Azerbaijan was the best ranked amongst the South Caucasus countries in UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Index

On 8 July, the United Nations (UN) assisted by independent experts at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Foundation published their Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index and Dashboards for all UN member states and frames of the implementation of the SDGs. Azerbaijan was the best ranked amongst the South Caucasus countries, occupying the 54th place globally with an average score of 72.6, Georgia ranked 58th with an average score of 71.9 and Armenia ranked 75th with an average score of 69.9.

In its executive summary, the report highlighted that the health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic impacts all countries, including high-income countries in Europe and North America. The necessary measures taken to respond to the immediate threat of Covid-19, including the shutdown of many economic activities for weeks, have led to a global economic crisis with massive job losses and major impacts especially on vulnerable groups. This is a significant setback for the world’s ambition to achieve the SDGs, in particular for poor countries and population groups.

The only bright spot in these circumstances was the reduction in environmental impacts resulting from declines in economic activity: a key objective will be to restore economic activity without simply restoring old patterns of environmental degradation. However, all long-term consequences of the pandemic remain highly uncertain at this point. As a means to overcome the crisis, the report suggested six broad transformations the countries need to undertake in order to come out stronger after the crisis ends, namely: 1) education, gender and equality, 2) health well-being and demography, 3) energy decarbonization and sustainable industry, 4) sustainable food, land, water and oceans, 5) sustainable cities and communities, and 6) digital revolution for sustainable development.

The report also highlighted that countries in East and South Asia progressed the most on the SDG Index score since the adoption of the goals in 2015. Most countries in this region also managed the Covid-19 outbreak more effectively than other parts of the world. The report also noted that most of the data was collected prior to the outbreak of the pandemic and therefore does not reflect the impact of Covid-19.

Speaking of the region where the South Caucasus countries were located (Eastern Europe and Central Asia), the report noted that the counties in this region obtain their best performance on SDG 1 (No Poverty) and SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy). Compared to other regions, SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) remains problematic, due to relatively high perceived corruption in some countries, low freedom of speech, or high insecurity. As for other parts of the world, poor performance on SDGs 12 to 15 on climate mitigation and biodiversity protection require urgent policy attention. Access to basic services and infrastructure, covered notably under SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), is improving rapidly. By contrast, trends on SDG 15 (Life on Land) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) are stagnating or reversing in most countries in this region.

Speaking individually of the progress made, Armenia was on track in SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) and SDG13 (climate action). In SDGs 1 (fighting poverty), 4 (education quality) and 12 (responsible consumption and production) moderate progress was recorded. The most critical areas were SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities) and 11 (sustainable cities and communities) where major challenges remain for Armenia.

As for Azerbaijan, the country was on track only in SDG1 (fighting poverty), while moderate progress was recorded in SDGs 4 (quality education), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (sustainable consumption and production) and 17 (partnerships for the promotion of the SDGs). The most critical areas were SDGs 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

Georgia was not on track on any of the SDG’s, but had the highest number of SDGs recorded as achieving moderate progress, namely: SDGs 4 (quality of education), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 13 (climate action), 15 (life on land) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). The most critical areas in the country were SDGs 3 (good health and well-being), 5 (gender equality) and 10 (reduced inequalities).

Sweden was the best ranked country in this year’s report, followed by Denmark, Finland, France and Germany. Russia was ranked 57th, Iran 59th and Turkey 70th. The worst ranked countries were Central African Republic, South Sudan and Chad.
Source: Caucasus Watch