Overcoming middle-income countries’ challenges in advancing the 2030 Agenda at the 2023 High-Level Political Forum

Afreen Akhter
Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia at the State Department
New York, New York
July 13, 2023


Thank you for allowing the opportunity to speak on behalf of the United States. My name is Afreen Akhter, and I’m a Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia at the State Department.

The United States is committed to the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, grounded in our determination to uphold the dignity of every human being. We also resolutely support middle-income countries as they strive to achieve these goals.

The topics of focus today, including clean energy and climate, innovation and infrastructure, and sustainable cities, are key priorities of the administration. South and Central Asia, the region I cover, is home to a diverse set of middle-income countries. From the pristine beaches of Sri Lanka to the majestic peaks of Tajikistan, we are supporting these goals every day – through initiatives large and small.

For instance, we are providing a $500 million grant through our Millennium Challenge Corporation to build hydropower lines in Nepal. This will not only increase Nepal’s access to clean energy, it will expand clean energy access across Nepal’s borders. Similarly, in partnership with India and Bhutan, we’ve mobilized more than $600 million in clean energy investments for the Khoongchu hydroelectric project. The U.S. has also invested $500 million to support a solar module manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, India, boosting India’s solar production. We are also providing up to $17 million to expand Bangladesh’s access to clean energy and innovation in the clean energy economy. And we are working more closely with multilateral institutions like the Indian Ocean Rim Association on our shared goals of climate resilience, food security and global health — a message our Deputy Secretary underscored during his recent visit to

the IORA secretariat in Mauritius. These shared investments have catalyzed growth and increased prosperity across the region, which will pay dividends for generations to come.

In closing, I want to reiterate the United States’ strong support for middle income countries, as we realize our blueprint for prosperity and peace across the globe. We look forward to building on these partnerships in the years to come.