Countries participating in the United Nations Special Programme for Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) have recognized the need for a more integrated approach towards structural economic transformation in order to build back better while staying on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
High-level officials at the SPECA Economic Forum also called for strengthened regional cooperation in the areas of trade, transport, and digital connectivity through accession to and use of the United Nations legal norms, standards and best practice recommendations for sustainable transport and trade facilitation, as outlined in the Bishkek Declaration adopted on 19 November. The Forum discussed complementarities between the implementation of short- to medium-term measures to support socioeconomic recovery and responding to the call for action to accelerate implementation of relevant international agendas such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Vienna Programme of Action. The Forum identified potential opportunities for enhanced cooperation to support sustainable and inclusive socio-economic recovery efforts in the subregion.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on our economies, with a particularly strong impact on the poor and the most vulnerable “, said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova. “I strongly support the decisions of the Governing Council in recent years to turn SPECA into a platform for subregional cooperation to achieve the SDGs. UNECE stands ready, alongside ESCAP, to help with our numerous tools: conventions, standards and best practice recommendations, to recover from the crisis and get on track for the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. – including, crucially, by accelerating the shift to a circular economy, which is particularly important for the subregion.”
“Overcoming the developmental downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic provides SPECA member states with a unique opportunity to reorient their political priorities towards making their economies more resilient to future pandemics and crises. In this context, the use of regional cooperation, especially between SPECA member states and with neighboring countries, should be aimed at contributing to the achievement of the SDGs and other internationally agreed development goals”, declared UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms. Armida Salsiya Alishahbana.
Participants supported ongoing initiatives to strengthen the connectivity and resilience of transport systems, notably the establishment of dedicated services along the Euro-Asian transport corridors, using the UN conventions and agreements for transport infrastructure development and border crossing facilitation.
The benefits of using UN tools to digitalize information flows accompanying goods, in particular the implementation of eTIR International system and the digitalization of documents and data accompanying goods moved by various modes of transport using the UN/CEFACT standards, were stressed. The interoperability of UN standards and their status as international public good were further underlined.
Discussions on the macroeconomic impact of the COVID-19 crisis and financing measures available to respond to it pointed at the need to consolidate fiscal positions through improved governance, and attracting funding from the private sector, in addition to the support provided by International Financial Institutions and donors.
This year’s Forum demonstrated an excellent cooperation with the Resident Coordinator system in the subregion as a third UN pillar supporting the SPECA programme in addition to UNECE and ESCAP: UN Resident Coordinators from the SPECA countries chaired the six sessions of the Forum.
Uzbekistan confirmed its intention to host the SPECA Forum and Governing Council session in 2021, in collaboration with UNECE, marking its return to the SPECA programme and regional cooperation.
SPECA was launched in 1998 to strengthen subregional cooperation in Central Asia and its integration into the world economy. It also provides a platform for cross-border cooperation for the achievement of the SDGs. The countries of SPECA are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. ESCAP and UNECE jointly provide support to SPECA.
For more information: https://www.unescap.org/events/2020speca-ef