The Road to 2030: Turkmenistan ups its action to make the global goals a reality
18 September 2023
18 September 2023
Billed as ‘the beginning of a new phase for accelerated progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’, countries around the world are looking to this week’s SDG Summit with a sense of urgency, ambition and hope for the future.
In Turkmenistan, where I serve as the Head of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, the Summit represents a rallying point in its sustainable development journey, an important opportunity to elevate its own national commitments to achieve the SDGs.
Supporting the Government of Turkmenistan prepare for this critical ‘half-way’ moment towards 2030 has been a key priority of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and UN country team.
Here’s how we worked with partners to ramp up Turkmenistan’s commitments for people and planet.
Despite the upheavals of the past few years, including the COVID-19 pandemic and global cost of living crisis, Turkmenistan has made important strides across a number of SDGs. Yet progress has not been even. Identifying where the biggest gaps in SDG implementation lie and understanding obstacles to further progress was an essential first step.
To this end, our UN team have supported Turkmenistan prepare and present its Voluntary National Review (VNR) to Member States at the UN High-level Political Forum in July.
With the guidance of our office, the Government thoroughly analyzed its sustainable development progress, engaged various stakeholders through consultations and collect data for a comprehensive assessment of its efforts across 11 out of 17 Global Goals. The National SDG Working Group published a midterm review, helping map progress on key indicators and identifying remaining data gaps, with UN support. This review also allowed our team to start planning how to collect and measure the indicators for which data was missing.
The VNR showed, for instance, that much progress in improving living standards, expanding social protection and boosting productive employment had been made, including a 33 % increase in household income between 2019-2022.
Galvanizing collective action
Making the SDG Summit a success at a country level, means mobilizing national partners around a clear set of priorities and streamlining visions and expectations. In Turkmenistan, our UN team engaged with the Government at the highest levels to ensure there would be concrete commitments for the SDGs over the next seven years.
One of the commitments the Government is set to announce is Turkmenistan’s accession to the Global Methane Pledge –which catalyses action to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030, and represents an essential step to keeping the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 C alive. This became possible thanks to intensive advocacy by our office together with UNEP International Methane Observatory and other partners over the last 18 months, and has been accompanied by the Government’s recent approval of the Roadmap for 2023-2024 aimed at creating conditions conducive for methane reduction.
Our collaboration with partners at the country level around these advocacy efforts was informed by the VNR report, and by the major transition areas called for by the UN Secretary-General that can have a multiplier effect on accelerating progress towards all SDGs (including climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution; food systems; energy access and affordability; jobs and social protection; education; and digital connectivity.)
To support the Government prepare their National Commitments for the Summit and make policy choices with the biggest multiplier effect on the SDGs, we advocated for Turkmenistan to be included as pilot country in UNDP’s new SDG Push Diagnostic tool.
By translating data from multiple sources, the tool helps map national priorities against current SDG trends and highlights the different interlinkages between the goals and most effective policy pathways going forward.
The analysis showed that SDG 2 in particular – the goal end hunger was one of the areas which would benefit the most from the adoption of more integrated development policies. For example, the tool projected that if Turkmenistan continued ‘business as usual’, 24, 000 people across the country would be classified as malnourish by 2050. With more holistic policy pathways however, the number of people in this category would drop to 6000 in the same period.
Garnering youth support to #ActNow
Harnessing the voices of young people and different civil society organizations is a key part of these efforts. In preparations for the Summit, our UN team in Turkmenistan have mobilized young people, civil society as well as the heads of UN entities to promote the global ‘Act Now campaign.’
Young people have played a particularly important role in bringing the campaign to a wider audience; by delivering compelling video messages on social media under the theme "Call to Action for a Healthy Planet”. From raising awareness of the importance of changing gender norms at home, to the every day changes needed to reduce plastic waste across the country, young SDG Ambassadors are positioning themselves as powerful agents of change in this SDG journey.
This week’s SDG Summit is a make or break moment for sustainable development around the world; thanks to our effor outlined above; Turkmenistan stands ready to make it count.