The nations of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – together with Afghanistan and Azerbaijan, are undergoing significant transformations as they advance in their implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, these countries are yet to fully harness integration in the sub-regional and broader Eurasian economies as a catalyst towards these objectives.
Taking action to accelerate progress, the countries – which all participate in the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) – are planning to raise their cooperation on connectivity through sustainable transport and trade facilitation, with assistance from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) by adopting several strategic documents at the annual SPECA events, held from 18 to 21 November 2019 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. All SPECA countries will thus harness opportunities from closer regional cooperation in trade and transport facilitation as a means to foster sustainable development.
To advance subregional implementation of the 2030 Agenda, SPECA participating countries have stepped up their efforts in the SPECA Working Groups to promote the region’s sustainable development. The deliverables from that process are two regional strategies (on innovation and on trade facilitation) to be submitted for adoption by the Governing Council on 21 November 2019.
The 2019 SPECA Economic Forum is expected to launch a new stage in development of the Programme, building on the results of the 2018 SPECA Evaluation Report that defines SPECA as a country-owned, service-oriented, flexible and strategic platform for policy coordination and cooperation. The activities of the Programme are conducive to dialogue, consolidation of positions, solving of common problems, elaboration of strategies, and sharing expertise.
The theme of this year’s Economic Forum reflects the wish of SPECA participating countries to improve connectivity through sustainable transport and trade facilitation in the region. With a view to strengthen even further the regional cooperation for achieving the SDGs, the SPECA participating countries have recognized that growth should be inclusive and sustainable.
With this objective in mind they plan to launch an initiative to reduce barriers to trade and transport, using UN legal norms, standards and best practice recommendations, to strengthen the regional market and cross-border supply chains to integrate the region with the economies of Europe and Asia. The Governing Council is also expected to take a decision on the establishment of a SPECA fund to support the Programme’s activities.