Impressive economic and social development of the SPECA participating countries in the past two decades increased well-being of citizens and reduced level of poverty. These achievements are threatened by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which took significant numbers of lives, brought economies to a standstill, pushing many people back into poverty. Rapid resource-driven economic growth, has been generating dangerous levels of pollution, accelerating desertification and the loss of biodiversity. SPECA participating countries are also facing inflations, reduction of remittance income, and shipping and transport disruptions due to the recent geopolitical crises and sanctions.
ESCAP “Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2022: Widening disparities amid COVID-19” confirmed the progress of North and Central Asia on targets under: good health and well-being, industry, innovation and infrastructure, peace, justice, and strong institutions. However, it alerted the widening inequalities amid COVID-19. Progresses towards achieving clean water and sanitation, sustainable cities and communities, climate action are limited, or showing regressing trends. While renewable energy capacity has increased in the subregion, the share of renewable energy in the total energy supply remains low. The progress towards achieving on gender equality is slow and uneven across SPECA participating countries.
The 2022 SPECA Economic Forum will discuss and provide an integrated approach towards a greener, safer, and prosperous future of the subregion. It aims to facilitate cooperation among SPECA participating countries to build back better while getting back on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The Forum will discuss best practices and lessons learned to ensure economic security and resilience, structural economic transformation, sustainable energy transition, digital transformation while achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.
United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA)
The objectives of the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) are to facilitate economic cooperation in the SPECA region, integration of the SPECA participating countries into the world economy and to provide a platform for crossborder cooperation for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The SPECA participating countries are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) jointly provide overall support to the Programme.
The objectives of the 2022 SPECA Economic Forum are:
• To discuss potential opportunities for enhanced regional cooperation to support greener and safer future of SPECA participating countries.
• To encourage knowledge sharing, experiences and lessons learned among government officials of SPECA participating countries and relevant stakeholders with regard to policies, strategies, and initiatives to: (i) promote socioeconomic security and resilience, in line with the clarion call of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind, (ii) facilitate sustainable economic transformation and green transition, (iii) support sustainable energy transition, and (iv) advance digital transformation, leveraging digital opportunities.
• To enhance knowledge of policymakers of SPECA participating countries to accelerate women’s participation in all areas of socioeconomic activities.
• To enhance capacity of policymakers of the SPECA participating countries to align national development strategies with objectives of international agendas, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries.
The 2022 SPECA Economic Forum will discuss and identify the opportunities for regional cooperation to support a greener and safer future. It aims to support implementation of internationally agreed goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries.
The conclusions and recommendations emerging from the 2022 SPECA Economic Forum will feed into the outcome document “Almaty Declaration” which will be submitted for adoption to the 17 th session of the SPECA Governing Council.