Remarks by Ms. Gwi‐Yeop Son, UN Resident Coordinator: Signing Ceremony of the UN Joint Programme on Integrated Highland Livelihood Development in Mae Hong Son

12 Jan 2010

Conference Hall, 2nd Floor, Former City Hall of Mae Hong Son

Your Excellency Mr. Gumtorn Tavornsatid, Governor of Mae Hong Son, Mr. Konuma, FAO Representative, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to be here today, in the town of Mae Hong Son, surrounded by your green and beautiful mountains. This is an important day for us of the UN family in Thailand and for the province of Mae Hong Son. By signing the UN Joint Programme on Integrated Highland Livelihood Development in Mae Hong Son with the Governor of this province, we seal our commitment to support government’s efforts to improve the lives and opportunities of the people living in this area.

In 2005 a report analyzing the status of achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the province of Mae Hong Son was launched, thanks to the efforts of several key actors within this province and with the technical support of the UN. The picture it portrayed was, unfortunately, dismaying. Multiple challenges were identified as undermining the progress towards eradication of poverty and ensuring education and health standards in line with national levels.

It was clear that these challenges could only be tackled through an integrated and balanced approach, bringing together economic development and environmental sustainability, social issues and organizational aspects. This approach has been reflected in the provincial development strategy for 2008‐11 and in line with this, the UN family has come together to provide its sectoral expertise in support of government’s ongoing efforts in a coherent and coordinated fashion.

As a Resident Coordinator, it is a matter of great pride to see 12 UN organisations joining hands, leaving behind their agencies’ hats, and offer their specific technical knowledge to contribute to a comprehensive common project. We believe this is the way we should work, to be a more effective partner to Thailand.

Through our work here, in Mae Hong Son, we will pilot a number of innovative initiatives aimed at reaching out to the most marginalized and vulnerable, improving their chances of accessing social services and income opportunities.

For example, pioneer sustainable practices on natural resource management and forest conservation; identification and implementation of eco‐tourism initiatives, and granting primary healthcare services to migrants, displaced persons and ethnic minorities. We hope we will all learn from this and be able to translate it into national policies for the benefit of other provinces throughout the country.

In sum, we are setting ambitious targets for us today, binding us together in a joint commitment for the wellbeing and future of the people living in this beautiful province. Let me conclude expressing my sincere appreciation first of all to the Governor of Mae Hong Son, Khun Gumtorn Tavornsatid, his colleagues at the governor’s office, and representatives of the provincial line ministries offices who are present here today and who are partnering with UN agencies in the implementation of this project.

Last, but not least, a special recognition goes to my estimate colleague from FAO, Mr. Konuma who is really the heart and soul of this UN joint project. Without his tireless coordination efforts this project would have never seen the light, and for this, we are all extremely grateful. Thank you, Konuma‐san.