Sustainable Development Goals

The UN and the Government, partners in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Turkmenistan


The United Nations agencies in Turkmenistan began in 2013 to advocate to the government about the importance of the emerging agenda on sustainable development goals (SDGs). This advocacy included several events between 2013- 2015 at national and sub- national levels involving the government, other state institutions, universities, schools and the youth. As part of this advocacy Turkmenistan volunteered to take part in a number of global initiatives on defining the focus of the SDGs. Their ideas were included in the global report “Voices:  The World We Want”. The launching of this report became the turning point for the start of a strong partnership between the government of Turkmenistan and the UN agencies to work together to ensure the SDGs agenda became part of Turkmenistan’s national development agenda.

High level commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals                  

At the UN Summit in 2015, the Government of Turkmenistan extended its full support to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and by so doing, gave life to the national SDG rollout process.

Defining the process of the rollout of the Sustainable Development Goals

In October 2015, the UN and the Government of Turkmenistan jointly agreed on a 3-stage roll-out process namely:

1) Assessing what SDGs were relevant to Turkmenistan, i.e. prioritization,

2)  Planning to integrate the SDGs into national and sector programs and plans to allow   implementation to begin,

3)  Designing a system to measure SDG progress over the next 15 years.  

The details on the implementation phase were set out in the 5-year Program Partnership for Development (PFD), 2016- 2020, signed between the government and UN agencies in April 2016.

Assessing which SDGs were relevant to Turkmenistan

The nationalization process started in October 2015 with establishing 17 technical working groups (one group per goal).  These groups were made up of staff from line ministries, academic institutions, and NGOs, co-chaired by government and the UN.  Several meetings were conducted in order to explain and understand what the SDGs were about.

These meetings culminated in March 2016 with 17 days of consultations to discuss in depth each goal (one day per goal), the corresponding targets and indicators to agree which ones would be recommended for formal adoption and implementation.

The discussions resulted in a set of 17 SDGs being recommended for adoption.  On 20th September, the Government of Turkmenistan formally adopted a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 148 targets (121 adopted without any modification) and 194 indicators (109 adopted without any modification) to be implemented over the next 15 years. This approved list of SDGs provides a framework for cooperation between development partners and Turkmenistan over the next 15 years. The approval marked the completion of the first stage of the three-stage SDG implementation process adopted in Turkmenistan. 

Integrating SDGs into national plans and programs, to allow implementation start 

In 2015, UNDP began providing support to the Ministry of Economy and Development on the process of integrating some of the SDGs, targets and indicators into the Presidential socio - economic plan 2017- 2021.  It is now agreed that a select number of SDG targets and indicators will be integrated into the President’s plan so that the implementation of SDGs can begin in earnest.  Simultaneously, UN agencies have started to work with their partner line ministries to plan the integration of some SDG into their sector programs and 2017 plans.

Designing and establishing an overall SDG monitoring system 

Acknowledging the principle that, ‘if you cannot measure, you cannot implement’, the UN is supporting the National State Statistics Committee in designing an overall SDG monitoring system. This system will involve line ministries in measuring the progress in implementing SDGs over the next 15 years. A proposed model of a system is now being considered by the government.  Once the design is approved, the UN agencies will be work with line ministries to assist them to establish it.

Overall SDG coordination mechanism

Given the government’s commitment to having a “whole of government approach” to SDGs, the UN and the Government developed a mechanism for overall coordination.  The Cabinet of Ministers has now approved the first stage of this coordination mechanism through the establishment of an inter-ministerial technical committee at Deputy Minister level, chaired by the Ministry of Economy and Development.  The next stage will involve establishing a specific department in the Ministry to focus on SDGs so as to ensure effective coordination and monitoring of the whole SDGs process.

Lessons learned to date

1.   Advocacy: Give time to advocacy on what the SDGs are about before starting to undertake SDG implementation

2.   A champion for SDGs: Identify a champion who can vigorously promote SDGs in the country.

3.  Process:  Define a clear process for each of the stages of SDG rollout so that all stakeholders agree their roles in advance.

4.  Government ownership: Ensure government ownership through joint SDG UN- Government technical working groups.

5.   UN technical support: Ensure that the UN provides technical support on all 17 SDGs, targets and indicators at the assessment of relevance/prioritization stage, regardless of the mandates of the UN agencies present in the country.  This allows the government to critically review all SDGs without being influenced by the mandates of the UN agencies.  The UN agencies can, when planning for the later stages of integration, implementation and measurement, provide targeted support according to their particular mandates.

6.    Common UN agency approach: Ensure that all UN agencies have a common approach and speak as one and are also highly committed to the SDG agenda.

7.    Quality Data: Support the design and establishment of an effective SDG monitoring system as a key component of the SDG implementation process and start this at an early stage of SDG rollout.

8.    Visibility: Give high visibility to the work achieved nationally and internationally using every form of social media as well as traditional communication methods.

9.    Take part in a global mechanism:  Engage in the global process to provide motivation.

10.  A whole-of-government approach:  A whole-of-government approach is vital to ensure the successful coordination of the SDGs. 

What is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?

On 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit — officially came into force.  Over the next fifteen years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.


The SDGs build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. The new Goals are unique in that they call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and addresses a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.


While the SDGs are not legally binding, governments are expected to take ownership and establish national frameworks for the achievement of the 17 Goals.  Countries have the primary responsibility for follow-up and review of the progress made in implementing the Goals, which will require quality, accessible and timely data collection.  Regional follow-up and review will be based on national-level analyses and contribute to follow-up and review at the global level.



How is Turkmenistan rolling out SDGs?

Following the global adoption of the SDGs the UN System in Turkmenistan together with the Government agreed a 3-stage process to roll-out SDGs. See  the details of the 3 stages under UNCT work. Stage 1 is complete. It included 17 days of consultations, (one goal per day) with relevant ministries to identify what  SD goals, targets and indicators to be adopted for implementation in Turkmenistan. Click the SDG progress document to read about the achievements from Stage 1 and the press releases that capture the exciting consultations over the 17 days. Stage 2 has begun which is about integrating the agreed goals, targets and indicators into nationals plans and programs. 



What are the Global Goals about?