Experts stated on difficulties in achieving Sustainable Development Goals in EAEU and across the globe

The present-day world situation and sanctions against Russia and Belarus complicate the Sustainable Development Goals’ achievement not only in the Eurasian Economic Union, but also worldwide. New risks are associated with ensuring global food security, disruption of international supply and production chains as well as destruction of international law. Such conclusions were reached by attendees of the Eurasian Economic Commission’s round table on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals amidst post-pandemic.

As Sergei Glazyev, EEC Minister in charge of Integration and Macroeconomics, has stressed the EAEU faced new difficulties after the pandemic. The sanctions have nearly disrupted relations between Russia and Belarus with the European Union which accounts for half of the EAEU's exports and almost half of its imports.

"Product supply chains are being destroyed, and prices for primary and exchange goods, including food products, are rising. Under these circumstances, it will be difficult to achieve the SDGs, especially those related to ending hunger (SDG 2) and ensuring health and well-being (SDG 3). We see the tendency for chaotic food markets in many countries. We should think about how to stabilize them", Sergei Glazyev said. "The resources and technologies available in the world enable manufacturing food for 20 bln people, which is twice as many as populate the planet. The problem resides in their fair distribution, developing equitable international economic relations as well as price increases due to the policy of quantitative easing of countries issuing reserve currencies".
According to Sergei Glazyev, significant reform of international trade and economic relations is required: "We set an objective to develop the Eurasian exchange space and we think about how to develop a new international monetary and financial system that would be invulnerable to sanctions".

Muratbek Azimbakiev, Deputy Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, focused on the Sustainable Development Goals crucial for the SCO, including eradication of poverty, poverty reduction, enhancement of education quality and green agenda.

"Today, the SCO becomes a key element in forming a space of open and mutually beneficial cooperation. Through the offices of the SCO and EAEU countries, the Eurasian region will become a space of peace and prosperity", Muratbek Azimbakiev said.
The round table attendees have stated that the pandemic and the current crisis stopped the progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, Ahmad Zafarullah, Director of the ASEAN Integration Monitoring Department of the Secretariat, stressed that more than 10 mln people had returned to the extreme poverty level since 2020. At the same time, the post-pandemic recovery in the ASEAN continues, this was facilitated by the growth of demand in trade and active investment in services, manufacturing and technology industries. However, the situation in Ukraine can disrupt the global supply chain, especially food products, fuel and fertilizers.

Irina Gaida
, Director of the Energy Centre of the SKOLKOVO School of Management, has noted that economists across the globe are concerned about how sanctions against Russia will affect the global economy considering its significant share in the world export of grain crops and hydrocarbons. Besides, she paid attention to the change in discussing the green agenda. 

"The EU announces ambitious plans to move away from dependence on Russian gas by switching to other supply sources and accelerating the green agenda. But in fact, we witness rejection of the green agenda and the use of coal capacities. Conversations were resumed about using nuclear energy".
Sergei Glazyev stated that the sanctions actually "shoot down the green agenda". 

"By rejecting Russian energy resources, the EU expands unsustainable fuels (for example, coal). It will mean a significant lag in implementing the SDGs, relating to access to clean energy (SDG 7) and climate action (SDG 13). Today, we in the EAEU discuss forming a systemic environmental agenda which regulates emissions of not only greenhouse gases, but also other harmful gases affecting the public health. We believe that the environmental agenda should be expanded", the EEC Minister said.
Tatiana Zavyalova, Senior Vice President for ESG at Sberbank, proposed creating a unified taxonomy of the EAEU green finance based on the best practices of Russia, Kazakhstan and other EAEU countries. According to her, this will enable approving the concept of green project in the EAEU territory and facilitating investments in this field from any of its parts.

In particular, Tatiana Zavyalova proposed to create own ESG infrastructure. She took the certification system for green projects and initiatives, the ESG reporting standard, assessment and verification methodologies as an example.

In turn, Asem Kernebaeva, Managing Director of the EDB Directorate for Green and Social Initiatives, informed on green projects already financed by the Bank.

"We plan to increase the share of green projects in the Bank's portfolio from current 15% to 25% by 2026", she stressed.

Fatimat Niuma, Deputy Minister of National Planning, Housing and Infrastructure of the Republic of Maldives, shared her experience in implementing green projects in her country, and Sergey Korotkov, Director of the UNIDO Centre for International Industrial Cooperation in the Russian Federation, went into detail on promoting sustainable and foster industrialization (SDG 9) as well as starting a global program to encourage the use of green hydrogen in the manufacturing industry.

In conclusion, Anastasia Nesvetailova, Head of the Macroeconomics and Development Policy Division of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, paid attention to the change in forecasts for 2022. 

"In general, there will be growth throughout the world, but it will be fragmented and will not affect those countries involved in the conflict. According to our estimates, developing countries will need 310 bln US dollars to repay external public debt", Anastasia Nesvetailova noted.
Summing up the round table, Askar Japparkulov, Moderator — Director of the EEC Macroeconomic Policy Department, noted the timeliness of this discussion as well as the need for international dialogue to achieve sustainable development of the planet and society.

For reference

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 interrelated goals elaborated by the UN General Assembly in 2015 as a "plan to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”.

The EEC round table on achieving the SDGs was held as part of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development of the UN Economic and Social Commission. The discussion was attended by heads and officials of the SCO, the ASEAN Secretariat, the UNIDO, the UNCTAD, the EDB, Sberbank, Skolkovo and other organizations.

The round table materials include: presentations made by Irina GaidaAhmad ZafarullaSergey Korotkov and Anastasia Nesvetailova.