UN forum seeks to support Central Asian economies rocked by continued pandemic and geopolitical crisis


Representatives from Central Asian countries are in Kazakhstan this week to discuss how to work closely together to grow their economies, which have been rocked by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical crisis, a sustainable and greener way while taking advantage of advances in technology.

The SPECA Economic Forum 2022 meets from November 16-17 in Almaty with high-level participants from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

SPECA is the acronym for the United Nations Special Program for the Economies of Central Asia, which aims to help landlocked developing countries integrate into the global economy and provides a platform for cross-border cooperation over a wide range of issues, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. SPECA is jointly supported by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

In her opening remarks, ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana said that the recent COVID-19 pandemic has reversed much of the progress made by SPECA countries “as it has crippled economies and plunged many people in poverty”. Geopolitical crises have also contributed to “high inflation, [a] drop in remittances as well as disruptions in shipping and transportation,” she added. “The adverse effects of climate change could also have long-term implications for development in Central Asia.”

Among the key issues of the Forum, which meets under the theme “A greener and safer future”, is to help countries transform their economic structure, switch to sustainable energy and adopt more digital technologies, while ensuring the full participation of women in society. .

“We see the SPECA program as a catalyst to boost regional cooperation,” said Alibek Kuantyrov, Minister of National Economy of Kazakhstan, during the opening session. “This meeting is being held at a time of economic uncertainty. The global pandemic and security shocks have transformed the world into a new reality. It is essential for the countries of our region to adjust their economic agenda in order to derive maximum benefit from it. Therefore, we must constantly realize the full potential of SPECA cooperation.

For her part, Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the UNECE, said: “The digitalization of international trade, transport and border-crossing operations is essential to enable Central Asian countries to reap the full benefits of their integration into European and Asian markets.

“UNECE projects on transparency and traceability of cotton supply chains, support for the implementation of the SPECA principles of sustainable trade and policy dialogues on the circular economy contribute to helping countries SPECA to move towards sustainable trade and a circular economy,” she added.

The Forum will be followed by the 17th session of the SPECA Governing Council. An “Almaty Declaration” should be adopted, containing many of the results and recommendations of the Forum.

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