Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation

Sustainable development goals included in Russia’s domestic policy

Russia set the sustainable development objective long before the UN approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. Deputy head of the Analytical Center Tatiana Radchenko and head of the Analytical Center’s Department for Foreign Economic Activity Ksenia Bannikova revealed how Russia’s national goals overlap with the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) in an op-ed published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Back in 1996, the Russian president endorsed a concept of the country’s transition to sustainable development, which aimed to maintain balance in the achievement of socioeconomic objectives, environmental protection and preservation of the natural and resource potential for the purpose of accommodation of public needs, the experts said.

Nowadays, measures aimed to implement SGDs in Russia are integrated into national projects and other strategic and program documents, including doctrines, state programs, and concepts. These documents summarize all sustainable development goals.

According to the analysis made by the Analytical Center in spring 2020, 12 national projects and the Comprehensive Plan for the Modernization and Expansion of Trunk Infrastructure either directly or indirectly reflected 107 out of 169 targets set by the UN document.

National projects are being adjusted with due account of the 2030 national development goals approved by the Russian president’s order of July 21, 2020. According to authors of the article, the new national development goals directly correlate to the SDGs, including in the area of preservation of the population, public health and wellbeing, decent and efficient labor, and successful business.

As to other program and strategic documents, which directly influence the achievement of sustainable development goals, the following documents besides national projects deserve a special mention: Russia’s food security doctrine, and the state programs “Development of Education,” “Accessible Environment,” “Assistance in Employment,” and “Comprehensive Development of Rural Territories.”

The experts said also that the coronavirus pandemic and the related coronavirus restrictions had influenced not only the “Good Health and Wellbeing” SDG but also incomes and employment of the population, and the GDP dynamics. Hence, the pandemic impacted the achievement of the “End Poverty” and “Decent Work and Economic Growth” SDGs.

According to Rosstat, the average per capita income dipped 4.8% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2020. A 0.4% fall was observed over the first half of the year. Real monetary income shrank 3.1% year-on-year in the first half of 2020.

The negative effect on the labor market manifested itself in the second quarter of 2020: unemployment rates stood at 6% as against the relevant period of 2019. The GDP reduced by 11.8% in current prices of the second quarter of 2020, and 13.8% in 2016 prices, Rosstat said. Nevertheless, certain economic sectors saw development opportunities during the pandemic, the authors said. First of all, this applies to digitalization in such areas as work (the possibility of working from home can boost employment of all groups of the population), and education (broader access to education for all).

The settlement of labor relations involving employees working from home is a promising area of the post-pandemic development.

It is hard to say which of 17 sustainable development goals are more important, the experts said. All goals and targets are important. What is more, they are interrelated – sustainable development implies a combination of all three aspects of the public life, i.e. social, economic, and environmental. An analysis of materials prepared for Russia’s Voluntary National Review of the fulfillment of the 2030 agenda suggests that every SDG has the so-called “points of growth.” These are targets that need to be achieved for the sake of further progress in the fulfillment of the global objectives, the authors said. These include the accelerated growth of labor productivity and the leveling off of incomes, including those in regions.

Over recent years, Russia has made much headway in the achievement of such SDGs as “End Poverty,” “Quality Education,” and “Decent Work and Economic Growth.” Clearly, the coronavirus pandemic made some adjustments to the results, which means additional efforts and measures will be necessary to regain the earlier growth trajectory, the experts said.

The Russian government proposed and implemented a whole range of state support measures in order to minimize the pandemic-induced damage to main industrial and social sectors. A plan of priority measures (actions) was approved in March 2020 to ensure the sustainable economic development amid the situation worsening due to the novel coronavirus. It aims, in particular, at:

- monitoring and provision of the population with essential goods and support to the population (this includes mechanism maintaining sufficient reserves of socially significant goods in stores, support to employment through retraining and professional development, permission of online trade in over-the-counter drugs and medical products);

- support to industries from the risk group (including financial support to transport companies, delayed payment of taxes);

- support to small and medium businesses (inspection moratorium, increased capitalization of regional micro-finance organizations to provide preferential micro-loans to small and medium businesses).

In addition, the National Plan of Action was drafted to ensure recovery of the economy and incomes of the population, the economic growth, and long-term structural transformations. It envisages a broad range of measures in regard to:

- social support to the population (targeted benefits, assistance to employment people, including through retraining and professional development);

- development of small and medium companies (for instance, reduced insurance contributions);

- support to industries, transport, telecommunications, the fuel-and-energy sector, construction, and tourism.

According to the Recovery Plan, about 5 trillion rubles will be assigned in 2020-2021 to support the national economy and the population. Russia’s first Voluntary National Review of the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was presented on July 14, 2020. Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov said at the presentation that 3.26 trillion rubles out of those funds would be assigned for social support to the population, small and medium business, and systemic companies and enterprises from the worst-affected economic sectors, as well as for state guarantees, and support and balancing of budgets of Russian constituent territories.