Keynote speech for UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Munkhtuya Altangerel at Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum (SIGEF17) Plenary session “SDG as multi-stakeholder opportunities”

Sep 6, 2017

Distinguished participants and guests of the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum,

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to speak today at this Forum. I would like to thank social network Horyou for providing a platform to discuss sustainable development with such a wide range of experts and international stakeholders.

To stress the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, I would like to speak from the perspective of building smart cities.

Let me give you a few examples of the approach that we use to promote low-carbon cities in Kazakhstan.

More than half of the world’s population now live in urban areas. By 2050, that figure will have risen to 6.5 billion people – two-thirds of all humanity. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces.

Kazakhstan is no exception to this global pattern. At present, approximately half the population lives in Astana, Almaty and in other smaller cities. Experts estimate that by 2030, this figure will have risen to around two-thirds.  It is clear then that Kazakhstan, one of the largest land-locked countries in the world, is rapidly becoming more urbanized. 

At the same time, cities are facing a growing crisis in infrastructure, particularly in regard to public utilities. Around 70% of residential city homes use inefficient heating systems, with as much as 50% of the energy provided being wasted.

There are a number of ways that UNDP has been addressing this issue. Together with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), we helped design and implement a more efficient management model that offers a range of energy-saving measures such as installation of automated heat supply stations, and the reinforcement of window frames in order to provide better insulation. As a result, energy consumption fell by around 35%, at an investment cost per square metre of building of only 5 to 8 US dollars.

Across the world transport is one of the biggest polluters. In Kazakhstan, it is accountable for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions. Efficient transport systems depend on numerous factors, with town-planning playing a central role in it. For instance, imagine a certain road undergoing gentrification and ending up being twice as narrow as before.  Vehicles will then start getting clogged up in traffic jams more often, resulting in increased pollution.

Our project in Almaty has brought together stakeholders from the city municipality, the private sectors, non-governmental organizations and the public to discuss challenges posed by transport overload in the city. We have helped expand bus lanes and promoted the use of bicycles in the city. More importantly, a gradual behavior change is now evident, as increasingly more people choose to get on public transport and on bicycles in Kazakhstan.

As you see, cities represent entire systems. And if we are to build smart and sustainable cities, we need to think how we can bring more sustainability into every part of urban infrastructure.

After having tried and tested demonstration projects promoting greater energy efficiency across Kazakhstan, we are now working to reduce carbon intensity in a series of cities. Together with Kazakhstan and the Global Environment Facility we are helping local decision-making bodies to identify areas in urban planning and infrastructure which can prevent greenhouse gas emissions and improve urban infrastructure.

We selected fifteen pilot cities where we are now working with local authorities to put into practice our knowledge and experience which we have amassed during our work in Kazakhstan and in nearly 170 countries across the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

None of the stakeholders, however, can build smart cities and achieve the SDGs agenda on their own. Resolving the problems associated with the public utilities sector requires financial investments. Currently, these expenses are being covered mainly by the Government in Kazakhstan. There is a strong need to decentralize and diversify these expenses. The specific feature of our current project promoting low-carbon sustainable cities is that instead of being only a demonstration project, we now aim at finding investments from the private sector. We encourage private companies to invest in greener urban infrastructure so that they then can receive added revenue back when the greener projects pay off and the resultant difference between the former “brown” and “green” energy costs become private companies’ earnings.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our session today is called “SDGS as Multi-Stakeholder Opportunities”. Let me emphasize that just as it is important to work on all of the Sustainable Goals to “leave no one behind”, it is also important to create favourable conditions and financial incentives to make investment into sustainability a preferred choice for all the stakeholders, and especially for businesses.

In conclusion, let me emphasize that the SDGs not only provide plenty of opportunities for cooperation between various stakeholders, but, indeed, they cannot be achieved without collaboration between these stakeholders. I hope that today’s discussion will give all of us a chance to create new partnerships and reflect on what more we can do to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Thank you.

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