22 May 2015
It is an honour to join you today at the high-level plenary session of the Eighth Astana Economic Forum. I thank President Nazarbayev and the Government of Kazakhstan for the invitation to this important event.
Kazakhstan’s partnership with the UN has been growing steadily, thanks to the President’s leadership and commitment to strengthening our co-operation. Under President Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has made significant contributions to the mission of the United Nations—for example, as a leader in the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation movement, facilitating dialogues for peace and stabilization in the region and worldwide, and contributing to the formation of the new sustainable development agenda, which is due to be agreed in September in New York.
UNDP sees Kazakhstan as a champion of both the current global development agenda set out in the Millennium Development Goals and the new sustainable development agenda, especially in the areas of sustainability and resilience. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership on a range of strategic initiatives. These include, among others, the establishment of Kazakhstan’s national development co-operation agency, KazAID, and the Regional Hub of Civil Service in Astana. Together, we can show practical examples of how to make progress on the new global agenda in Kazakhstan, in the region, and around the world.
2015 – a “once-in-a-generation” year for development
This year, 2015, is a “once-in-a-generation” year for development, with four major global processes and summits related to development taking place. Their outcomes will set priorities for a generation.
The first of these events, the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, has already taken place in Sendai, Japan, in March of this year. UNDP’s tagline for that conference was that “if it’s not risk informed, it’s not sustainable development”. All too often, hard-won development gains can be destroyed by disasters, as we have seen with the recent earthquakes in Nepal and with Tropical Cyclone Pam in the South Pacific in early March.
The last of the four 2015 events will be the vital UN climate change conference in Paris in December (COP21). A new global agreement is due to be reached – and it must be reached if there is to be any credible chance of keeping the global temperature rise below the important threshold of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
In between Sendai and Paris are the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July, and the United Nations Special Summit on Sustainable Development in New York in September.
At the September Summit, UN Member States are due to agree on a successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As Member States negotiate the future agenda this year, they are firmly guided by the proposal of the Open Working Group, of which Kazakhstan was an active member. It sets out seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. At the heart of the new agenda will be the unfinished business of the MDGs, including the urgency of eradicating hunger and poverty, and the need to fight inequalities of all kinds.
The proposed new agenda includes goals and targets which relate to economic growth, jobs, infrastructure, energy, and enhancing capacities to trade and attract investment. But it is also recognized that growth should not come at the cost of destroying vital ecosystems – including that of our climate. The proposed SDGs have strong environmental content.
As well, the proposed new agenda declares that development requires peaceful and inclusive societies, justice for all, and effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. Building excellence in the civil service will be a critical component of this, and for making progress across all the SDGs. Kazakhstan is promoting action on five areas of institutional reform, including in the civil service, and I was pleased to speak at yesterday’s side event here on “Meritocracy and Professional Ethics as Key Factors of Civil Service Effectiveness”.
The post-2015 development agenda has large shoes to fill. Yet it is shaping up to be a bigger, bolder, and more transformational agenda than the MDGs were – and that is needed. It will be a universal, sustainable development agenda, requiring commitment from all countries, developed and developing, to build a better future.
The relevance of the SDGs to Kazakhstan
So what does this bold new agenda mean for Kazakhstan?
Kazakhstan has already been very involved in the shaping of the agenda, including through the organization of national consultations on the post-2015 agenda from October 2012 to March 2013. These brought together government, civil society, private sector, trade unions, academia, young people, local communities, and vulnerable groups.
Kazakhstan is a regional leader in designing and implementing national green economy strategies, and in creating new platforms for South-South Co-operation. Both will be of immense value to Kazakhstan and to other countries in making progress on the SDGs.
Building resilience to disasters and many other kinds of shocks – from financial crises to disease outbreaks – is at the heart of the new development agenda. Kazakhstan has an enormous opportunity to build resilience through its new Nurly Zhol economic policy, and the accompanying Infrastructure Development Plan unveiled by the President last year. These initiatives call for a massive investment of six trillion tenge in public infrastructure such as roads, transport and logistical hubs, and energy, housing, and social infrastructure.
I know that Kazakhstan will want to make these investments as green, safe, and disaster-proof as possible by employing the latest know-how and technologies. Investments now in critical areas such as resilient infrastructure and renewable energies will help minimize risk and future costs in the years to come.
UNDP’s role in supporting implementation of the new agenda
UNDP is committed to working with Kazakhstan and all other countries to meet the aspirations of the bold new sustainable development agenda. We are uniquely positioned to do so, given our mandate, our universal presence, our extensive knowledge network, and our role as co-ordinator of the UN development system. This enables us to contribute to the design and implementation of the kinds of integrated solutions so urgently needed for sustainable development.
Going forward, we will:
• work with countries to ‘land’ the new agenda so that it can be reflected in national development plans and policies. UNDP has extensive experience in doing this from the MDGs.
• support countries to accelerate progress on their development priorities. Here, we have experience from implementing the MDG Acceleration Framework which over five years has helped close to sixty countries to speed up progress on MDG achievement.
• make our core policy expertise on sustainable development, governance, and building resilience available to governments at all stages in the implementation process.
Tackling the huge challenges which our world faces – from extreme poverty and rising inequality within many countries to environmental degradation and conflict – is what the post-2015 agenda is all about. For the agenda to succeed, it must seize the imagination of peoples, governments, civil society, and business, and big partnerships must be built around its vision and goals.
Kazakhstan and the UN can and should work together to further citizens’ aspirations for peace, progress, prosperity, and justice, and to catalyze global action. The success of the post-2015 agenda will depend on the active involvement of all countries, and we know that the support of Kazakhstan as a strong multilateralist can be counted on.