level of reporting.
Another level is a regional reporting. For this purpose, regional forums, where countries from one region submit reports on the achievement of the SDGs, share experiences and discuss the mechanisms on the implementation, are organized.
There is a global platform – the High-Level Political Forum, where countries present their progress in achieving the SDGs. This whole system is voluntary. When countries accepted the SDGs, they did it voluntarily, therefore reporting is voluntary and presented at the initiative of the countries themselves.
The UN recommends that each country submit its report to the Political Forum at least twice before the end of 2030.
Each year has its own topic. The theme of this year’s 2019 High Level Political Forum is “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” – a theme that perfectly illustrates the interrelatedness of human rights and development. This mutually reinforcing relationship of human rights to sustainable development is also evident in the specific SDGs – especially Goal 10, on Reduced inequalities, and Goal 16 on Peace, justice and strong institutions, but also in relation to Goal 4, on Quality education; Goal 8, on Decent work and economic growth; Goal 13, on Climate action; and Goal 17, Partnerships for the achievement of the SDGs. This year, 51 countries will submit their voluntary national review. As far as I know, from Central Asia region, there will be Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
Last December, we visited Kazakhstan, where we discussed how UNDP could support to implement the SDGs and prepare a country report. There, the process of nationalization began last year only, under which a national council headed by the deputy prime minister, was established, as well as a platform for the implementation of the SDGs was created.
As to the national voluntary review of Turkmenistan, the Ministry of Finance is currently working with relevant branch ministries and departments to collect information. After that, all data will be summed up and the report will be prepared. Its first draft is planned to be prepared by the end of February, its key messages will be posted on the UN website. In June, the report should be submitted, and, in July, the review should be presented at the High-Level Political Forum.
I hope that we will complete this work according to our plan and we will be proud to represent Turkmenistan on the international platform. UNDP provides every support in this matter.
– Can we call the example of Turkmenistan to achieve the SDGs as unique?
– Turkmenistan has a great potential to achieve the SDGs not only at the national level, but also in terms of assistance to neighboring countries.
For example, the TAPI project may be the unique and strategic project that will contribute to strengthening energy security and economic stability and will become a powerful basis for achievement of sustainable development goals of the entire region. Its construction will bring peace and prosperity to the region, people will have heat, electricity and hot food.