by: Khalid Taimur Akram,
Belarus has pursued a gradual strategic path characterized with robust reforms and socio-economic development. Lessons learned in the process of implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) constitute a valuable foundation for fulfilling Agenda 2030. As per an annual report of 2015 on implementing the MDGs, Belarus has achieved practically all the goals ahead of schedule. For example, by 2015, the share of the poor declined by 8 times.
Primary education became public and inclusive. Maternal mortality was reduced by 18 times, and children’s (up to 5 years) mortality by 4 times. The country has achieved a significant reduction in carbon emissions, and the consumption of ozone-depleting substances over the past five years was reduced by 50%. The carbon intensity of the economy has decreased by 4 times, and the energy intensity of GDP was reduced by 3 times.
Presently, the government has taken notable steps and achieved success in implementing 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many of the defined targets under agenda 2030 have already been achieved. It all became possible due to the efforts of leadership and integrated departments/stakeholders in the country. Thus, Belarus has emerged as a strong regional player and role model for other states.
Now, the dynamic leadership is committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and considers that the SDGs can be achieved through coordinated economic, social and environmental activities by all national partners under political stability and steady economic growth. Therefore, the focus will be on major areas, i.e.,
food safety and sustainable agriculture, health and education, gender equality, economic expansion, regional/global outreach through connectivity, employment, sustainable infrastructure establishment, and stimulation of sustainable industrialization and innovation.
National Strategy for Sustainable Socioeconomic Development:
The Belarusian government has also approved the national strategy for sustainable socio-economic development, which sets out the main milestones to be achieved by 2030. The main objectives of this broad strategy are as follows:
- Transform the national economic model from administrative to indicative planning
- Achieve a balance between public and private sector contributions to Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
- Develop the national economy
- Agriculture development
- Introduce the principles of the green economy in the industrial sector
- Promote innovative development and social support for the most in need
- Create conditions in which every individual can achieve his or her potential (provide job opportunities)
- Strengthen civil rights and infrastructure development
- Digital transformation
Under these assertions, it can be anticipated that Belarus has a very high chance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Moreover, with such successes to build on, the Belarusian government has taken important steps to prepare for agenda 2030.
These steps include; the establishment of a high level, cross-ministerial institutional coordination mechanism led by an SDG Coordinator reporting to the President and involving consultation with representatives of civil society, parliament, and the private sector; presentation of the Voluntary National Review Report at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, and wide-scale public awareness and communication campaigns, conducted with the support of the United Nations.
Strengthening Green Economy for Inclusive Economic Development:
Policymakers in Belarus have been prioritizing key areas for a green economy, promoting investment and spending in areas that stimulate a green economy. An analysis shows that the country has significant potential in the natural resources and the energy sector. By shifting investment from fossil fuel development and import to energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Belarus would witness lasting economic and environmental benefits, most notably reduced GHG emissions. In this aspect, some suggestions are mentioned for Belarus to implement an overall green economy transition while focusing on key sectors:
- Reducing barriers in green transition
- Strengthen economic and fiscal instruments that support the development of green technologies and practices through fiscal incentives
- Provide energy efficiency employment/ renewable energy employment
- Reform energy subsidies of all kinds for green transitions
- Promote educational campaigns about the environmental and economic benefits of the green economy
Under these assertions, it is clear that the government’s Agenda 2030 will pave the way for substantial development and stabilize the economic outlook. The Government has shown a desire to support the green transition and has enacted several policies that will support this transition, most notably the National Strategy for Sustainable Socio-economic Development 2030, which codifies the green economy as the desired approach.
The visionary leadership of Belarus is fully aware of the fundamental impediments, thus, working efficiently to curtail those threats to achieve agenda 2030.