Remarks by UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Musinga T. Bandora at the Government of Namibia – United Nations Country Team partnership forum in Walvis Bay

08 Oct 2013

I wish to start with expressing my profound gratitude to the Director General of the National Planning Commission, Mr. Tom Alweendo  for his welcome address and for sparing time from his very busy schedule to come and open this historic Forum. I wish to thank him for his leadership throughout the conceptualization and preparations of this Forum. I wish also to thank the officials from NPC, especially Mr Goeiemann and Ms. Mary Nangula who put in long hours of work and devotion to make this Forum a reality we are here to witness today.  In like manner I want to thank colleagues from the UN family who equally devoted time and effort –working with their Government counterparts to prepare this Forum. I would like to single out for mention the members of our Joint Technical Committee who worked tirelessly to interpret the spirit and vision of the new partnership and capture it in a policy framework that we have before this Forum for consideration and approval.

Last but not least I wish to acknowledge and welcome our facilitation team -Jacqueline Olweya, Varsha Redkar-Palepu Margaret, and Ernest Forster for their support as we begin on the crucial process of standing up our Partnerships Framework with the Government of Namibia.

Ladies and gentlemen

In May this year, I went to see the Director General of NPC to brief him about the outcome of the United Nations Country Team retreat and on the new strategic direction that we as the UN thought necessary and therefore were proposing. I wish to tell you that I left the meeting encouraged by his openness to the new thinking and his candor on the partnership between the government of Namibia and the UN Country Team and the challenges that we face.  In all however we were at one in recognizing that there was need for the UN support and partnership to evolve so as to respond more effectively to the current needs of the country.

I am happy that he made good on his word to set in motion an inter-ministerial process of consultation on the UNCT proposals. This led to the setting up of the Joint Technical Committee drawn from both the Government and the UN which in the course of the last four months has worked to prepare this Forum. We are therefore here today to take stock of the work done by the Joint technical Committee and chart a way forward.

Ladies and gentlemen

The need of a new strategic direction is rooted in the recognition that as the Namibian national and global development contexts have evolved- so too must the nature of UN partnership with the country.  This Forum gives us the opportunity to put that evolution in perspective and the new development challenges that it has spawned for the country. We hope this dialogue will culminate in a better appreciation of the nature of support Namibia needs to deliver its development vision as articulated in NDP4. Equally we hope that the Forum will launch a fresh perspective about the UN-so that the government and Civil society at large, are better able to know and appreciate the range of capacities and assets that the UN system-across our mandates- is able to bring to the table of partnership and how these can effectively support the implementation of NDP4 as well as the overall realization of Vision 2030. Above all we look forward to articulating the philosophical underpinnings of the new kind of partnership we wish to establish and the mechanisms, systems and institutional arrangements that will drive that partnership.

Ladies and gentlemen

The UN has been a partner to the country over two decades-bringing support to the formulation and implementation of the last three National Development Plans. Apart from individual agency work, we have also found common ground in the collaborative efforts under three United Nations Development Frameworks-which have mirrored the successive National Development Plans. In all these the UN has enjoyed the undivided support of the government. We are grateful to the government for the opportunity of partnership and for the support.

During this period we have faced challenges, learnt lessons and gained experience-on both sides. Some of the difficulties were raised at the various stakeholder consultations that have been held in the past.  Some of these were of perceptions, some on working methods and yet others in the instruments that drive our partnership.

In all however there was no doubt or prevarication on the need and importance of cooperation between the Government of Namibia and the UN. All the stakeholders saw a definite role for the UN and the advantages it presents. And where there were criticisms; these were well meaning and aimed at reinforcing the partnership.

In the main, the stakeholders saw areas where the UN has decided advantage especially in the   provision and facilitation of high quality technical expertise, Facilitation of multi-disciplinary approaches for addressing development challenges and of  South-South Cooperation, in promoting innovative public-private sector approaches to human, social and economic development financing, In monitoring implementation of key international Conventions and agreements, In knowledge generation and management as well as policy dialogue.

There was also a plea for the government to invest time in knowing and appreciating the range of capacities and assets that the UN system-across mandates- is able to bring to the table of partnership and how these can effectively support the implementation of its National development priorities. It was felt-and correctly that despite resources, Namibia still has development challenges that require partnership to resolve and that development requires more than just money. What Namibia needs the most now is not more money but skilled people in sufficient numbers, efficient systems and institutions as well as effective partnerships to make its resources deliver more development.

Ladies and gentlemen

That was the past and we take the lessons. The challenges we encountered must be addressed if we are to embark on and sustain a new journey of our partnership. Certainly we in the UN realize that there must be change in the way we do business-and I am happy that government shares in that view and hence the purpose and spirit of this Forum—to chart a new strategic direction!

