Excellencies, Distinguished Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour to be joining you today in the First National Forum on Sustainable Development in Belarus. I would like to begin by thanking the Government of Belarus for their invitation to participate in this Forum.
I am here representing UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner who wishes you a successful forum. He also congratulates the Government of Belarus on its continuing regional leadership in promoting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Belarus has clearly embedded the SDGs culture into its own strategic planning as the Government ensures that the next National Sustainable Development Strategy is closely aligned with the SDGs and Belstat selects the national indicators for their monitoring.
While all the countries whose development aspirations are supported by our regional bureau are making progress on implementing Agenda 2030, few are doing so with the consistency and purpose that Belarus is showing. It is precisely from the regional context that I would like to briefly speak.
When the UN Member States signed off on the 2030 Agenda at the UN General Assembly in September 2015, they recognized the ambition it represented. Member states in general—and middle-income countries like Belarus in particular—therefore expected assistance from the UN in meeting these ambitions. In response to these expectations for support, UNDP took the lead in fashioning the SDG “Mainstreaming, Acceleration, and Policy Support”, the so called (MAPS) platforms.
Together with other member agencies of the UN Sustainable Group—as well as with representatives of the World Bank and other key partners—UNDP during 2016 through 2018 led MAPS missions that were tailored to the needs of 16 of the 18 countries supported by our regional bureau. Please allow me to briefly share with you some key elements that have emerged from this process.
The MAPS mission in Belarus completed its report in August 2018, presenting a Roadmap for SDG Implementation. Proposed focus areas included green economy transition; future generation orientation, digital transformation and gender equality. UNDP and other UN agencies are committed to operationalize the MAPS recommendations for SDG achievement at both national and local levels. Here UNDP is very well positioned to pilot a country support platform as suggested in the new UNDP Strategic Plan. UNDP already works in three interlinked pillars that promote Sustainable Development Goal acceleration: support the Government in mainstreaming the SDGs into the national development planning; assist in SDG monitoring and assessment; leverage capital through impact investing.
Led by the SDG Coordinator, the national SDG Management System consists of an SDG Council, a Parliamentary Group on SDGs and a Partnership Group for Sustainable Development. The National SDG Council aims to ensure cross-sectoral coordination and stakeholder involvement and is composed of national and regional government bodies. Representatives from NGOs, academia, businesses, and international organizations are also involved in SDG coordination via a Partnership Group for Sustainable Development. In addition, SDG Working Groups were formulated at the local level.
The challenges begin with SDG mainstreaming and “nationalization”. This is generally understood as aligning the SDGs with national policy frameworks vertically in other words at national and sub-national levels), horizontally (meaning across different ministries/sectors), as well as financially. Nationalization also implies assigning baseline and terminal values to relevant national development and SDG targets and especially indicators.
Belarus presents a tremendous opportunity for investors and businesses to support the new national development agenda by investing capital in ‘double bottom-line’ projects that demonstrate both social impact and profit. UNDP is already working with the businesses to unlock new revenue streams while bringing about positive social impact and generating a profit. We also want to lay the foundations for the development of an impact investment market here in Belarus.
Furthermore, many national development strategies that already exist in our region were designed prior to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, so they are yet to be nationalized fully. With an increasing share of global SDG indicators able to be easily monitored by national statistical offices, Belstat succeeded in developing and making the Belarus national SDG monitoring frameworks more fit for purpose.
So clearly, Belarus is a regional leader in this respect. In addition to Belstat’s early definition and monitoring of national SDG indicators, the Government has begun work on Belarus’s National Sustainable Development Strategy until 2035—with a focus on ensuring robust SDG compatibility. UNDP is pleased to have supported, and will continue to support this process.
Most countries in the Europe and Central Asia region have produced MAPS reports with clear recommendations for SDG acceleration. These reports point to a number of important conclusions:
First, political will is key if we want to change the facts on the ground. In Belarus, under the leadership of the National Coordinator, this political will and administrative direction is clearly evident. Now the task will be to ensure replicability and sustainability at the local level.
Second, it is noteworthy that across the region’s middle-income countries, a number of accelerators-in-common are apparent - green and inclusive growth, investment in social capital, governance, gender equality, and youth related issues emerge with ubiquity. In other words, many of the region’s countries face similar development challenges; and this is why Belarus’ regional leadership and associated initiatives have been so valuable.
Third, better analytical tools are needed to more closely link accelerator platforms to concrete policy and programming variables. UNDP is pleased to be leading the UN Sustainable Development System’s work in this area. Our SDG “complexity analysis” and related tools have been applied with UNDP support in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, for example. Such support could equally be rendered in other parts of the region as well.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Financing national SDG achievement has emerged as a major concern in virtually every country in the region. In response, UNDP has assembled national data bases identifying past sources of SDG finance for 16 of the region’s economies. We are also expanding IMF forecasts for economic growth and external balance to estimate future SDG finance trajectories. These projections indicate that the counties of the region can expect significant growth in SDG finance by 2030—both from abroad and domestically, from public and private sources. They also highlight the importance of consolidating results-based budgeting and other public finance management reforms. These are needed for many reasons, including clearly linking national budget flows to the financing of progress along individual SDG targets and indicators.
Belarus is one of the first countries for which this SDG finance analysis was piloted. Initial results were presented at the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus a few weeks ago. UNDP looks forward to continuing its support for Agenda 2030 implementation in this area and urges the government to strategically embed the cost of the SDGs implementation in its national budget while also encouraging wider private sector investment and expanded public private partnerships.
In conclusion, UNDP has been providing key support for national transitions to sustainable development in these and other areas, both in Belarus and in neighbouring countries. Together with our sister agencies in the UN Sustainable Development Group, as well as the World Bank and other international and national development partners, we are very much looking forward to continuing this cooperation.
Thank you very much.