SCO Summit Cements Strategic Vision for Eurasia’s Future

The 24th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) concluded on July 4 in Astana, Kazakhstan, marking a significant milestone in the organization’s evolution.

The 24th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) concluded on July 4 in Astana, Kazakhstan, marking a significant milestone in the organization’s evolution. The gathering of Eurasian powers resulted in the adoption of the Astana Declaration and the approval of 25 strategic documents, underscoring the SCO’s growing influence in shaping regional and global dynamics.

At the heart of the summit’s achievements was the endorsement of Kazakhstan’s proposed “Initiative on World Unity for a Just Peace, Harmony and Development”. This bold move signals the SCO’s ambition to play a more prominent role in fostering global stability and equitable international relations. The Astana Declaration explicitly invites the international community to join this initiative, reflecting the organization’s desire to expand its sphere of influence beyond its traditional borders.

The summit also saw the adoption of the SCO Development Strategy until 2035, a comprehensive roadmap that outlines the organization’s collective vision for the next decade. This strategy takes into account the recent inclusion of Belarus as a full member, highlighting the SCO’s expanding membership and growing geopolitical footprint.

Security concerns remained a top priority, with member states approving cooperation programs to combat terrorism, separatism, and extremism for the 2025-2027 period. The adoption of an Anti-Drug Strategy and its corresponding Action Program for the next five years further demonstrates the SCO’s commitment to addressing transnational threats.

Economic cooperation also featured prominently in the summit’s outcomes. The approval of an Economic Development Strategy Action Plan until 2030 and strategies for energy cooperation until 2030 underscore the SCO’s focus on fostering sustainable economic growth and energy security among its member states. The establishment of an Association of Investors aims to facilitate increased economic integration and cross-border investments within the SCO region.

Environmental concerns were not overlooked, with member states signing agreements on environmental protection cooperation and adopting statements on ensuring the safety of drinking water and sanitation, as well as promoting effective waste management. These initiatives reflect a growing awareness of the need to balance economic development with environmental sustainability.

The summit also addressed the critical issue of information security, with member states adopting an interaction plan on international information security issues. This move acknowledges the increasing importance of cybersecurity in an interconnected world and the need for coordinated efforts to address digital threats.

As the summit concluded, China assumed the SCO chairmanship for the next term, signaling a potential shift in focus and priorities for the organization. The designation of Qingdao as the SCO’s tourism and cultural capital for 2024-2025 highlights the organization’s efforts to promote cultural exchange and people-to-people connections among member states.

The outcomes of the 24th SCO summit demonstrate the organization’s evolving role as a multifaceted platform for cooperation in Eurasia. By addressing a wide range of issues from security and economics to environmental protection and cultural exchange, the SCO is positioning itself as a key player in shaping the future of the region and beyond.

As the international community watches closely, the implementation of these ambitious initiatives and strategies will be crucial in determining the SCO’s effectiveness in achieving its stated goals of promoting peace, stability, and equitable development across Eurasia.

Sabah Aslam
Sabah Aslam
Sabah Aslam is the Founder & Executive Director of Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR), and member visiting faculty Dept. of Peace & Conflict Studies, NUML, and School of Politics & IR, Quaid-I- Azam University, Islamabad.