‘Guterres called Tatarstan an example of how Sustainable Development Goals could be achieved’
Tatars at the UN Headquarters: Rustam Minnikhanov on how to improve the quality of life in other countries following Tatarstan’s example
Tatarstan authorities have delivered a speech at the UN Headquarters for the first time and presented the republic as a successful local project to spread its experience and knowledge to regions all over the world. This also should help achieve the goal of the UN: to improve the quality of life of the population of the Earth by 2030. President of the republic Rustam Minnikhanov presented our region as an example of interreligious harmony and cooperation. Head of the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency Taliya Minullina explained why Tatarstan could become a laboratory to spread the best practices, named three key ultimate goals the Tatarstan authorities were ready to achieve by 2030. UN Secretary General António Guterres whom Minnikhanov invited to Kazan called Tatarstan an example of how sustainable development goals could be achieved in other countries. Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent followed how Tatars showed themselves off to the world and how their successes were evaluated by UN member states.
Rustam Minnikhanov invites UN secretary general to Tatarstan
President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov paid a business visit to New York on Sunday and Morning. The visit included meetings with UN Secretary General António Guterres, Permanent Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the UN in the UN Security Council Vasily Nebenzya. Immediately upon arrival, the Tatarstan leader also talked with activists of the American Tatar Association (about 3,500 our compatriots live in the USA).
On Monday, Rustam Minnikhanov met with representatives of US business circles with the support of the U.S.–Russia Business Council — an association that represents commercial and investment interests of Russian and American companies and members in bilateral commercial relationships — for round-table talks. Ultimately, before giving a speech at the UN Headquarters Minnikhanov met with UN Secretary General António Guterres, told him about the republic’s accomplishments and assured that Tatarstan as one of the Russian regions attached great importance to the cooperation with the UN and its related institutions. According to Aleksey Borisov, at the meeting with the UN secretary general, the Tatarstan president personally invited António Guterres to Tatarstan.
Sustainable Development Goals and Tatarstan
The report Regions of the Russian Federation: Republic of Tatarstan — Sustainable Development Goals with Vasily Nebenzya, First Vice Chairman of the UN Association of Russia Aleksey Borisov and head of the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency Taliya Minullina was presented at the UN Headquarters. Rustam Minnikhanov and the head of the TIDA became representatives of the third Russian region in the UN after Moscow and Sverdlovsk Oblast.
The speech was about the so-called Sustainable Development Goals, or just DG, adopted at the UN Assembly General 4,5 years ago, on 25 September 2015 within the Resolution 70/1. They include a wide range of global issues that both developing and developed countries face. Some of the priority goals on the list are No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-Being, Quality Education, Clean Water and Sanitation, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth. The goals are to be achieved by 2030. A separate programme Russian Regions and UN Sustainable Development Goals is a local tool for promotion of national projects in the UN system and boon to improve the image and investment attractiveness of Russian regions.
“Guterres called Tatarstan an example of how Sustainable Development Goals could be achieved in other countries”
Presenting Tatarstan at the headquarters, Vasily Nebenzya called it one of the most actively developing regions, moreover, with unique, multi-ethnic culture. He noted that Tatarstan in the last years had been very active on the international stage too hosting a number of global events including the Universiade, FINA World Championships and FIFA WC. The permanent ambassador of Russia to the UN added that Tatarstan was in the top 5 Russian regions. But most importantly, according to him, the republic demonstrates successful solutions to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, particularly by improving the quality of life of Tatarstan residents at local level.
“Guterres called Tatarstan an example of how Sustainable Development Goals could be achieved in other countries,” Vasily Nebenzya claimed. “Millions of Tatarstan residents live in harmony, two different religions — Islam and Orthodox Christianity — coexist, it is a role model of coexistence of people who have different cultures and religions. Guterres offered to share the Tatarstan experience of such coexistence and interaction with other UN member states.”
Minnikhanov: “Blockchain, artificial intelligence — who can make this all today? Can we? We can’t, the youth can”
In his presentation, Rustam Minnikhanov admitted that the Organisation of United Nations was “a global union of states that has no equals in legitimacy, representativeness and universality”. While 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals have already been echoed in the Social and Economic Development Strategy of the Republic of Tatarstan through 2030. According to the report Russian Regions and UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2018, he reminded that Tatarstan was in the top 5 in the national rating in the creation of comfortable conditions for regional development. Minnikhanov noted that Tatarstan’s competitiveness was mainly determined by the creation of an innovative economy based on world experience.
“Because the youth are our active force, the foundation of the future. Blockchain, artificial intelligence — who can make this all today? Can we? We can’t, the youth can, only young people are good at some things,” he then explained the attention to the youth in Tatarstan answering questions of representatives of different UN member states. “We choose the youth and hire them in our government.”
Minnikhanov presented Tatarstan as example of interreligious harmony and cooperation in the UN
The head of the republic considers that growth of the population’s income, creation of jobs, rise in workforce productivity, staff training are the priority of social and economic development. In general, this includes an opportunity for development for all Tatarstan residents to get additional education and obtain new skills regardless of their age and physical condition. Briefly characterising the state and economy of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov put an example of the republic that occupied just 2,4% of Russian agricultural fields but produced 4,6% of all Russian produce in the end. He noted that Tatarstan was an industrial centre of Russia at the crossing of roads connecting the east and west, north and south of the country.
