Turkmenistan and UNOPS: new landmarks of cooperation for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals

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The Editorial Office of the “Foreign Policy and Diplomacy of Turkmenistan” magazine interviewed Ms. Freya von Groote, Director of the UNOPS Multi-country Office in Austria, who told about the key vectors of cooperation of UNOPS with Turkmenistan.

United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is the operational arm of the United Nations implementing unit projects for the UN system. What are the priority tasks for UNOPS?

As a member of the United Nations family, UNOPS has a mandate, expertise and experience in providing project, infrastructure and procurement support and services to Governments, UN agencies and other development partners.

UNOPS is a unique organization among the UN system. It does not receive any core contributions from Member States, but entirely depends on projects on a full cost recovery basis. This allows UNOPS to remain flexible and agile to optimally meet the needs of partners quickly and efficiently.

UNOPS has been growing significantly over the past year. In 2020, we implemented over 1,000 projects in over 80 countries around the globe, and in total, delivered over 2.2 billion dollars of assistance. We also have vast experience in providing support to various partners in the Europe and Central Asia Region, and have been implementing a variety of projects, including to supply critical medical equipment and supplies, construct school facilities and provide technical assistance on climate change.

We are excited to now operate in Turkmenistan, and we look forward to working closely with the Government, the UN Country Team and other partners in facilitating Turkmenistan’s journey towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNOPS provides important assistance to countries in progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, including by providing expert skills. Tell us about the prospects for UNOPS cooperation with Turkmenistan in this context?

UNOPS is already working with the UN Country Team, and under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator, to identify ways in which it can partner with the Government, the rest of the UN system and other development partners to help implement the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework. Our projects and activities will focus on facilitating the achievement of the national development priorities and needs, and implemented in line with UN’s values and principles, as well as UNOPS’ drive for operational excellence.

More specifically, we will be exploring partnerships and initiatives in areas including health systems strengthening, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. UNOPS will offer its global expertise and experience in these areas and beyond to ensure that a variety of development projects are managed effectively, the relevant infrastructure assets are made available, and various essential goods and services are sourced and provided in a fair, transparent and cost-effective manner.

The UNOPS office has successfully started its activities in Turkmenistan. What are the joint projects in cooperation with the Government of Turkmenistan planned to be implemented in the first stages?

UNOPS will work in the coming weeks and months to strengthen Turkmenistan’s pandemic preparedness and health systems for the benefit of the country’s population and medical professionals. Thanks to the generous contribution of the Government of Japan, a strong global partner of UNOPS, we will deliver a 2.8 million USD initiative to this end until March 2022. UNOPS will closely coordinate and collaborate with the Government, as well as the World Health Organization, to procure and deliver medical equipment and supplies to approximately 15 hospitals and health centers. UNOPS will also ensure that medical staff is trained and warranty arrangements are put in place to optimize service delivery and sustainability.

What areas will be focused on activities of the UNOPS Office in Ashgabat?

Looking ahead, UNOPS will work with the UN system, the Government and other development partners, and make available our project, infrastructure and procurement services that are in line with our mandate as the operational arm of the UN.

We are confident that UNOPS and the expert support that we are able to provide through our mandate, will make strong contributions and allow us to maintain a long-term presence in your country.

How do you rate regional and international transport, energy and humanitarian initiatives and projects of Turkmenistan in the context of achieving the SDGs?

Effective transport and energy infrastructure and initiatives are becoming increasingly critical in ensuring the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the green transition that is required under the Paris Agreement.

Accordingly, these national needs and priorities are reflected under the respective development plans, and the UN system is working to facilitate their implementation through the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for Turkmenistan.

UNOPS looks forward to adding value to these efforts, and working with the Government and the UN system to add value in these areas in its mandate areas and expertise in project, infrastructure and procurement management. We stand ready to provide technical assistance, as well as avail management capacities to facilitate the effective delivery and expansion of existing and future initiatives.

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