Region betting on innovation, clean energy and leadership in logistics
    Euronews about the SPECA Summit in Baku/VIDEO

    ECONOMICS  02 December 2023 - 12:57

    Baku hosted participants of the first summit of SPECA, the UN special program for Central Asia. At the meeting, leaders discussed how to transform the region into a global multidisciplinary hub.

    This year the SPECA program celebrates its 25th anniversary. In the anniversary year, a summit was organized for the first time with the participation of the leaders of the SPECA member states. The main theme of the gathering in Baku is the transformation of the region into a global logistics center connected to the rest of the planet.

    Sustainable transport, trade, and energy are among the most important topics that are traditionally addressed through SPECA. The project was released in 1998, its task is to promote the integration of participating countries into the world economy and the development of an interconnected platform in the region to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. SPECA brings together five Central Asian countries, as well as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and two UN agencies.

    The summit supported the creation of a Multilateral Trust Fund under the auspices of the UN. Azerbaijan, chair of this year's SPECA events, will contribute $3.5 million. In an interview with a Euronews correspondent, President Ilham Aliyev noted the “unprecedentedly high” level of interaction between the countries of Central Asia, achieved in the last two years.

    “This is a new reality, and we need to make the most of it,” Aliyev noted.

    “We have excellent relations with all SPECA countries, we have many investment projects: Azerbaijan invests in Central Asia, and Central Asia invests in Azerbaijan,” said the Azerbaijani leader, recalling that one of the pillars of regional cooperation is the East-West Trans-Caspian transport route.

    The Baku Declaration adopted at the summit underscores the high political commitment to sharing the region's enormous potential.

    “The analysis shows that it is possible to increase the total volume of foreign trade of our countries from $52 billion today to $100 billion by 2030,” Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said at the summit.

    Optimization of Central Asian and, more broadly, international cooperation was also discussed at the SPECA Economic Forum held ahead of the summit. One of the tasks outlined here is to transform the region into an important link between Europe and Asia.

    “We, landlocked countries, must cooperate, and expand transport partnerships, which will simplify trade and enhance our integration into the world economy,” said Azerbaijani Deputy Economy Minister Samad Bashirli.

    Increasing the capacity of transport corridors, and optimizing logistics - the region solves these problems using new technologies.

    “Digitalization is the key to achieving the goal, with it goods travel through the corridor between Europe and Asia much faster,” says Dmitry Maryasin, co-chairman of the SPECA economic forum.

    The Trans-Caspian international transport route is already on the rails of innovation. The participants of the meeting in Baku approved a roadmap for the digitization of the exchange of multimodal data and documents under UN standards.

    “The idea is to harmonize digitization across the entire supply chain using UN standards,” explained Mario Apostolov, regional adviser at the UN Economic Commission for Europe. - This way, data can flow smoothly through all links. The key word in this project is interoperability.”

    Another major topic of debate in Baku was the region's transition to interconnected energy systems with an emphasis on low-carbon energy sources.

    “We call on member states to scale up the use of clean sources, integrate them into their energy mix, and strengthen the capacity of the energy system to accommodate additional renewable energy capacity,” said Iva Brkic, UNECE Chief Sustainable Energy Expert.

    “This will help the region become sustainable, reach net zero.”

    Kazakhstan is already actively moving towards decarbonization of the economy. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev spoke about this, as well as the focus on diversification, in an interview with our channel.

    He noted that today his country retains coal in its energy balance, promising a positive shift shortly. “This is a global trend, and Kazakhstan will not lag behind,” President Tokayev assured.

    Other regional countries, which have enormous energy potential, are not going to lag behind. They are working to diversify energy transit routes to world markets.

    “Energy resources are distributed unevenly,” noted Samir Valiev, Deputy Minister of Energy of Azerbaijan, “and to ensure the energy security of countries, there is an objective need for cooperation and unification. The SPECA program contributes to the development of such partnerships.”

    Caliber.Az

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