Building upon the recent Innovation for Sustainable Development Review (I4SDR), UNECE and the Ministry of Innovative Development of Uzbekistan are discussing the implementation of the report recommendations and engaging in dialogue on sustainable innovation-led development this week in Geneva at the Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness and Public-Private Partnerships (CICPPP). On this occasion, the delegation from the Ministry held a virtual meeting with the Executive Secretary of UNECE, Ms Olga Algayerova, who was joined by Uzbekistan’s Deputy Minister of Innovative Development, Shahlo Turdikulova, to discuss future collaboration.
As Uzbekistan strives to move forward on its reform path while also building back stronger from the pandemic, innovation plays an imperative role. Recognising this momentum, Uzbekistan demonstrates a determined commitment to the implementation of the I4SDR recommendations for innovation-led sustainable development.
From Theory to Practice: Implementing I4SDR Recommendations
The I4SDR, one of UNECE’s flagship publications, guides countries in responding to innovation governance challenges by closely examining the scope and quality of the national innovation infrastructure, policies. The outcomes of I4SDR project and other UNECE initiatives will inform policy dialogue, reform processes, joint initiatives, donor-funded programming, investment, and shape targeted capacity-building support. Furthermore, the I4SDR serves to inform Uzbekistan’s new Innovation Strategy 2022–2030 and complements other international projects such as the UNESCO study Mapping Research and Innovation in the Republic of Uzbekistan and the World Bank’s project on Modernising Uzbekistan’s National Innovation System.
Capacity-building, currently in the planning stage, will further enable the country to translate the analysis of its innovation policy governance into action. Engaging in dialogue and gathering good policy practices through visits like this will play a crucial role in shaping these follow-up activities. Furthermore, meetings with focal external stakeholders, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization, during the visit will help guide Uzbekistan in this journey.
Finding Synergies: Combining UNECE Initiatives
UNECE’s support for Uzbekistan’s innovation-led sustainable development, digitalisation, and transition to a circular economy goes beyond the I4SDR. The review complements and builds on other publications and initiatives to utilise UNECE’s vast regional knowledge and expertise. These synergies across the different UNECE workstreams were also discussed by the delegation and the secretariat during the CICPP meeting and bilateral meetings.
The sub-regional support under the Innovation Strategy for Sustainable Development of the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) is one such long-standing initiative. Its Working Group on Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Development (WG on ITSD), a subsidiary body within the governing structure of SPECA which works directly on issues of innovation in regional transition economies, provided essential region-wide expertise and knowledge for the review. The delegation had a chance to discuss the SPECA strategy with the UNECE secretariat at the margins of the CICPPP meeting.
The I4SDR, however, also builds on the third Environmental Performance Review of Uzbekistan, which assesses the progress of Uzbekistan in reconciling environmental and economic targets and strategies to meet international environmental commitments providing recommendations for environmental management and performance. Innovation, especially in environment-related R&D and technologies, will be critical in addressing the country’s environmental challenges, such as reducing pollution and improving the efficiency of resource use to achieve sustainable development. These and other pertinent topics, including transition to the circular economy and green procurement, were discussed during the CICPPP meeting. The delegation thus had a chance to hear about instruments for fostering sustainable growth, learn about best international practices, and engage in dialogue on the topic.
Innovation can, of course, also be a powerful impetus in particular economic sectors. The increased use of innovative technologies, such as the use of Blockchain, the Internet of Things and DNA markers, provides ample opportunities for transparency, traceability and upgrading value chain activities in the cotton and textile industry, which generates 30 per cent of the country’s exports. Within the scope of the garment and footwear sector, the implementation of advanced technologies aims toward circular economy approaches, increased sustainable and social impacts, and minimized reputational or environmental risks. UNECE’s toolbox, “The Sustainability Pledge,” which is currently piloted with the International Finance Cooperation, Indorama and Uztextileprom, strives to support Uzbekistan’s cotton and textile industry to increase its competitiveness, create resource efficiency and integration into international markets. This was the focus of the joint conference that UNECE, Confederation of Employers, and Uztextileprom on decent work and traceability of sustainable and circular garment and footwear value chains, held on 25th March, as part of the 1st International Investment Forum of Uzbekistan. The successful initiative was also shared with the international stakeholders and experts during the CICPPP session as an example of employing innovation for sustainability.
The Journey Ahead
Capturing Uzbekistan’s momentum and creating a solid foundation for long-term sustainable growth is a crucial and pertinent task. Yet, the country’s resolve and commitment to innovation-led development, exemplified by the ministry’s fruitful visit to Geneva, is an encouraging sign. As the country takes concrete steps towards implementing the I4SDR recommendations, the future of innovation governance in Uzbekistan is promising.
The UNECE is glad to offer the Ministry of Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan support and expertise on this transformative journey building upon its vast expertise in a variety of relevant areas.