New UN-Azerbaijan cooperation framework a key milestone in the road to 2030
Op-ed by Ghulam M. Isaczai, UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan, on the new Cooperation Framework that the UN has signed with the Government of Azerbaijan.
The United Nations Country Team and the Government of Azerbaijan have recently signed a five-year partnership framework for sustainable development, the fifth since Azerbaijan joined the United Nations in 1992.
The new framework has been designed in a complex and unusual context, with the country facing the combined challenge of COVID19 pandemic and recovery from the recent conflict. It required a lengthy and inclusive process of consultation with the government, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders to establish areas for cooperation in the period 2021-2025.
These consultations showed that a move away from business-as-usual and toward transformational results is necessary for Azerbaijan to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. While Azerbaijanis have shown tremendous resilience at this critical juncture for the country, various sections of society were exposed to the threat of leaving employment, dropping out of school, and losing access to essential public and social services. The two crises have also increased pressure on natural resources and put to the test Azerbaijan’s important past efforts on climate action. The immense strain caused by these events has exacerbated the risk of violence against women and girls, including at home.
To overcome these challenges and to support Azerbaijan’s socio-economic priorities outlined under the new Vision 2030, the United Nations and the Government of Azerbaijan agreed on four main priorities for joint action: inclusive growth that reduces vulnerability and builds resilience; stronger institutions for better public and social services delivery; protecting the environment and addressing climate change; and achieving a gender-equitable society that empowers women and girls.
In the first priority area we will advance equitable opportunities for economic participation and the realization of the right to work. We will work with Azerbaijan to ensure that labour markets embrace business-driven innovation and make the most of the country’s strong human capital, especially among youth. By 2025 we will have created an environment in which the country’s economy is steered by innovators, vulnerability is reduced and livelihoods are protected. We will have developed joint actions with the government to ensure economic growth is sustainable, diversified and that it maintains the country on track for the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Priority area two aims to support the Government in building stronger institutions for public and social services delivery, with a focus on education, health, and access to information and justice. To do so, we will support frontline service delivery in a manner that allows vulnerable groups to access social protection and withstand the long-term socioeconomic effects of the recent crises. We will also invest in expanding knowledge of and access to the ICT infrastructure, promoting e-governance and ensuring that public and social services are available and accessible online.
Priority area three aims at achieving an environmentally conscious economic recovery. It recognizes that long-term recovery that can help the country attain the SDGs must ensure a balance between energy security and environmental protection. The UN will support the transition towards a circular economy, one that preserves and extends the useful lifetime of goods, utilizes waste streams as a source of secondary resources, and tracks and optimizes resource use.
Priority area four targets a gender-equitable society that empowers women and girls across political, economic and social spheres. Although a gender equality lens applies to all priority areas, the partnership suggests that concrete changes must be sought in policy and in practice to address the root causes of inequality and promote the full participation of women and girls in decisions affecting their lives. Further efforts will also be undertaken to ensure that women and girls, especially those in marginalized communities and those impacted by conflict, acquire new skills empowering them to aspire to leadership positions in the economic and political spheres.
While these are ambitious targets, accelerated actions and mobilization of resources at all levels of society are needed to meet the challenge set in the Decade of Action to deliver the Goals by 2030. This would mean meaningful changes in policies, budgets, institutions and regulatory frameworks of governments, cities and local authorities as well as action by people, including by youth, civil society, the media, the private sector and academia to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations.
We will continue to pursue a strategy that invests in people, in durable solutions, and in institutions that are responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable in society. Reflecting our joint commitment to the SDGs and to an agenda that is fundamentally grounded in developing human capital, leaving no one behind and pursuing a rights-based approach to development are key tenets of this Cooperation Framework.
The new framework will accompany Azerbaijan in its efforts to build back a stronger, more equitable and more prosperous society. The challenge of long-term recovery from the conflict and the pandemic is immense, but the seeds of success have been sown in this joint programming exercise.