United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was established on 28 March 1947 by the United Nations Economic and Social Council to develop economic activities and strengthen economic ties within the UNECE region and between this region and the rest of the world. The UNECE is one of the five regional economic commissions of the United Nations.
The executive body of the UNECE is the Session of the Commission, which takes place every two years. Fifty six states, including countries of Europe, the USA, Canada, Turkey, Israel, the states of Central Asia are members of the UNECE. The UNECE headquarters is located in Geneva. H.E. Ms. Olga Algayerova (Slovakia) is the Executive Secretary of the Commission.
The UNECE implements measures to analyze economic and technological potentials, to develop recommendations aimed to settle regional challenges of economic development.
The UNECE contributes to the implementation of SDGs through transforming global objectives into norms, guidelines, standards and conventions, conducting reviews and studies, developing capacity and creating conditions for cooperation with the private sector and civil society.
In April 2019, at the 68th session of the Commission Belarus (represented by H.E. Mr. Yury Ambrazevich, Permanent Representative of Belarus in Geneva) was elected as a Chair of the UNECE for the period to 2021. The Belarusian delegation was headed by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus. In his statement, at the high-level segment Minister urged countries to strengthen economic integration and trade relations in the pan-European space. Following the session, a political declaration was adopted to support the future activities of the UNECE in the areas of sustainable cities, sustainable use of natural resources, sustainable mobility and smart interconnectivity, measuring and monitoring progress towards the SDGs. On the sidelines of the 68th session, UNECE hosted the event “Day of Cities”.
When exercising its chairmanship in the UNECE, Belarus advocates maintaining the integrity and practical orientation of the UNECE mandate while ensuring that the interests of all UNECE member states are taken into account. Belarus proposed an initiative on how to improve certain aspects of the UNECE's work and to make more efficient use of its expert potential. Together with the UNECE membership, Belarus formulated proposals on mechanisms for the systematic unification of efforts of all UNECE committees and working groups around a cross-cutting topic for the next 69th session of the Commission on 20-21 April 2021 in Geneva. In February 2020, the UNECE Executive Committee approved the topic “Promotion Circular Economy and Sustainable use of Natural Resources in the UNECE region” as such a theme.
In March — April 2020, under the leadership of H.E. Mr. Yury Ambrazevich, Permanent Representative of Belarus in Geneva, the UNECE member states held a series of informal consultations and approved on a Special procedure for the work of the UNECE Executive Committee and its sectoral committees for the period of COVID-19.
On 15 May 2020, H.E. Mr. Yury Ambrazevich in his capacity as a chairperson of the UNECE took part in the Eurasian session of the International Forum of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, which was devoted to the topic “Promoting Eurasian Economic Integration: a Factor of Business Cooperation in the Strategy for Development". In his address to participants of the Forum, Yury Ambrazevich informed about the possibilities of using the Commission's instruments for the development of the economies of the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union, about the promising areas of work of the Eurasian business on the margins of the UNECE working groups, as well as on the directions how to participate in international technical assistance projects of the Organization.
On 26-27 October 2016, an international conference “Laying the foundation in the UNECE region for economic integration and sustainable development towards 2030” was held in Minsk. During this event Belarus promoted the “integration of integrations” initiative which is devoted to the interaction of integration processes and structures in the UNECE region. UNECE Executive Secretary H.E. Mr. Christian Bach, as well as representative of EAEU and the EU member states took part in the event.
H.E. Ms. Olga Algayerova visited Minsk on 21-22 February 2018 to participate in the Minsk forum of Sustainable Development Goals Coordinators “Building a Partnership to Underpin National Sustainable Development Solutions”. As a result of the Minsk forum, which was attended by H.E. Ms. Amina Mohammed, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, the Chair’s Summary of the Regional SDG Coordination Leaders Forum was adopted.
