On July 13, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Lasha Darsalia introduced Georgia’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals to the virtual meeting of the United Nations High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on July 7-17.
The report focuses on Georgia’s three priority directions: economic growth; human capital development and economic welfare; and democratic governance, which builds on the first VNR, released in 2016. It identifies increased attention to social development – framed as a principle of “leaving no one behind” which foresees investing in young people; decentralized development; going green with energy production and consumption.
The document also notes that the achievement of the SDGs is hampered by the lack of security – the context of the Russian-occupation of its two regions – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia, which causes grave humanitarian problems for the local population.
The VNR highlighted despite growth in Georgia’s real GDP, and notable decrease of the absolute poverty over the past 10 years, the problem of inclusiveness of economic growth is persistent, reflected in relative poverty affecting 20-21% of the country’s population.
The report stresses that “Georgia considers human capital to be a key factor for achieving sustainable development and improving the welfare of the whole society,” adding that “education has been selected as one of the key priorities of the country’s development agenda.”
The document said that the quality of education and training service and the mismatch of the education to the labor market remain as common
problems of Georgia’s education system.
The VNR also highlighted that weak participation of youth and high rates of youth unemployment is a particularly challenging problem for the country. It noted that the proportion of youth (aged 15-24) not in education, employment or training was 27.9% in 2014, and 26.9% in 2018.
Speaking of employment and labor rights, the report mentioned that in 2019, the number of fatal cases in the workplace decreased by 24% yearly.
The document also said that Georgia aims to achieve equality in society through the protection of ethnic minority rights and the promotion of a society based on the principles of diversity and pluralism.
It also noted that the Government looks forward to delivering on its newly adopted policy document on sexual orientation and gender identity, which “sets out to combat hate crimes, raise awareness about sexual orientation and gender identity, and deliver services tailored to LGBTQI+ needs.”
The document concluded that fulfilling the reform agenda is only possible amid peace and stability. It said that while the government seeks peaceful solutions to end Russian occupation – representing an existential threat to Georgia’s statehood – stronger international involvement is needed to achieve lasting peace and security.