25 years of the UN Special Program for the Economies of Central Asia: prospects for regional partnership in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) – On 1 December, a round table was held at International Institute for Central Asia (MICA) on the topic “25 years of the UN Special Program for the Economies of Central Asia: prospects for regional partnership in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The event was attended by representatives of the diplomatic missions of the countries of Central Asia and Azerbaijan, structural divisions of the UN (ECE, ESCAP, the office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan), as well as more than 10 representatives of the SPECA countries, including heads and experts of the Center for Strategic Studies (Tajikistan), NISI (Kyrgyzstan) and Club of Political Scientists “South Caucasus” (Azerbaijan).
From the Uzbek side, leaders and experts from MICA, CERR and IMRI participated in the event.
During the round table, the results of the Summit of Heads of States and Government of SPECA - the United Nations Special Program for the Economies of Central Asia, which was held in Baku on 24 November 2023, were discussed.
The round table participants focused on the initiatives and proposals put forward by the leader of Uzbekistan and other heads of states, emphasizing the parties’ desire to strengthen practical cooperation within the framework of SPECA at the multilateral level, as well as to increase multifaceted interaction.
During his speech, acting MICA Director Fanil Kadirov noted that the uniqueness of this platform, created by the participating countries together with the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, is that it is structurally focused on using the huge potential for increasing interconnectivity between Europe and Asia.
Fanil Kadirov emphasized that over the past 25 years, the total GDP of the SPECA states has increased 10 times, amounting to US$447 billion in 2022, mutual trade - 50 times, reaching US$52.5 billion in 2022.
“In this context, the platform of the UN Special Program becomes a popular and effective mechanism for regional partnership.”
According to the regional adviser, coordinator of SPECA at the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), M. Apostolov, the first SPECA summit at the level of heads of state in terms of content and issues discussed “determined the further vector of development of the program and prospects for joint cooperation.”
For his part, the head of the Political Scientists Club “South Caucasus” I. Velizade focused on the fact that the drivers of the development of SPECA are the participating countries themselves:
“This platform is not imposed on us from the outside, but is the result of our own proactive interaction and demonstrates interest in increasing cooperation on this platform.”
Advisor-envoy of the Kazakh Embassy J. Iskakov noted that Kazakhstan fully supports the initiative to create a working group on food security within the framework of SPECA and the idea of launching “express” corridors.
According to him, this initiative will contribute to the uninterrupted supply of agricultural products between the participating countries, increasing their exports to third countries and, in general, increasing regional mutual trade.
Economist of the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan Z. Jumayev noted that all seven proposals voiced by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev within the framework of the SPECA summit were clearly developed, interconnected and fully consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The round table also included an exchange of views in the areas of green economy, innovation, high technology, logistics, alternative energy, smart agriculture, creation of modern social infrastructure and other tasks to strengthen interconnectedness in the region.
At the end of the event, the round table participants came to a consensus on the need for further fruitful cooperation between think tanks in the region to conduct joint research in order to develop recommendations for realizing the economic potential of the SPECA member countries.