The Belarusian delegation participates in the annual Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, during which participants review the implementation of the SDGs at the national, regional and global levels. In the RFSD 2018, the Belarusian delegation was headed by H.E Ms. Marianna Shchotkina, Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus and the National Coordinator for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms. Laryssa Belskaya, Director General of the Department for Multilateral Diplomacy of Belarus Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reparesented Belarus in the Forum 2019 and urged membership to support the Belarusian initiative to develop cooperation between the national coordinators on SDGs implementation. On the margins of the Forum, the Belarusian side organized a thematic event “Networking for the National SDGs Coordinators”, which was attended by the UNECE Executive Secretary Ms. Olga Algayerova. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Regional Sustainable Development Forum was held in a remote format, where Belarus was represented by the Permanent Mission in Geneva.
Around 70 Belarusian delegations annually participate in sessions of the UNECE committees, working groups, conferences and other events.
Belarus takes an active participation in the work of the UNECE sectoral committees.
Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness and Public-Private Partnerships
UNECE in cooperation with Belarusian experts implemented two Innovation Performance Reviews of Belarus. In February 2018, the State Committee on Science and Technology of Belarus and the UNECE signed a Memorandum on Implementation of the Recommendations of the Second review on innovative performance. According to the document, the parties agreed to develop cooperation in areas of bilateral interest, including on the issues related to integrated forecasting of scientific and technological development. The implementation of the Memorandum was considered during the meeting of Mr. Alexander Shumilin, Chairman of the State Committee on Science and Technology of Belarus, and Ms. Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the Commission, on 1 October 2019, in Geneva.
With the participation of Belarus the Committee launched a regional project “Subregional Innovation Policy Review” for countries of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.
UNECE implemented technical assistance project on the development of public-private partnership in the Republic of Belarus. As a result, parties selected seven infrastructure projects for the construction and modernization of roads. With the support of UNECE, Belarus established the Public-Private Partnership Center.
The delegation of Belarus headed by Ms. Irina Kalenchak, Director the Department of Investment Policy of the Ministry of Economy, took part in the fourth International Forum on Public-Private Partnership on 7-9 May 2019 in Geneva. The Belarusian delegation informed participants about the possibilities of attracting investments using PPPs mechanism in the development of the social infrastructure of the Industrial Park “Great Stone”, including the introduction of elements of a “smart” city on its territory.
On 2 July 2019, a Forum for Regional Cooperation and Development “Open Park the Great Stone — an example of global opportunities” was held in the Belarusian-Chinese Industrial Park “The Great Stone” in the context of the “Belt and Way” Initiative. The head of the UNECE Cooperation and Partnership Unit Mr. Geoffrey Hamilton participated in the event and made a statement at the round table of the Forum.
During the meeting of the UNECE Working Party on Public-Private Partnerships on 3-4 December 2019 in Geneva, Belarus was elected as Vice-Chairman of its Bureau, which allows to more actively promote country's PPP initiatives at the Commission.
On 12 September 2018, the International Conference “Role of PPP projects in achieving of Sustainable Development Goals and improving people’s well-being” was held in Minsk. The event was organized by the National Agency for Investment and Privatization together with the Ministry of Economy, UNECE and other agencies.
Committee on Environmental Policy.
Belarus is a member to five environmental conventions adopted under the auspices of the UNECE. Taking into account the provisions of the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) and the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention), Belarus implement a project on construction of Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant.
The Commission together with the Ministry of Natural Resources of Belarus prepared the third Environmental Performance Review, which contains recommendations for further improvements of the environmental policy, national legislation on the environment issues and the effectiveness of Belarus' environmental policy.
During the fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, which was held from 19 through 21 November 2019 in Belgrade, Belarus was elected as a Chairman of the Meeting of the Parties for the period 2020-2022.
The delegation of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Belarus headed by Mr. Aleksander Korbut, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Belarus, took part in the 39th session of the Executive Body of the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution on 9 – 13 December 2019, in Geneva.
With technical and organizational assistance from the UNECE, the Ministry of Natural Resources of Belarus launched a strategic environmental assessment for the project “Water Resources Management Strategies for Climate Change until 2030”.
Steering Committee on Trade Capacity and Standards
Belarus is a member of the Bureau of the UNECE Steering Committee on Trade Capacity and Standards and promotes initiatives that are aimed at practical assistance in removing barriers to trade and developing economic cooperation in accordance with the UNECE mandate.
