Transitioning towards a knowledge-based economy away from a resource-intensive model of economic growth is central for sustainable development among the seven countries of the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) - Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The imperative of such transition has become even more acute in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit the region, with its limited fiscal space and strong dependency on resource exports and remittances, severely. Innovation, or trying out ideas to see what works and what does not, and in many ways doing more with less, has to drive the resilient, sustainable and inclusive COVID-19 recovery for economies and societies across Central Asia.
SPECA countries have put innovation high on their policy agendas and joined efforts in driving knowledge-based development across the sub-region through the adoption in 2019 of the SPECA Innovation Strategy for Sustainable Development. To follow through with this commitment and to put the strategy into practice, SPECA countries gathered for a virtual session of the SPECA Working Group on Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Development (WG on ITSD) to discuss and endorse the draft Action Plan of the SPECA Innovation Strategy for Sustainable Development. The WG on ITSD was chaired by Kyrgyzstan alongside a sub-regional webinar organised by UNECE and UN ESCAP to serve as a platform for policy dialogue on technological transformation and technological upgrading and eResilience, given the increased importance of digitalisation for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The discussions also covered efforts to boost the creative economy and support the transition to a circular economy, new approaches to innovation policy for economic transition, and recent UNECE work on business incubators in the SPECA countries and the Innovation for Sustainable Development Review of Uzbekistan. Participants also welcomed plans to roll out recent UNECE work on innovative high-growth enterprises and innovation policy benchmarking to the SPECA countries.
More information and key documents of the session may be viewed at: