UN Expert Team Analyses Sustainable Development in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan has made good initial progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, according to a team of United Nations experts visiting Baku this week.

The mission team, composed of experts from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), found that—despite the country’s current economic challenges—good progress has been made in reducing poverty and expanding public and social services. The team called attention to the need to reach out to particularly vulnerable population groups, as well as step up investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

Together with other UN Member States, Azerbaijan signed off on the 2015-2030 global sustainable development agenda at the September 2015 Sustainable Development Summit in New York. This summit also approved the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are now being used to measure progress in rich and poor countries alike in reducing poverty and inequalities while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in the preservation of the planet’s ecosystems.

To help countries implement this agenda, the UN is fielding expert missions that focus on aligning national development policies with the SDGs, as well as accelerating progress towards sustainable development. Azerbaijan is one of the first countries in the world to host such a mission.

“The fact that Azerbaijan is one of the first countries to field such a mission is a very heartening indicator of the Government’s commitment to the global development agenda”, according to Ghulam Isaczai, UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan. “It also shows Azerbaijan’s leadership in putting the principles of sustainable development into practice”.

“Azerbaijan has made excellent progress in reducing poverty and social exclusion—particularly during the oil boom”, Ben Slay, senior advisor to UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and CIS and the mission team leader pointed  out. “The challenge is how to continue this progress during times of low oil prices, by creating more decent jobs while investing in—rather than depleting—the country’s natural capital. Increased investments in wind and solar power technologies, as well as in energy efficiency, can extend Azerbaijan’s oil exports abroad while also creating green jobs at home.”

During its week-long mission, the UN expert team held meetings with government officials as well as representatives of Azerbaijani civil society and leading think tanks. A report of the mission’s findings is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

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