Among priorities, Minnikhanov focused on education. He assured the representatives of the organisation’s member states who gathered at the UN Headquarters that Tatarstan had already created conditions to get a quality education during their lifetime. He also said that Tatarstan and Kazan had repeatedly hosted international events since 2013, from the World Summer Universiade in 2013 and FINA World Championships in 2015 to the Confederations Cup in 2017 and six FIFA WC matches in 2018. This, in turn, attracted 300,000 tourists to Tatarstan in 2018 only, almost 200,000 of whom were foreigners. And last year Kazan hosted WorldSkills competition.
“Tatarstan pursues a targeted policy based on keeping the balance of interests of all national and religious groups of the population, first of all, the Muslims and Orthodox Christians,” Rustam Minnikhanov claimed.
He put an example of the revival of cultural sites and religious holy places — ancient Bolgar and Island City of Sviyazhsk, reconstruction of the Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral in the Virgin Monastery. The Tatarstan authorities’ long-term work in this area allowed adding Bolgar, the Assumption Cathedral and Sviyazhsk monastery to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List (a UN organisation). Nowadays the project that is implemented today is the creation of Bolgarian Islamic Academy, which is to become “the leading scientific, educational and spiritual centre of Islam in the Russian Federation”.
Tatarstan to become hub and laboratory to spread its best practices around the world
Representative of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Aleksandr Trepelkov confirmed to the members of the organisation that Tatarstan, indeed, was considered one of the most developed Russian regions and reminded them that a year earlier the Tatarstan Investment Develop Agency received the UN’s award for successes in attracting investments to the region. According to Trepelkov, Guterres’s idea was to spread the best local, regional practices around the world, infecting other countries and their regions with ambitions and innovations.
Precisely localisation is the gimmick of the Sustainable Development Goals, therefore, regional governments in all countries (like the Tatarstan government in Russia) can make a huge contribution to the potential achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. The best regions must become in this sense a kind of hubs and laboratories.
Trepelkov offered the president of Tatarstan to sign the so-called Voluntary Local Review Declaration. New York was the first to issue it in September 2019 having offered local and regional governments around the world to officially assume the responsibility for declaring successes on the spot, achieving Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, Tatarstan has many things to learn — from the creation of innovation centres to effective transport systems, health care and support for entrepreneurship. Because by the UN’s estimates, 70% of all the population of the Earth will live in cities creating 85% of the world economy. Precisely cities could be and must participate in environmental programmes reducing hydrocarbon emissions according to the Paris accord.
Three Tatarstan pillars by 2030: developed medicine and environment, social infrastructure and housing, digital economy
In her report, Minullina enumerated all, according to her, strong points and sides of the republic from hosting KazanSummit dedicated to Islamic finance, halal industry, tourism, culture and even Islamic fashion to the installation of video cameras in public places for the sake of citizens’ safety (the lowest crime rate in the country in 2019 was in Tatarstan, she noted) and the construction of Innopolis, “the youngest city in Tatarstan”. And it goes without saying that she didn’t help but talk about sport:
“I hope that everybody here loves physical education. For instance, I play badminton, Rustam Minnikhanov plays hockey. Kazan is general is the sports capital of Russia. Thousands of sports venues were built thanks to international events such as the Universiade and the FIFA WC, today they are available, and ordinary residents of the republic use them.”
According to her, the Tatarstan authorities set a goal of achieving further successes by 2030. Firstly, developed public health care and medicine, environmental protection, organic food. Secondly, accessible and comfortable dwelling, social infrastructure, transport for every resident of Tatarstan. And, finally, the creation of a successful digital economy. And it “isn’t just a declaration”, the government of Tatarstan, she assured the UN representatives, there is a step-by-step plan with deadlines.
“We seem not to have oceans,” Minullina noted looking at the list of UN goals (she means the 14th goal Life Below Water). “Actually, there are even two oceans. Firstly, it is an ocean of opportunities for the population and our partners, secondly, it is an ocean of joy you will feel if you come to Tatarstan. We will be glad to see you. We are inviting you to cooperation.”
Tatarstan learns from others — third party learns from Tatarstan
Flattered and shining with joy Rustam Minnikhanov wasn’t able to thank everybody (“I have never thought I would get there, I have seen the Headquarters only on TV”) but separately mentioned those countries Tatarstan successfully cooperated with: Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Qatar (“we try to come to mutual understanding), Saudi Arabia. He offered the latter to hold a bilateral event in 2020. The Tatarstan president noted that as the republic’s projects became part of successful regional projects of the Russian Federation and then spread to other regions, Tatarstan itself borrows experience in other countries. For instance, functionaries are annually sent to study to Singapore and Silicon Valley, big experience of interregional cooperation was obtained in China, which Kazan uses today in relationships with, for instance, Tomsk.
“Such people as I are needed. I grew up in Kazan, I invested in education myself to become successful. I am just an element of a big effective system. Tatarstan is a strong region in the country, a donor, but we should make every region unique. I am sure that every Russian region has things to offer to others, as we learn from others,” Taliya Minullina concluded the presentation.
“But you have omitted something in the report. I would advise everybody to go to Tatarstan and Kazan. You wouldn’t regret!” Nebenzya claimed at the end of the meeting.