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Experts Explore Innovative Technologies to Advance the Green Transformation in North and Central Asia
2024-04-12 ICCSD

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) held an Expert Group Meeting on Harnessing Innovative Technologies to Advance Green Transformation for Sustainable Development in North and Central Asia in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 26 to 27 March 2024.

The meeting took place in the context of the final year of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014-2024. While North and Central Asia has made some progress in implementing the Vienna Programme of Action, ongoing multiple crises have exacerbated the vulnerabilities of landlocked developing countries in the subregion.

“Innovation and technology hold immense promise as drivers of green transformation, but they must be deployed judiciously and inclusively to ensure that no one is left behind. By fostering collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and technology transfer, we can unlock new pathways towards sustainable development that benefit all actors of society,” said Nikolay Pomoshchnikov, Head of the Subregional Office for North and Central Asia of ESCAP.

Speaking at the event, H.E. Askar Zhambakin, Vice-Minister of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry of Kazakhstan, further underscored “As we explore the possibilities offered by cutting-edge technologies, we must remain mindful of the need for inclusivity, equity, and accessibility. Digital transformation must be inclusive, reaching even the most marginalized communities and empowering them to participate fully in the transition to sustainability.”

The Expert Group Meeting served to enhance the awareness and understanding of policymakers on the potential of innovation and technology in accelerating green economic transformation for sustainable development, existing barriers to innovation and concrete solutions. Experts also assessed the impact of innovation and technology-related policies on digital development, sustainable transport and climate-smart agriculture to address persistent development challenges and negative impacts of multiple crises in North and Central Asia.

Experts further proposed concrete recommendations to policymakers on integrating innovation into sustainable development strategy and enhancing regional cooperation with a view to the Third United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries in June 2024, in Kigali, Rwanda.

The urgency of harnessing technology to drive green transformation for sustainable development is increasingly being recognized in North and Central Asia. The Euro-Asia Call for Action, adopted at the High-Level Euro-Asia Regional Review Meeting of the Vienna Programme of Action in Bangkok, Thailand in August 2023, noted that limited technological sophistication remains a key constraint, particularly for the landlocked developing countries. It was also noted that emerging technologies could enhance development prospects, partially mitigate geographical and other challenges, and prevent and mitigate the risk of further deindustrialization of the economies of the subregion. Financial and technical assistance, and technology transfer are essential for successful transformation. The United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) 2023 Economic Forum held in Baku, Azerbaijan, also urged countries in the subregion to consider new technologies and the sustainability of products and services in future planning, and to prioritize climate-resilient agriculture.