Azerbaijan scored the best results among Caspian Sea and South Caucasus countries evaluated in the Sustainable Development Report 2020, which measures the commitment of 166 nations to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) adopted by the United Nations.
Azerbaijan has ranked 54th among 166 countries with an overall index score of 72.6, the report revealed. The country of 10 million people demonstrated a strong commitment to all seventeen goals given the overall indicators outlined in the document.
"According to the sustainable development goals index, Azerbaijan is a regional leader. Our country ranks 54th, leaving behind all its neighbors," Vusal Gasimli, Executive Director of the Center for the Analysis of Economic Reforms and Communication was quoted by Fed.az as saying in response to the report. "Russia is 57th, Georgia 58th, Iran 59th, Kazakhstan 65th, Turkey 70th, Armenia 75th, and Turkmenistan 114th in the report."
He went on to add that Azerbaijan made progress on UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as health, welfare, poverty, nutrition, clean water, clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, peace, justice and strong institutions.
The SDGs are a key focus of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all member states of the United Nations in 2015. Under the key principle of “leaving no one behind,” the agenda mandates a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all around the planet now and into the future. The 17 SDGs, aimed at transforming the world for the better, include no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequality; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; life below water; life on land; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnerships to achieve the goal.
Azerbaijan achieved sustainable development goals in terms of "no poverty" according to this year's records. The entire population of the country has access to electricity, while 91.4 percent use basic drinking water services and 98.5 percent have access to improved water sources, according to the report. Around four-fifth or 79.8 percent of the country's ten million population use the internet.
The Caspian country improved its performance in the category of security and safety, compared to the previous report. The homicide rate per 100,000 people is 2.0, which was 2.1 in the 2019 report. Walking alone at night in the city or area where they live is safe for 82.4 of the population, meant to be 7.7 percent more than in the last year.
Despite the 99.9 percent literacy rate among the population aged 15 to 24, Azerbaijan recorded a decrease in the quality of education index due to the declined net primary enrollment rate (92.4%) and low secondary completion rate (84.4%). In the previous report, these two rates were indicated at 93.7 percent and 88.45 percent respectively.
"Azerbaijan scored 72.6 out of a possible 100 points in the Sustainable Development Goals Index. For comparison, the average Sustainable Development Goals Index in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is 70.9," Gasimli said while mentioning also the 38.6 Gini coefficient of the country, which, according to him, is one of the world's best outcomes of its kind. The Gini coefficient or Gini index/Gini ratio is a statistical measure of economic inequality in a population.
The government of Azerbaijan approved a strategic roadmap for the social and economic development of the key sectors with short-term (by 2020), medium-term (by 2025), and long-term target outlooks (beyond 2025), of which many goals fit in with the SDGs. The country was among the pioneers of the region to undertake missions designed for identifying definitive steps that would help accelerate the implementation of SDGs.
These achievements followed drastic improvements in ease of doing business in Azerbaijan. In the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report for 2018, Azerbaijan claimed a spot among the top ten socio-economic reformers. During the same year, Azerbaijan hosted the first high-level forum on sustainable development, a platform for looking into practical solutions to challenges involving inclusive economic growth, productive employment, gender equality, youth participation, peaceful coexistence and justice for all, as well as access to clean resources and tackling climate change.