Uzbekistan: Sustainable Development Requires Continued Efforts
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In the context of globalization, climate change, economic instability and shortage of food resources, active interaction within the UN framework is becoming an important reference point for addressing the complex challenges of our time.
The upcoming 78th session of the UN General Assembly will launch a new phase in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and set targets for the period until 2030. In addition, it will identify concrete proposals and ideas for further sustainable interaction of all UN member states.
Uzbekistan with its strategic position in Central Asia pays great attention to the development of cooperation with the UN and other high profile international and regional organizations. The development of relations with international organizations plays an important role in the integration of our country into the world community.
In this direction, it is important to note that Uzbekistan’s ties with the UN and its specialized structures such as UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO, UNODC, UNAIDS, UN Women, UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, ILO and FAO have been strengthening year by year.
Thanks to the initiatives and proposals of the leader of Uzbekistan, the country’s cooperation with the UN has risen to a whole new level over the past five years.
In particular, the Head of State delivered a speech at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly held on September 19, 2017, the 75th jubilee session organized in the format of a videoconference, and the 76th session of the General Assembly. During these sessions, Uzbekistan’s initiatives aimed at strengthening international and regional security, further development of education, spirituality, ecology, tourism, protecting human rights and in other areas were expressed.
Uzbekistan’s efforts in recent years have been internationally recognized by the adoption of the following United Nations General Assembly resolutions
Enhancing Regional and International Cooperation for Peace, Stability and Sustainable Development in Central Asia;
Strengthen Connectivity Between Central and South Asia;
Education and Religious Tolerance;
Sustainable Tourism and Sustainable Development in Central Asia;
Declaration of the Aral Sea Region as a Zone of Ecological Innovations and Technologies;
On Strengthening the Role of Parliaments in Accelerating the Achievement of the SDGs.
It is important to mention that in 2015, the world community witnessed the embodiment of a new global sustainable development agenda. The 70th anniversary of the UN Summit in New York provided a platform for more than 150 states to join efforts to address global challenges such as poverty, economic instability and environmental crises.
At the heart of the new agenda were 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets covering economic, social and environmental aspects of development. Having supported this initiative, Uzbekistan is actively integrating the SDGs into the national development strategy.
The New Uzbekistan Development Strategy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals go hand in hand, emphasizing socio-economic development, environmental stability and improving the quality of life of citizens.
The principle "For the sake of human honor and dignity" is the basis of the reforms carried out in Uzbekistan. These reforms are aimed at creating an active civil society and guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of every person, consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 in our country will be carried out in accordance with the fundamental principle of the UN "Leave no one behind" to ensure the rights and legitimate interests of every person.
In this direction, it is important to emphasize the adopted National Human Rights Strategy of Uzbekistan. It provides for the implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Council and treaty committees. In adopting the national strategy, the views not only of expert circles but also of the general public and international organizations were taken into account.
Uzbekistan was the first Central Asian State to establish a system of national human rights institutions, which includes a parliamentary ombudsman, a children’s ombudsman, a business ombudsman and a national human rights center.
In today’s world, the role of parliaments in achieving the SDGs is of particular importance. The UN General Assembly emphasizes the need for active involvement of legislatures in monitoring and implementing the SDGs, stressing the importance of voluntary national reviews.
Special attention should be paid to the UN resolution "On Strengthening the Role of Parliaments in Accelerating the Achievement of the SDGs" adopted on December 14, 2022, initiated by our President at the 75th session of the General Assembly.
This document emphasizes the importance of the role of parliaments in renewing the commitment to unity, solidarity and multilateral cooperation for a sustainable and durable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The document was co-authored by 80 states from all continents of the world, as well as UN agencies and other international organizations. It is expected that this document will become a unique guide for parliamentarians, mobilizing their efforts to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs.
Special attention is given to gender equality, which should be at the heart of efforts to accelerate progress towards the SDGs. This, in turn, will facilitate women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in legislative bodies and parliamentary processes.
In recent years, Uzbekistan has adopted more than 40 legislative acts and important conceptual documents related to gender equality, in particular the Law "On the Guarantee of Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men," the Law "On the Protection of Women from Harassment and Violence," and the Law "On Amendments and Additions to Article 15 of the Family Code."
Of particular importance in this area are the specific measures taken to ensure gender equality, in particular, the adoption of the National Program to Increase the Activity of Women in All Spheres of Economic, Political and Social Life for 2022-2026 and the Strategy for Achieving Gender Equality in the Republic of Uzbekistan by 2030.
As a result, today the share of women employed in health care and education is 77 %, in economy and industry 46 %, and about 2,000 compatriots work in leading positions in state and public organizations.
Opportunities for women’s education have been expanded over 6 years, with the number of women enrolled in higher education institutions increasing 6-fold.
The important role and contribution of young people to the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda is recognized, as is the need to ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of young people in parliamentary processes.
In this direction, Uzbekistan is implementing the Concept for the Development of State Youth Policy until 2025, which is based on the principle of "working with youth in the interests of youth" set out in the UN Youth 2030 Strategy.