The Commission together with Belarusian experts conducted a study “Elimination of regulatory and procedural barriers to trade in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan”, the results of which will be used to develop the National System of Paperless Trade in Belarus and the development of the “single stop” system. Provisional outcomes of the study were presented at the 5th session of the Steering Committee in May 2019 in Geneva. Previous study was published by the Secretariat in December 2012.
On 10 – 11 December 2018, the regional seminar “The Single Window: Interoperability, data sharing and digital trade” was held in Minsk under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, the Ministry of Communications of Belarus in cooperation with the UNECE and the UN Center for Trade Facilitation and Business Operations (UN / CEFACT). The management of the Center for Identification Systems of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus takes part in events organized under the auspices of UN / CEFACT.
In the context of Belarus’ accession to the WTO, the UNECE conducted a comprehensive study on the availability of Belarus to fulfill obligations arising from the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation. On 12-13 December 2018, in cooperation with Belarus Customs Committee a seminar “Implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation” took place in Minsk.
The delegation of the State Committee on Standardization of Belarus headed by Mr. Valentin Tataritsky, Chairman of the Committee, participated in the session of the UNECE Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardization Policies (WP.6) on 20 – 22 November 2019 in Geneva. Following the meeting, Belarus was re-elected to the Bureau of the Working Group as its Vice-Chairman for 2020-2021.
On 7 July 2020, Mr. Aleksei Bogdanov, Director of the Department for Foreign Economic Activities of the Ministry of Agriculture, held a video conference with Ms. Elisabeth Tuerk, Director of the UNECE Department for Economic Cooperation and Trade. During the call participants discussed promising areas for expanding cooperation between Belarus and the UNECE Working Group on Agricultural Quality Standards (WP.7).
Committee on Sustainable Energy.
The Department for Energy Efficiency of the State Standardization Committee of Belarus actively cooperates with the Committee in the areas of city energy efficiency, development of renewable energy sources.
Belarus follows UNECE regulations to ensure the energy efficiency of buildings and structures.
Belarus is included in the list of countries participating in the international technical assistance project under the auspices of UNECE “Sustainable Energy for All in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia”. The main objective of the project is to strengthen the national capacity of countries with transition economies to develop national action plans on sustainable energy in the context of the sustainable development agenda.
A delegation of the Department of Energy Efficiency of the State Standardization Committee of Belarus participated in the International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development on 7 – 8 October 2019 in Bangkok.
The Belarusian delegation headed by Mr. Mikhail Malashenko, Deputy Chairman of the State Standardization Committee — Director of the Energy Efficiency Department, took part in the 26th session of the Committee on 26-28 September 2017 in Geneva.
Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management
National reviews on the housing policies and land management of UNECE are of practical importance for Belarus. These reviews allow for further adjust domestic policies in the field of housing and land management.
The Commission together with the Ministry of Architecture and Constructions of Belarus finalized preparation of the National Profile of the Housing Policy of the Republic of Belarus with specific recommendations for its improvement.
The Profile was presented on 4 October 2019 in Geneva at the 80th session of the Committee, which was attended by Mr. Oleg Shvets, Deputy Minister of Architecture and Construction of Belarus. The head of Belarus delegation presented report on improving the national housing policy and urban development, noting that the recommendations of the Country Profile will be taken into account when implementing a project in 2020 with UNECE to build a residential complex using energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies in Grodno. Following the meeting of the Committee, Belarus was re-elected to the Bureau for 2020-2021.
On 27 – 28 February 2019 in Geneva, a delegation of the National Cadastre Agency headed by Mr. Andrey Philipenko, Director General of the Agency, took part in the 11th session of the UNECE Working Party on Land Management. During the session, Belarus was elected to the Bureau of the Group, which will allow for possible to use the potential of the UNECE to exchange best practices in land administration.
On 20 — 24 May 2019, the international workshop “Towards the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda until 2030: Housing Management, Energy Efficiency of Buildings and Sustainable Urban Development” was organized jointly by the Ministry of Construction and Architecture, UNDP Office in Minsk, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Academy of Management under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus.
Conference of European Statisticians.
The National Statistical Committee of Belarus together with the UNECE is working to improve national statistics system and to ensure its comparability with international practices, as well as on compilation of statistical indicators that would reflect the implementation of the SDGs at the regional and global levels.
