Helen Clark: Event to celebrate Fifty years of UNDP’s presence in Mexico

Sep 13, 2011

Remarks by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Event to Celebrate Fifty years of UNDP’s Presence in Mexico and the Signing of the UNDP-Mexico Collaboration Framework Agreement
Mexico City, 13 September 2011 at 11am

I sincerely thank President Calderón for inviting us here today to celebrate the fifty year anniversary of Mexico-UNDP co-operation in such a distinguished manner.

This event is a true demonstration of our long and successful partnership – a partnership which has throughout been based on the principles of mutual respect, common understanding, and joint collaboration. 

UNDP’s operations in Mexico started in March 1961, when a co-operation agreement between the Mexican Government and the United Nation’s Special Fund – UNDP’s forerunner – was signed.

During the early years, our co-operation was largely focused on providing technical assistance in the fields of engineering for public works and agriculture.

Over a span of half a century, however, the nature and scope of co-operation evolved a great deal. UNDP and Mexico are now close partners in areas as wide ranging as governance, environment, women´s empowerment, private sector development, and disaster risk reduction.

We have, for example, worked together on electoral assistance during Mexico´s transition, peace-building in Chiapas, indigenous peoples´ rights, water and sanitation, assistance to small suppliers to access the value chain, and on policy analysis, including through Human Development Reports.

The evolution of the UNDP-Mexico partnership also reflects Mexico’s own successful development journey, which has made it one of the world´s largest economies and a powerful regional and global player.

That development progress is reflected in the Third National MDG Progress Report, being presented here today.

Four years ahead of the 2015 target date for achieving the MDGs, Mexico has already achieved many targets, and almost all those remaining are within reach.  That progress is a cause for celebration.

In Mexico, as elsewhere, it is also important to delve deeper into the statistics reporting progress, and look at the different levels of progress and inequalities across regions and population groups. That has particular salience in a nation with a Federal Constitution, in which states are responsible for implementing their own social policies.

UNDP and the wider UN family here in Mexico have been focusing on working with several states whose indicators lagged national averages – notably in Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas – and have supported the design and implementation of public policy there.

Impressive progress has been made in such regions. In Chiapas, extreme poverty has decreased by five per cent over the past three years, and sustained human development progress is being made, including for indigenous people.(*)

We were touched by your remarks, Mr. President, following the recent release of UNDP’s Human Development Report focusing on Mexico´s Indigenous Peoples. You said at that time:

 “There is indeed an historic debt towards the Indigenous Peoples. It is very encouraging that UNDP has recognized the great effort made by Mexico to secure the economic, social and cultural rights of the indigenous population, and even more important that UNDP agrees with us on the need to increase even further the expenditure, and to focus it on the reduction of inequalities that affect our indigenous communities.”

I would like to take this opportunity to thank President Calderón for his personal support to the Chiapas - UN Agenda, through which twelve UN Agencies are providing technical and financial assistance to the state.  

I will visit Chiapas this afternoon, and I look forward to seeing with my own eyes the fruits of the important work being done there.

Overall the outlook for the MDGs in Mexico is promising. We are here to celebrate the progress already achieved and to commit to working together to tackle the remaining challenges.

The Third National MDG Report gives us clear indications of what to target, and there is still time: what has not been achieved today can be reached by 2015. The recent commitment by you, Mr. President, for Mexico to achieve universal health care coverage will certainly help accelerate MDG progress.

Mexico is a global player with a foreign policy based on the principles of respect and solidarity. It has always been a constructive player in the field of peace, security, and disarmament; and is active in the promotion of human rights. Mexico’s careful diplomacy resulted in a successful climate change conference in Cancun last year.

Mexico is also contributing to international development co-operation. In the Collaboration Framework Agreement being signed today, UNDP and Mexico express a shared commitment to support countries around the world to accelerate progress to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Our agreement reflects Mexico´s willingness to share its development experience with other nations. It also reflects UNDP´s commitment to be an honest broker of Mexico’s knowledge, a partner in triangular co-operation, and an ally in providing assistance when and where it is needed, in line with our commitment to support South-South co-operation.

There is great interest in learning more of Mexico´s development successes and how they were achieved. Just one example; in June, Cesar Nava – former chief of staff to the President of Mexico - accompanied UNDP to Cairo for a dialogue with counterparts in the Arab states region about lessons learned from Mexico’s transition.

Around the world, UNDP is well placed to partner Mexico´s development efforts. We work in 177 countries and territories, with governments and peoples, on their own solutions to their development challenges.

It is now my pleasure Mr. President, to present you with a new publication entitled “Half a Century of Human Development in Mexico”.

This book is a celebration of the fruitful partnership Mexico and UNDP have enjoyed over the past fifty years. The signing of the Collaboration Framework Agreement today tells us that our partnership will continue to flourish, both here in Mexico and for the benefit of developing countries beyond Mexico’s shores.

(*) Chiapas is and continues being the last of the Mexican States in HDI ranking. From 2000 to 2009, regardless of the final ranking, and in terms of progress, Chiapas was the 11th fastest growing State (in HD terms). When HDI components are deconstructed, for instant education (measured by literacy rates of persons over 14 years of age, and enrolment rates between 6 and 24 years of age), or health (measured by life expectancy at birth) Chiapas has experienced the 5th fastest growing rhythm in the decade, and the 1st fastest growing rhythm in the decade, respectively

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