As one of the rarest countries, Azerbaijan has achieved positive results in the successful implementation of the UN “Millennium Development Goals” under the supremacy of the great leader Heydar Aliyev from 2000 , and for its contribution to tolerance, to multiculturalism, to the stimulation and assurance of gender equality, to short-term poverty reduction, to maintaining people’s health, to raising the level of education of the population, environmental improvement, writes Mazahir Afandiyev (on the picture), member of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has achieved many MDGs, including halving extreme poverty and hunger (achieved in 2008), achieving universal primary education (achieved in 2008), eliminating disparities between gender in primary and secondary education and reducing the spread of some deaths. This is the main reason why the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and our country were awarded with the “South-South” award in 2015 due to policies aimed at achieving the MDGs successfully.
This award is considered one of the essential awards presented to countries that have made significant progress in achieving the MDGs.
In October 2016, the President of Azerbaijan signed a decree establishing the National Coordinating Council for Sustainable Development (NCCSD) chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister to also become an active participant in the 2030 Agenda. This marks an important step towards l integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the national development agenda in Azerbaijan. Policy documents and roadmaps have been developed within the NCCSD has already supported Azerbaijan’s development trajectory to support its ambitions towards the SDGs.
Following intensive consultations with various stakeholders inside and outside government, 17 SDGs, 88 targets and 119 indicators were identified as priorities for Azerbaijan. Particular attention is given to the ‘Leaving No One Behind’ commitment of the 2030 Agenda and the government will serve to improve the economic and social well-being of the country as a whole, including all who live in our country, in a spirit of strengthened global solidarity. with particular emphasis on meeting the needs of disadvantaged sections of society. Azerbaijan has already submitted 2 Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on the country’s Sustainable Development Goals to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA.
Azerbaijan is the first country in the region and the CIS to submit its third voluntary national review (VNR). The establishment of a fair, equitable and inclusive sustainable development model for all is one of the key priorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan, mentioned in the 3rd VNR. The National Coordinating Council for Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Economy lead the NVR process with the support of the UNDP country office through consultation with various stakeholders, including parliament, line ministries, public institutions, NGOs, the private sector and academic institutions.
Azerbaijan is entering a strategic phase of this new post-pandemic and post-conflict era which runs from 2021 to 2030. Recognizing the global trends and challenges, the Azerbaijani government defines the long-term development vector of the country and development paths through five corresponding national priorities (approved by presidential decree) for the following decade. These priorities were aligned with Azerbaijan’s commitments under the 2030 Agenda.
Despite the challenges in monitoring and measuring the success of the global goals, the reports introduced by countries allow the process of implementation to be monitored at the international level. The 2021 Sustainability Report, one of the most important reports for tracking implementation processes, is the seventh edition of an independent quantitative report on the progress of UN Member States towards the Sustainable Development Goals (ODD). The report for 2021 places particular emphasis on the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the decade of action for the SDGs.
Azerbaijan performed best among the Caspian Sea and South Caucasus countries assessed in the 2021 Sustainability Report, ranked 55th out of 165 countries with an overall index of 72.4 for the goals of sustainable development (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations. The country of 10 million people has demonstrated a strong commitment to the seventeen goals, given the global indicators described in the document. I would also like to mention that this index is around 70.9 among the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
In addition to major successes in implementing the SDGs around the world, the global crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, since the start of 2020, may undermine the global commitment to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The 2021 Sustainability Report clearly shows a unique pattern of interconnection between the SDGs that may be linked to the consequences of COVID-19. SDG4 (Quality Education) is the main goal, the success of which has declined in the world and in Azerbaijan as well.
Nevertheless, thanks to President Ilham Aliyev’s strategic vision of combating the coronavirus, Azerbaijan is on the right track and maintains the achievements of SDG 1 (No poverty) and SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation), also improving moderately against SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), SDG7 (Affordable and clean energy), SDG 13 (Climate action) and SDG 11 (Sustainable cities).
Furthermore, I would also like to note that Azerbaijan is the country in the South Caucasus most sensitive to the negative consequences of climate change in terms of the diversity and geographical location of its climatic zones. In this regard, the achievement of SDG13 (Climate Action), which is closely linked to all the other goals of the agenda, is an important goal for our country, and a failure here can hamper the achievement of the SDG6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and SDG15 (Life on Earth).
Unfortunately, the three decades of occupation of Armenia has caused significant damage to the ecosystem, wildlife and natural resources in and around the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The Armenians also resorted to large-scale acts of ecological terror in the areas they had to leave under the November trilateral peace agreement which stipulated the return of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Moreover, every year Armenia constantly pollutes the transboundary water resources with chemicals and biological substances. This, in turn, undermines the success of SDG6.
In 2006, United Nations General Assembly resolution A / RES / 60/285 on “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” also called for an assessment and action to address environmental degradation in the short and long term. long term of the region. In addition, in 2016, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted Resolution No. 2085 entitled “The inhabitants of the border regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water”, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces. of the region concerned and allowing access by engineers and hydrologists to carry out a detailed study on site. All these facts show the general damage to the environment of Azerbaijan as a result of the illegal occupation for years.
Nevertheless, 30 years of ecological terror ended with the liberation of the Azerbaijani village of Sugovushan, and work is underway to ensure ecological balance and create a sustainable and clean environment in the regions of Tartar, Goranboy and Yevlakh.
Following the victory of the victorious Azerbaijani army, 30 years of illegal occupation came to an end, thus, for the first time in years, our country made progress towards the goal of SDG16 (Peace, Justice and strong institutions).
I am convinced that as a result of the peace and stability to be established by our country in the South Caucasus, permanent cooperation (SDG17) will be established and the objectives common to the region will be successfully implemented.