It is gainsay that Namibia has enjoyed good economic growth over the years and has graduated to a middle income country. This is an achievement that must be celebrated. The more countries in Africa graduate out of statistical poverty- the quicker it sheds the image of a continent mired in endemic poverty. Certainly being an MIC engenders confidence and opens door and access to financing and direct foreign investments. Unfortunately, the MIC status does not fully explain poverty or prosperity. Most importantly it does not address the key question of who- has -what -in a country-which is central to the equity agenda. This is a development and governance issue and a challenge to all governments-Namibia included. And it needs to be addressed. In this respect I happily note that-building on the spirit and gains of the last three National Development Plans, NDP 4 is founded on and seeks to address the issue of equity-and therefore progressively bring the reality and meaning of a middle income country to the majority of Namibians.

Ladies and gentlemen

Becoming a middle income country presents Namibia with real opportunities but it changes fundamentally the philosophy and form of its cooperation with the UN-as with other development partners. We all need to understand and grasp the implications and lessons of the new environment.

The real opportunities before Namibia lay in the financial capacities that the country now commands and can dispose. This is evident in the considerable resources being channeled by the government into delivering services in key sectors such as education, health, HIV and AIDS, agriculture, water and infrastructure as well as poverty alleviation through economic empowerment and job creation programmes.

Notwithstanding, Namibia still has a long way to reverse the legacies of systemic and structural inequality of colonialism and apartheid. These will certainly require leadership- complemented by effective partnerships- new kind of partnerships-including with the UN. We can therefore not have the same philosophy, systems, processes and tools that we have used in the past to address the new situation and needs. The need therefore for a New Strategic compact. We recognize that the UN in Namibia needs a new Business Model-moving from Development Assistance to Development Partnership. We need to adapt our Partnership Framework, working methods, processes and tools to the new strategic imperative in Namibia-Working Smarter in an MIC environment and anchoring that partnership in the real strengths of the UN.

We have said time and again that the strength and relevance of the UN is not money. That space is reserved for the International Financial Institutions. The relevance and strengths of the UN are in its technical expertise, proven systems and institutions that work, its global reach and ability to connect countries to knowledge, and best practices, its impartiality and neutrality and tested convening capacities. This is what we bring to that table of partnership.

Another change factor in the development narrative is the global environment. The global economic crisis is shrinking the resource base for the UN as its major donors are compelled to re-direct attention away from foreign aid to domestic spending. Hence we recognize that we must maximize results from the use of diminishing  resources that is, “to do more with less”- focusing  more on results as opposed to processes.

Ladies and gentlemen

We see in this new strategic direction, a re-defined role for the UN in which the nature of its contribution to the partnership will be built on its comparative advantage.  We recognize that our role in support of development in Namibia requires rethinking-and being more responsive to the specific development needs based on our comparative advantage, and to focus on high-end value-adding activities that generate knowledge and deliver results.

Specifically this will include catalytic engagement in upstream policy support, advocacy, brokering and transfer of knowledge, national capacity development and consensus-building:-high-end value-adding activities that generate knowledge and deliver results. We will capitalise on the UN’s strengths in Namibia by working cross-sectorally and building links between different sectors in support of the governments own move towards more thematic based Goals.

Of course the over-riding vision is that of the Namibian nation as wet out in Vision 2030-and to that we in the UN draw reference and inspiration.  With that in mind, I wish to inform the participants that the U.N Country Team adopted Vision and Mission Statements-encapsulating the philosophy and essence of the new Strategic Direction in its partnership with the Government of Namibia. Our Vision is “To be the leading partner in Namibia’s pursuit of its national development vision and goals consistent with agreed standards and norms”

Equally our Mission Statement is, “The UN Delivering as One, uses its expertise to champion and support interventions aimed at addressing economic and social inequalities thus contributing to prosperity, dignity, peace and the full realisation of human rights”

Ladies and gentlemen

We are favoured by circumstances that this Partnership Forum is being held back to back with the Strategic Planning Retreat that will follow over the next three days. This coupling has given the opportunity to the participants-representing a wide array of government ministries and civil society to take part in this landmark Forum. From here we will be inspired by the new strategic direction when we work jointly through an analytical and inclusive nationally-led process to elaborate the new Partnership Framework and its programme pillars through which the United Nations system will bring its collective support to NDP 4 based on its comparative advantages. You will also look at the key issues of monitoring and evaluation and the critical landmarks and timelines for the competition of the United Nations Partnership Framework (UNPAF) Document.

Ladies and Gentlemen

This is a partnership and we all must play our parte for the New Strategic Compact to work.   As we proceed, and as we chart the new vision of moving from Development Assistance to Development Partnership we will look to government for ownership and leadership. This we believe will be enhanced through the full alignment of the UN Cooperation Framework with NDP-4 and with National Systems-going beyond programmes- to coordination, monitoring and evaluation and reporting mechanisms.  We shall listen.  Namibia knows best about its priorities. Delivering as One as both a UN policy imperative and the wish of Government will be the means of delivering support and the modality will underpin and drive the new Partnership..

In concluding let me again thank everyone and say how I look forward to fruitful deliberations in the days ahead.

I thank you