The 2020 GSPP Online International Conference on “Sustainable Development Goals in Central Asia and the Challenges of COVID-19” is held in Nur-Sultan on October 15-16, 2020.


The 2020 GSPP Online International Conference on “Sustainable Development Goals in Central Asia and the Challenges of COVID-19” is held in Nur-Sultan on October 15-16, 2020.

On October 15-16, 2020, the Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Public Policy (NU GSPP) held the 4th annual online international conference on “Sustainable Development Goals in Central Asia and the Challenges of COVID-19” in partnership with the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the Astana Civil Service Hub.

Researchers, academics, experts, civil service practitioners and students from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Russia, UK, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Canada, Slovenia, Singapore, Israel and the USA participated in the conference held online for the first time. 

Provost of the Nazarbayev University Ilesanmi Adesida made a welcoming speech: “We believe that whatever you will discuss during the conference with particular interest in Central Asia will be very useful for a global society as a whole.”

Dean of the NU GSPP Weng Tat Hui said: “The COVID-19 crisis has undoubtedly shaken deeply and extensively the ability and likelihood of achieving most if not all of the sustainable development goals. But there is also a realisation that the challenges in this crisis can be turned into opportunities. In the post-COVID world, more than ever before, the need for sound policies and good governance becomes even more critical, as governments and societies face policy choices to bridge the systemic gaps that have been exposed. There is a need for transformation in policy mindsets and practice to build accountable systems, adaptable institutions and security and sustainability of food, water, energy, health, transportation and urban systems drawing on technological and digital innovations. The 4th annual GSPP conference has been therefore precisely devoted to sustainable development goals in Central Asia and the challenges of COVID-19 to focus on the challenges and opportunities and the continued pursuit of different aspects of the SDGs in the COVID and post-COVID world.

Alikhan Baimenov, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Astana Civil Service Hub noted: “In their response to the crisis, governments are making swift decisions mainly in terms of short-term resource allocation. Yet, in this fast paced race for prompt solutions it is important to assure that long-term sustainable goals are not overlooked. Today, being under immense pressure, governments around the world – including central asian ones- have accumulated certain experiences in comprehensive and adequate responses. Yet, there is no universal roadmap for dealing with this pandemic. Therefore, it is important to enhance global collaboration and effective partnerships among all sectors and stakeholders gaining ever greater significance in disseminating best practices.”

Phoebe Koundouri, Chair of Sustainable Development (Economics and Econometrics) at the School of Economics, Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece and Vinod Thomas, Visiting Professor at the National University University of Singapore, Singapore presented keynote presentations. 

The conference included the following eight panel sessions: Climate, Environment and Human Development, Towards a water secure and sustainable recovery, Governance and Trust in the New Reality, organized in collaboration with Astana Civil Service Hub (ASCH), Poverty reduction and economic development, Policies, reforms, and natural resources in Central Asia, Climate action, energy transition and labor markets: Public policies and sectoral implications, Challenges of COVID-19 and Health management in Central Asia, Young Researchers, emerging research on SDGs – Policy and Governance and Health and Educational perspectives. The conference participants including young researchers shared their research outcomes, knowledge and experience and expanded partnership networks. 

For information:

GSPP. The Graduate School of Public Policy’s mission is improving the quality of life of the people of Kazakhstan and Central Asia by training leaders to improve governance through excellence in teaching, research and executive development that focuses on key policy and leadership challenges. GSPP maintains a strong strategic partnership with the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. GSPP incorporates scientific research into its teaching to provide one of the most innovative and progressive master’s and PhD programs in the Central Asian region. GSPP’s degree programs include the Master in Public Policy, Master in Public Administration, and the PhD in Public Policy. In 2019 NU GSPP received formal accreditation from the European Association for Public Administration Accreditation (EAPAA).

LKYSPP. The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy is an autonomous postgraduate school of the National University of Singapore (NUS). The QS World University Rankings (2019) ranked NUS 11th in the world and 1st in Asia. It was formally launched on 4 August 2004 and named in honour of Singapore’s first and longest-serving Prime Minister. The School inherited the Policy Programme that NUS had set up with Harvard Kennedy School in 1992. Today, the LKY School offers five master’s degree programmes, a senior fellowship programme and a PhD programme, and has four research centres. The mission of the School is to be the leading global public policy school in Asia, developing thought leadership, improving standards of governance and transforming lives for a more sustainable world.

Astana Civil Service Hub. The Astana Civil Service Hub (ACSH), an initiative of the Government of Kazakhstan and the United Nations Development Programme, was established in March 2013 by 25 countries and 5 international organisations. Today, the Hub brings together 42 countries and more than 70 institutional partners. ACSH is a multilateral institutional platform for the continuous exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of civil service development, aiming at supporting governments in the region through fostering partnerships, capacity building and peer-to-peer learning development activities, and evidence-based solutions, informed by a comprehensive research agenda. The geographical range of participants stretches from the North America and Europe, through the CIS, the Caucasus and Central Asia to ASEAN countries, demonstrating that partnership for civil service excellence is a constant and universal need for all 

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