Our Analytics 12 july — 14:25

How did Azerbaijan overtake its neighbours in UN Sustainable Development Goals Index? (Most topical)

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BY ELNUR MAMMADOV, ECONOMY SECTION

According to the UN Sustainability Report 2020, Azerbaijan ranked 54th in the Sustainable Development Goals Index among 166 countries. Thus, the country, in this indicator, left behind all its neighbours. To verify this, just look at the report, where Russia is assigned 57th, Georgia 58th, Iran 59th, Kazakhstan 65th, Turkey 70th, Armenia 75th and Turkmenistan 114th positions.

Azerbaijan is the leader of the South Caucasus in the UN Sustainable Development Goals Index (SDG) for 2020. How did the country manage to achieve such progress? Oddly enough, the UN at the same time praised those indicators, which the opposition forces most criticised the authorities for. These are good health and well-being, the eradication of poverty and hunger, clean water and sanitation, low-cost and clean energy, sustainable cities and towns, peace, justice and effective institutions. As a result, the country scored 72.6 points out of 100 possible in the Sustainable Development Goals Index (SDGs).

And in order to better understand how high the position is, we will slightly expand the scope of comparison. So, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the average figure is 70.9 points. According to the report, the poor have not been registered in Azerbaijan with a daily income of less than $3.2. And the Gini coefficient, which expresses the level of economic inequality of society, is 38.6 here and is one of the best in the world. It is emphasised that the growth of the positions of the countries of the South Caucasus in the ranking is restrained due to a number of factors in SDGs 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), which include the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

One recalls that recently the World Health Organisation evaluated the activity of Azerbaijan in combating the coronavirus pandemic. And today, the UN already assigns the country a very high position in the SDGs index. And this high assessment is not accidental: Baku continues to carry out social support programs for the poor, even in force majeure conditions of the coronavirus. Moreover, the implementation of social programs is under the control of President Ilham Aliyev, even on these difficult days of the pandemic, the state implements all its obligations. The state budget, the State Oil Fund are financing programs aimed at supporting the population, not to mention the economy. And above all, supporting those who suffered as a result of the pandemic.

Someone may have forgotten about the strategic road-map for the socio-economic development of key sectors of the country's economy with short-term (by 2020), medium-term (by 2025) and long-term target prospects (after 2025). Meanwhile, many of the goals of the road-map fit into the SDGs. The country was among the pioneers of the region who identified the steps necessary to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs. These achievements were noted earlier, after success in the ranking of ease of doing business.

Let us recall how in the World Bank's report 'Ease of Doing Business' at the end of 2018, Azerbaijan entered the top ten socio-economic reformers. In the same year, the first high-level forum on sustainable development was held in Baku. At the beginning of this year, a conference was held in Baku to form a new framework for cooperation between the UN and Azerbaijan. And in October it is planned to hold the second Baku Forum on Sustainable Development. Does all this not show how Azerbaijan consistently and purposefully moved step by step towards its present high position?

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