It should be emphasized that the Youth Parliament under the Senate was established in 2020, which consists of 100 members of young activists. The purpose of the Youth Parliament is to increase political and legal awareness and literacy of young people, social activity, protection of their rights and legitimate interests.
In turn, it is important to emphasize that over the past three years, 250 thousand young people have been allocated the equivalent of more than 500 million dollars in soft loans. 210 youth industrial and entrepreneurial zones have been created in the country and 2.5 thousand investment projects worth more than 300 million US dollars have been realized. As a result, the number of young entrepreneurs has doubled and exceeded 200 thousand.
Within the framework of sustainable development, our country is actively involved in providing quality education and access to it, seeking to create the basis for long-term social and economic growth. Education is seen not just as a tool for transferring knowledge, but also as a mechanism for building skills that meet the requirements of the modern labor market.
As a result of the reforms adopted over the past 5 years, the number of higher education institutions in the country has almost tripled to 210, and the coverage of higher education has increased from 9% to 38%, which opens up wide opportunities for young people to master modern knowledge and professions.
Over these years, the number of teaching staff in higher education institutions increased 1.6 times, the share of higher education in the total volume of educational services increased to 51%, the number of foreign students studying in higher education institutions of Uzbekistan increased 4 times and amounted to 5.1 thousand people, the volume of expenditures on research and development in higher education institutions increased 1.3 times, the number of general education institutions at the beginning of 2023 reached 10.6 thousand.
Particular attention is paid to improving the working conditions of teachers and tutors, improving their qualifications. In particular, teachers’ salaries have increased 2.5 times on average over the past period.
Uzbekistan is also actively working to develop human potential and improve the quality of life of the population. Large-scale programs are being implemented to improve health care, ensure access to quality medical care and reduce maternal and newborn mortality. Uzbekistan was also working to reduce health inequalities and ensure access to healthy food and water.
In 2022, more than 20 laws, decrees and resolutions and other necessary regulations related to health care were adopted and are being consistently implemented.
In particular, in 2022 alone, more than 100 family doctor’s offices, polyclinics and more than a thousand district health centers were established in the most remote and hard-to-reach areas. As a result, an additional 3.5 million people have been covered by primary health care.
The amount of funds for 70 types of medicines, given free of charge to the population by family physicians, has increased threefold compared to the previous year.
Today, socio-economic reforms and programs aimed at stimulating entrepreneurship, improving the business climate and creating new jobs are being actively adopted. Measures have also been taken to combat poverty and social exclusion, providing support to the most vulnerable segments of the population.
In the last 6 years, the scale of social assistance has increased fivefold and covered more than two million families. If in 2016 the budget allocated $181 million for these purposes, today the amount has been increased to $1.5 billion.
So far, certain results have been achieved. In 2022, one million residents are removed from the poverty line. This number is expected to increase significantly this year.
The environmental component of sustainable development is also not neglected. Uzbekistan is taking an active part in the international fight against climate change and implementation of programs to improve the state of natural ecosystems, as well as striving for sustainable modernization of energy, transport, agriculture and other sectors in order to reduce pollutant emissions and improve energy efficiency.
As a result, in accordance with the initiative of the Head of State, saxovul and other desert plants have been planted on an area of 1.732 million hectares in 2019-2022, and the area of green areas has been increased by 2 million hectares.
It is determined that works in this direction will be systematically carried out in the following years. In particular, in 2023-2026 it is planned to create "green covers" on the area of 400 thousand hectares on the dried up bottom of the Aral Sea. This is, undoubtedly, a significant contribution to solving the consequences of the ecological catastrophe, which goes far beyond the regional scale.
At the moment, one of the large-scale and effective initiatives of the Head of Uzbekistan is the national project "Yashil Makon" (Green Space), launched in 2021.
With the start of this important work, 85 million seedlings were planted in the fall season of 2021, and 126 million seedlings were planted in the spring season of 2022.
This initiative aims to prevent the negative effects of climate change by increasing green spaces in our country, planting tree seedlings and their effective maintenance.
This nationwide project plans to plant more than 200 million tree and shrub seedlings per year. As a result of this program, 1 billion trees and shrubs will be planted in the next five years.
It is important to emphasize that Uzbekistan’s successes in the field of sustainable development have become possible thanks to the decisive actions of the Head of State Shavkat Mirziyoyev, nationwide support of his programs and initiatives for the development of the state and their endorsement by international partners.
The adopted reforms aimed at sustainable development have allowed Uzbekistan to rise eight positions in the UN SDG index, which testifies to the significant successes and changes taking place in the country, and this confirms the correctness of the chosen course on sustainable development.
All initiatives presented by Uzbekistan within the UN framework have made a significant practical contribution to maintaining world peace, stability, protecting human rights and ensuring sustainable development. Our country adheres to the principle of further expansion and deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation with the UN and its specialized agencies.
The example of Uzbekistan shows that sustainable development is a process that requires constant efforts and harmonious interaction between all spheres of society.
Given the above, Uzbekistan deservedly attracts the attention of the international community with its achievements in the field of sustainable development. This experience is not only a valuable lesson for other countries, but also an inspiration for creating a more equitable and prosperous future for the next generations.
Leading Researcher at
the International Institute of Central Asia