Representatives of Belstat actively participate in the activities of the Commission on such issues as national accounts, sustainable development, demographic situation, business activities registries, migration, consumer price indices, population and housing inventory census.
During the third meeting of experts on statistics in the field of SDGs, which took place 15 — 18 April 2019 in Geneva, Vice-Chairman of the National Statistics Committee Ms. Elena Kukharevich presented the best practices of Belarus in creating a national reporting platform for SDGs indicators.
On 18 – 20 June 2018 in Geneva, Ms. Zhanna Vasilevskaya, Deputy Chairperson of the National Statistics Committee, took part in the 66th plenary session of the UNECE Conference of European Statisticians. The agenda of the event included consideration of issues on expanding the coverage of national statistics, presentation of statistical data, establishment of partnerships between statistical bodies and users of statistics, as well as the on compilation of statistical indicators on the implementation of the SDGs.
The delegation of Belarus participated in the Regional Conference on Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development, which was organized by the UNECE and the Regional Office of the United Nations Population Fund for the Eastern Europe and Central Asia on 1-2 October 2018 in Geneva. Minister of Labor and Social Protection Ms. Iryna Kostevich took part in the Conference as its Co-chair. In 2019, UNECE developed a Roadmap on Aging for Belarus. Taking into account the recommendations of the Commission’s experts, a draft National Strategy “Decent Longevity — 2030” was elaborated in Belarus. The Belarusian side is actively involved in the activities of the UNECE Working Group on Aging.
Representatives of the Ministry of Labor of Belarus participated in the meeting of the UNECE member States on the preparation of the Regional Review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 1995 on gender equality and the empowerment of women (29 – 30 October 2019, in Geneva). Belarus chaired the segment of the Conference “Education for Gender Equality: A Powerful Tool for Transformation”.
Inland Transport Committee.
Belarus acceded to the twenty-three transport conventions within UNECE.
Belarus implements UNECE technical regulations on the production of motor vehicles, road safety regulation, and the development of inland water transport in Belarus.
On 20 – 23 February 2018, Mr. Alexander Shishko, Deputy Minister of Transport, took part in the work of the 80th session of the UNECE Inland Transport Committee, which resulted in the approval of a draft Strategy on the Priorities and Directions of work of the Committee until 2030.
Representatives of the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Committee for Standardization of Belarus take an active part in the specialized working groups of the Inland Transport Committee, including on road safety issues, admission of automated vehicles, as well as the harmonization of technical regulations for wheeled vehicles.
On the margins of the UNECE Working Party on Transport Trends and Economics, the Belarusian side proposed an initiative on the uniform and non-discriminatory application of the European Agreement concerning the work of vehicle crews. The secretariat and member countries were invited to develop an agreed mechanism for monitoring and reviewing measures taken by national governments that affect the implementation of multilateral transport conventions, and to create a platform for the prompt consideration of such measures in order to ensure the smooth operation of multilateral conventions under the auspices of the UNECE.
Belarus supported UNECE’s initiative to establish a Road Safety Trust Fund, which was launched on 12 April 2018.
In August 2020, Belarus joined the M324 multilateral agreement of the contracting parties to the European Agreement on the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road, which is aimed at ensuring the smooth movement of goods, including medical supplies, in the European region during the COVID-19 period.
Committee on Forests and Forest Industry.
The delegation of the Ministry of Forestry of Belarus headed by Mr. Valentin Shatravko, First Deputy Minister of Forestry, took part in a joint session of UNECE Committee on Forests and Forest Industry and the FAO European Forestry Commission on 4 – 7 November 2019 in Geneva. On the sidelines of the event, Mr. Shatravko held a meeting with UNECE Executive Secretary Ms. Olga Algaerova, and delivered remarks at the thematic session “Financing of a circulating economy based on the use of wood — World Bank experience in the Europe and Central Asia region”.
On 27 – 29 January 2020 in Geneva, representatives of the Ministry of Forestry took part in informal consultations of the members of the UNECE Executive Committee on negotiations with regard to the preparation of a legally binding agreement on forests in Europe.