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Experts discussed impact of COVID-19 pandemic on EAEU sustainable development

Experts discussed impact of COVID-19 pandemic on EAEU sustainable development


On March 12, the Eurasian Economic Commission held its thematic session "The COVID-19 pandemic and sustainable development in the regional integration association: the EAEU experience" on the eve of the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the region of the UN Economic Commission for Europe.

The attendees have considered some prospects for the recovery of the Eurasian Economic Union States and countries across the globe in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Askar Japparkulov, Director of the EEC Macroeconomic Policy Department and Moderator of the session, noted that certain EAEU economic sectors showed growth against the backdrop of the overall negative dynamics, including agriculture, manufacturing industry, pharmaceuticals, construction, production of textiles, food and beverages. As a result, the EAEU decline was less significant compared to other developed countries and integration associations of the globe, including the European Union.


"As a supranational regulatory authority, the Commission is committed to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the EAEU region. For this purpose, some measures for sustainable and inclusive development of each State have been enshrined in the Strategic Directions for Developing the Eurasian Economic Integration until 2025, which, inter alia, provide for creating conditions for the advanced economic development, increasing investment and innovation activities, boosting employment and procuring decent work for all social groups," Askar Japparkulov summed up his speech.

According to Goar Barseghyan, Director of Integration Development Department, the problem of slowdown in achieving the SDGs is stronger than ever for the EAEU countries and the Union as a whole. In this regard, the methodology for monitoring the SDGs at the Union level has been improved. The proposed methodology is fundamentally new and considers not only statistical indicators, but also measures being taken by the States to promote implementing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Irina Zbarskaya, Chief of the Department of Social and Demographic Statistics of the CIS Interstate Statistical Committee, noted that the CIS countries’ national statistical systems adequately met the challenges of promptly changing approaches to data collection and processing to reflect the countries' progress in achieving the SDGs, including the tasks of data disaggregation. The CIS Statistical Committee has formed a list of the most relevant indicators for the Member States based on the Global List of SDG Indicators.

Irina Velichko, Head of the Main Department of Multilateral Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, quantified key progress aspects of the Republic of Belarus in achieving the UN SDGs. In particular, she has reported that Belarus implemented the SDG targets by 70%: extreme poverty was completely eliminated, the Republic’s population got comprehensive access to electric power and its consumption is covered by domestic generation.

Anton Tsvetov, Deputy Director of the Department of Multilateral Economic Cooperation and Special Projects of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, stressed the importance of respecting interests of the business community when developing targeted measures to promote implementing the SDG agenda. The Expert Council on Sustainable Development has been established in Russia to implement these tasks, involving representatives of more than 30 Russian companies.

"There is nothing more important for the business community than to understand how the economic situation will change, and the Expert Council's venue can successfully meet this challenge," he mentioned.

The pandemic has stressed the links between the environmental, economic and social aspects of sustainable development.

Natalia Velikaya, Deputy Director for Science at the Institute of Socio-Political Research of the Federal Research Sociological Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, highlighted social aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has told that the general public is still concerned about the increase in cost-of-living, public utilities rates and food prices as well as the increasing social distance between the poor and the rich. Some concerns about health and access to health services were added thereto. Along with that, the lower subjective economic welfare, the lower concern about the disease probability: other matters are more relevant for these population categories.

Sergey Ryazantsev, Director of the Institute of Demographic Studies of the Federal Research Sociological Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told about the situation of migrant workers during the pandemic. This vulnerable population has faced various risks: loss of work, reduction in income, inability to return home, problems with maintaining the legal migrant worker status and difficulties in gaining access to health services.

In concluding the session, the attendees have agreed on the efficiency of expert discussions to comprehensively assess the pandemic consequences for the economy and society and develop hereon practical measures to ensure sustainable development in the EAEU region.​