ASTANA, Kazakhstan: The Government of Kazakhstan has joined forces with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), supported by European Union (EU) funding, to launch a Regional Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Platform for Central Asia.
This strategic initiative aims to strengthen regional efforts toward achieving the SDGs, providing expert analyses and fostering collaboration between governments and civil society in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The platform will serve as a vital tool for monitoring progress in attaining and financing the SDGs, enabling countries to align their socio-economic policies accordingly. In Kazakhstan, a key focus of this collaboration is supporting the localization process in newly established regions, namely Abai, Ulytau, Zhetysu, and the Kyzylorda region. The program, implemented in partnership with the Institute of Economic Research of the Ministry of National Economy, seeks to create interdepartmental working groups under akimats, involving representatives from government bodies, NGOs, civil society, local businesses, academia, media, and other stakeholders.
Aisha Okusheva, Project Expert at the Institute of Economic Research, emphasized the significance of establishing regional institutional mechanisms for sustainable development. This involves upgrading the skills of local authorities in line with national SDG indicators. The first stage includes the creation of interdepartmental working groups and focuses on engaging various stakeholders through seminars and meetings in different regions.
One notable outcome of this collaboration is the “People’s participation budget,” a tool discussed during seminars to ensure inclusive decision-making processes. The focus group formats allowed representatives from local government bodies, condominium management, and public activists to discuss issues related to public participation, project awareness, and technical aspects of project proposal submissions. Positive changes, including increased awareness and higher participation levels, were observed.
The partnership between Kazakhstan and UNDP reflects a commitment to the core principle of the SDGs – “leaving no one behind.” By addressing barriers and prospects faced by youth in various regions, such as access to employment and education, the collaboration aims to cultivate inclusive decision-making processes at the regional level. The ongoing efforts include thorough investigations into the challenges faced by youth and fieldwork trips to inform and involve citizens in the SDGs. The Institute of Economic Research plans to continue its work on localizing the SDGs into regional strategic and program documents, emphasizing the importance of individual indicators at the local level. This collaborative approach underscores the dedication to achieving sustainable development goals and ensuring broad societal engagement in the process.