Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan

As prepared for delivery

02 July 2019
Hilton Hotel 1B Azadlig Avenue, Baku 1000

Dear Mr. Tahir Budagov,
Head of State Statistical Committee and member of National Coordination Council for Sustainable Development of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Your excellency Ali Ahmadov, Deputy Prime Minister and Head of National Coordination Council for Sustainable Development (NCCSD) of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Dear Mr. Ghulam M. Isaczai, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations (UN) in Azerbaijan

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is my pleasure to be here today at the Presentation Ceremony of the National Information Portal on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Needless to say, the SDGs are the overarching umbrella for all of the UNDP’s development projects both globally and nationally. Not just the UNDP, but all the UN agencies. As we are launching the SDGs portal today, I actually want to look back and reflect a little bit on various joint initiatives we have carried out as the UN family here in Azerbaijan in the past couple years following the historic moment when the UN member states adopted the new Global Agenda for Development and 17 SDGs in September 2015.

List of SDG initiatives:

Last year, we have worked hard to showcase the importance of the SDGs as the global blueprint to end poverty, protect the environment and ensure that people in peace and prosperity –through a widespread SDG advocacy campaign.

As part of this advocacy effort, UNDP, teaming up with other UN agencies and the American Chamber of Commerce facilitated the fist in the country private sector engagement reaching out to close to 200 business sector professionals. There we tried to show that it was important for companies to incorporate the SDGs into their business strategy and look at the SDGs as a business case, with the potential to unfold 13 trillion USD per year for the business sector in 4 areas –health and wellbeing; cities and urban mobility; energy and materials; food and agriculture.

A similar initiative then was organised in partnership with FAO among Azerbaijan’s diverse media representatives, bloggers, vloggers and independent writers to sensitise them about the SDGs.

Later that year, together with the Government of Azerbaijan we have launched
The first Baku Forum on the SDGs focusing on strengthening the regional partnerships (SDG 16).

Together with the government and other UN agencies, UND has supported 2 consecutive rounds of the SDGs innovation challenge soliciting business ideas that tackled at least one global goal.

We have supported the Government of Azerbaijan in preparing and submitting the first and second Volunteer National Reviews on the progress achieved on the SDGs. I am glad to share with you that this year Azerbaijan will present its second VNR on 17 July 2019 at HLPF in New York.

As the UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner claims, leaving no one behind “remains fundamental to the success of SDGs”. However, he also remarks that for ensuring a good SDGs implementation, a “risked informed” approach based on empirical data is of high necessity.

Indeed, the availability of high-quality, accessible and timely data is vital for decision-making as well as for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its ambitions of leaving no one behind. For that, the global statistical community strives to develop methodologies and technologies to innovate and modernise statistical production operations, to explore ways to integrate all data sources as well as analyse, visualise and disseminate data in an open, timely and effective way.

Globally, UNDP has earned a reputation for leading a number of initiatives around the word on open data. Let me give you a couple examples of our work here.

UNDP has carried out pilot assessments in 6 countries (Bangladesh, Moldova, Swaziland, Trinidad and Tobago) and helped improve statistical framework both in terms of structure as well as piloting innovative platforms.

Findings during the pilot assessments suggest that National Statistical Offices have evolved from sole data producers to coordinators, managing various data inputs from the broader ecosystem (including data from the private sector, CSOs and Individuals), ensuring data quality, comparability and harmonization. This is why coordinated efforts on the part of government, private sector, civil society, academic institutions, policy think tanks, and individuals is also crucial to harness data for development.

So, it goes without saying that to fully implement and monitor progress on the SDGs, policy and decision makers are in great need of accurate, timely, and accessible data. This is why UNDP is committed to support the government and partners in building capacities, innovative tools and platforms for the collection, analysis and showcasing of accurate, timely and sufficiently disaggregated data on SDGs.

Data reporting on the SDGs represent an unprecedented opportunity for countries around the world to track and evaluate their progress. It also plays a vital role in identifying vulnerable groups and addressing their needs. For example, according to SDG Progress Report of 2018, in the period 2012–2017, almost 80 per cent of live births worldwide took place with the assistance of skilled health personnel, one of the most critical interventions, up from 62 per cent in the 2000–2005 period. The greatest progress was made in Central and Southern Asia, from 40 per cent to 77 per cent. This is a prime example of how data aids us in assessing progress and development for SDGs implementation.

The Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 are highly ambitious and demand constant adaptation of methodologies. This is why we are always seeking for innovative ways to produce and apply data in addressing the multifaceted challenges of sustainable development.
I trust that the National Information Portal on Sustainable Development Goals will be useful and beneficial in getting us a step closer to achieving the goals we have set for 2030.

Thank you very much! TESHEKKURLER!

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