Vision 2020 and Global Development Challenges

Dec 3, 2012

Statement of Mr. Antonius Broek, UNDP Resident Representative, at the Azerbaijan Vision 2020 Conference in Baku.

Dear Mr. Mehdiyev, Excellencies, Colleagues of the UN, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is one of my first public speeches in my capacity as a UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan and I am very pleased that it happens to be on such important milestone “Vision 2020”. UNDP and the entire UN family in Azerbaijan have been proactive in advocating for the need of such strategy and we are happy that today, together with representatives of the international community, we have an opportunity to discuss Vision 2020.

A year ago on 7 December much the same audience gathered to discuss the achievements and challenges for Azerbaijan in its 20 years since independence and, one could argue even more important, what the way forward could be. Some of the ideas discussed then, found their way in Vision 2020.

It is by now the accepted reality that diversification of its economy is a MUST for Azerbaijan. We are much appreciative that while the country benefits much from the earnings it receives in its natural resources, it does not wait until diversifying its economy right now. Only a diversified economy will be able to provide decent jobs and sustainable socio-economic development to Azerbaijan’s young and growing population. Just to give a few statistics – 45% of GDP in Azerbaijan is created by the oil and mining sector that employs 1% of its people. By contrast, agriculture, which creates 6% of GDP, employs 45% of Azerbaijan’s population. The land productivity and output in Azerbaijan (while on par with neighboring Georgia) is still below its potential and much lower than in many other Middle-income countries. The people who work in the agricultural sector need options for alternative jobs or support to make sure that their productivity and, hence, incomes increase. The UN is pleased to see that the issues of diversification, good jobs and regional development are recognized in Vision 2020.

Another crucial issue is education and capacity building– for the country to stay competitive, its people must have the knowledge and skills that are comparable and competitive with the rest of the world. This applies both to the overall education section as well as specifically to modernized vocational training for new types of job options.

The issues of sustainable development, education, employment climate change – to name a few – are on the global development agenda and Vision 2020 fits very well into this global discussion about where each country, region and the world wants to be in the future.

The discussions on the Post 2015 Framework and the new Sustainable Development Goals – to replace MDGs after 2015 – have already started. Initial discussions were held for instance during the recent Rio+20 Conference and the UN SG, Ban Ki-Moon has created a high level panel to guide him in this process.With UN support, country level dialogues on SDGs have been initiated and are to be completed in early 2013. The global required and country specific goal of these discussions is to identify a range of economic and social policy options that promote growth and also help achieve greater equity, sustainability and security.

We believe that Vision 2020 provides an excellent basis to conduct these discussions on SDGs also in Azerbaijan. After its adoption the Vision 2020 document could serve as a road-map for the discussions on SDGs. On one hand, it will present country level, regional and global challenges and opportunities in the context of Azerbaijan; on the other hand it will present Azerbaijani perspectives and solutions to these problems and new goals.  

We look forward to assisting the Government of Azerbaijan government in implementation of Vision 2020 and in supporting it in formulating the country position vis-à-vis post-2015 Development Agenda. This process would definitely benefit from the suggestions and support of the socio-economic development partners of Azerbaijan.

Thank you.

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