More than 70 representatives of the Georgian government and the United Nations (UN) team in Georgia gathered in Kachreti on 7 and 8 May 2019 for a two-day workshop organized jointly to identify “bottlenecks” and “accelerators” in the country’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the global agenda for sustainable development adopted by all UN member states in 2015.
The workshop was opened by Kakha Kakhishvili, Head of the Government Administration and Chairman of the National SDG Council, and Louisa Vinton, who leads the UN Country Team in Georgia.
“Georgia was a pioneer in translating the SDG framework into national strategies and in establishing a structure for SDG implementation,” Kakhisvili said. “This workshop gives us an opportunity to see how well we’re doing, what we should adjust to move faster and where Georgia might need assistance.”
“Our focus today is on bottlenecks,” said Vinton, “since if Georgia takes action now to dismantle the biggest barriers to progress, the country is poised to surge forward in the achievement of multiple goals. Our analysis suggests that the best prospects here are youth employment and rural development.”
Workshop participants discussed the findings of a UN technical analysis conducted over nine months under the leadership of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). This analysis reviewed 55 different sectoral strategies and Georgia’s Association Agreement with the European Union (EU) to assess how well SDG targets are reflected in national plans, and how well national priority goals are funded.
The findings were broadly positive in terms of strategic alignment: national strategies cover fully 93 percent of the SDG targets that Georgia has adopted as national priorities. It’s revealing, however, that the EU Association Agreement makes a huge contribution to the country’s alignment with SDG targets, covering fully 63 percent of all targets. This underlines the complementarity of the SDGs and the European integration agenda, and also suggests a need for the refinement of sectoral strategies. Alignment work is needed in particular for four SDGs: gender equality (#5); reduced inequalities (#10); peace, justice and strong institutions (#16); and partnerships for sustainable development (#17).
In terms of spending, some priority areas are faring better than others. Peace (#16), education (#4) and infrastructure (#9) have generous budgets, whereas poverty (#1), gender equality (#5) and environmental protection and climate change (#6, 12, 13, 14 and 15) are significantly less well-funded.
These UN findings sparked lively discussion on how budgets might be recalibrated and intersectoral cooperation strengthened to keep Georgia on course for strong results in SDG achievement in 2030. Participants were unanimous about the need for better data to assess challenges and measure progress.
More details on UN technical analysis are available in the brochure.