Partners discuss development challenges, opportunities in Central Asia

Sep 1, 2017

EU-UNDP initiative provides vocational training in sewing in Turkmenistan. Photo: UNDP Turkmenistan

Brussels—Representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Central Asia and the European Union (EU) discussed in Brussels the development challenges and opportunities, and their future collaboration in the region.

Having made considerable progress on multiple fronts since their independence in the 1990s, countries in Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan - are now facing complex challenges, from economic shocks to extreme weather events and lingering conflicts.

The Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet and leave no one behind by 2030, provide the framework to tackle these issues and ultimately improve the overall development in each country.

“Central Asian countries have embraced with enthusiasm the Sustainable Development Goals - from Kazakhstan’s Parliament adopting unanimously a declaration, Kyrgyzstan creating a national council, Tajikistan’s development strategy being aligned with the goals to Uzbekistan developing indicators to measure progress and Turkmenistan carrying out consultations on how to implement the SDGs”, said Rastislav Vrbensky, Deputy Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States. “These are important steps towards making the goals a reality in the region”.  

The discussions in Brussels concluded that:

  • Central Asian countries need to intensify their regional collaboration. It will help them to jointly manage the ecosystems on which their economies rely, prevent conflict over water and other natural resources, and share knowledge and information on how best to prepare for disasters. It may also strengthen their bargaining position in regional and global forums.
  • Governance reforms are key to providing better public services and having citizens – including young people and women – actively engaged in the development of their countries. Kazakhstan’s regional civil service hub, and Kyrgyzstan’s e-governance reforms, are models to emulate in that regard.
  • Unleash the full potential and creativity of young entrepreneurs and the private sector across the region. This can create jobs and skills that are fit for the modern age, and promote green technologies and the knowledge economy.

"The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development provides a new opportunity for strengthening the partnership and cooperation in Central Asia using the sustainable development goals based on national ownership, shared responsibility and accountability. It is important to mention in this respect that the SDGs are a crucial cross-cutting dimension of all our work to implement the EU Global Strategy and the New European Consensus on Development", said Peter Burian, European Union’s Special Representative for Central Asia.

UNDP and the EU have a long-standing collaboration with Central Asian countries, from helping to green Kazakhstan’s water sector, to bolstering border management between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

Contact information

In Brussels: Ludmila Tiganu, Communications Specialist,

In Istanbul: Nicolas Douillet, Communications Specialist, UNDP Europe & CIS,

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