International economic integration helps achieve sustainable development targets

30 october 2019

How is the Eurasian economic union managing to achieve the sustainable development goals? What are the sustainable development targets in the national strategies of the member states of the Union? How are integration and sustainable development goals affecting each other? Those were the questions experts discussed at a round table hosted by the Analytical Center.

"As a relatively new economic union, the EEU from the very start sought to achieve the sustainable development goals," said Rimma Kiseleva, deputy head of the Integration Development Department of the Eurasian Economic Commission."Today the development priorities of both the member states and the union as a whole are more or less aligned with the global sustainable development goals. Meanwhile, economic integration within the union is acting as an additional factor helping better achieve sustainable development targets."

Thus, according to her, one of the goals of the EEU is to create conditions for sustained economic growth in the member state and improve the quality of life for the population and that goal is actually one of the global sustainable development objectives. In addition, cooperation between the member states on labor migration is promoting more efficient allocation of human resources and reducing unemployment.

However, as economic integration between the countries continues apace, it is not obvious how to go about assessing the achievement of sustainable development goals, noted Deputy Head of the Analytical Center Tatiana Radchenko. "It is important that we understand how to assess achievement of sustainable development goals if a specific country hasn't yet approved a list of targets and what targets are affected the most by economic integration. To answer those questions we've developed a methodology for assessing achievement of sustainable development goals in the Eurasian Economic Union that takes into account the impact of integration," Ms Radchenko explained.

The assessment methodology comprises four main steps: identifying indicators to be assessed and their target values, collecting and analysing data. In addition, each indicator is assessed through the prims of the legislative regulations of the Eurasian Economic Union. Having analysed the current situation the experts concluded that out of the 169 sustainable development goals, 107 are already included in the existing regulations of the Union or regulations the Union is on the verge of adopting. "Some of the procedures may not necessarily match the sustainable development goals exactly, but they help achieve them," explained Ksenia Bannikova, Head of the Department for International Business of the Analytical Center. She went on to add that this type of analysis helps estimate which targets can be achieved and which ones need more work before they can be achieved.

Participants in the discussion noted the positive trends in the achievement by EEU member states of such targets as reducing infant and mother mortality, increasing life expectancy, improving access to education, reducing poverty, improving the nutritional value of the most common diet by increasing consumption of meat, fish and vegetables. Meanwhile, there area  number of issues that need closer attention, according to the experts. Thus, in a number of countries the mortality rate for men in their prime is still very high as is the level of unemployment among the young and the level of poverty in rural areas. The share of household income spent on groceries remains high while spending on recreation and entertainment remains low.

It should be noted that the Analytical Center is coordinating the preparation of the Voluntary National Review of the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Russia that will be presented at the UN in 2020.