Makhabbat Yespenova and Zhanybek Aigazin


X Civil Forum “30 years of partnership in the interests of sustainable development of the society and state”

Part III. On the role of civil society and private sector in achieving SDGs in Kazakhstan.

Director General of the Applied Economics Research Centre Zhanybek Aigazin and Director of the Civil Alliance of Nur-Sultan Makhabbat Yespenova were the speakers of UNDP panel session “UN Sustainable Development Goals - image of the Kazakhstan future” of X Civil Forum.


In his speech on the role of private sector in achieving SDGs in Kazakhstan, Zhanybek Aigazin noted that Kazakhstan has managed to achieve visible progress in education, entrepreneurship development, expanding access to financial services and funds, reducing poverty and modernizing the judicial system since adoption of the 2030 Agenda.


The upcoming period until 2030 requires a more pragmatic, practical approach — effective initiatives, measures, as well as projects that will make a significant contribution to implementation of SDGs in Kazakhstan, and in the region as a whole.

Main message for today, according to the speaker, should be precisely the transition from awareness of sustainable development importance to certain actions.

On the one hand, it requires responsible behavior and political will on the part of the state. On the other hand, it is important to involve everyone and mobilize the maximum amount of resources. At the same time, the private sector can become a key, capable of creating additional opportunities for introduction of new technologies and attracting direct financing to projects aimed at achieving SDGs”, Zhanybek Aigazin stressed.


He also noted that today large companies are implementing sustainable development strategies in their activities, while small and medium-sized businesses are still at the stage of formal attitude to SDGs.

Widespread presence of the quasi-public sector in the Kazakhstan economy makes it difficult to distinguish between its contribution to commercial investment and contribution of the Kazakhstan private enterprise sector.


Share of the SME sector in Kazakhstan's GDP is 29.5%, with 37.5% employment (data for 2019). For comparison, in Saudi Arabia, SMEs account for 20% of GDP, while creating 51% of jobs, in the United Arab Emirates they account for 30% of GDP and 86% of jobs. The data indicate that our SME is not yet efficient enough and does not differ in productivity growth. Therefore, it does not provide a contribution to sustainable development of the economy”, the expert believes.


According to him, further qualitative step forward still requires significant effort on detail understanding of the sustainable development strategy and transition from discussion of the priorities for implementation of methodology to achieve them, to the transformation of business strategies and business models in the interests of SDGs, as well as to measuring specific practical results both in terms of socio-ecological effects, and with regard to growth and development of business in the global economy.


At the same time, creating favorable conditions for business and stimulating economic growth should also occur in parallel with minimizing the burden on environment, which will ensure long-term sustainability of the economy as a whole”, Zhanybek Aigazin summed up.


Director of the Civil Alliance of Nur-Sultan Makhabbat Yespenova spoke about the contribution of civil society to achievement of SDGs.

When such question as 'what contribution can civil society make to achieving SDGs?' is asked, I answer: we are already making contribution. Starting from the jobs that we create, ending with informing all our beneficiaries about what the Sustainable Development Goals are. Including our assistance and support in collecting and analyzing information for analyzing and measuring progress in achieving SDGs and contributing to preparation of a voluntary national review on achieving SDGs”, the speaker noted.


According to her, the Sustainable Development Goals cover social, environmental and economic aspects of the life of societies and states. In our country, SDGs are supplemented by the program “Rukhani Zhangyru”, the Hearing State Concept and strategic documents.


Makhabbat Yespenova gave examples of successful projects in the field of SDGs: holding of the Mission 2030 Games, the Forum of Rural Women, exhibition of art objects dedicated to SDGs on territory of Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport JSC and others.


According to the speaker, successful work of civil institutions is hindered by the lack of clear mechanisms for implementing the Hearing State Concept, lack of access to broadband Internet in the regions, paper reporting, frequent manifestations of formalism in interaction with civil society institutions, and so on.

Civil society institutions can do a lot if they will be heard”, concluded Makhabbat Yespenova.


At the end of panel session, moderators summed up the discussion.

We have just recently signed a document with the Civil Alliance of Kazakhstan aimed at combining our joint potentials to prepare not only Voluntary National Review, but also National Report on SDGs. Our joint work began with the discussion of specific issues on achieving SDGs in Kazakhstan. I hope that our cooperation will be as effective as possible. Let's achieve the Sustainable Development Goals together!”, Ruslan Sultanov concluded.

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