Helen Clark: Remarks at the Launch of flagship UNDP Projects

Mar 13, 2017

UNDP stands ready to support its government partners in their crucial work to advance the country towards a prosperous, sustainable, and inclusive future. Photo: UNDP Lao

I am delighted to return to Lao PDR and see the progress made putting Lao PDR on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals enshrined in the 2030 Agenda. Lao PDR is a leader in the region in the way in which it is aligning the new global agenda with its national plan.

The ongoing support of all development partners, many of whom are here today, has been crucial in providing support to the next phase of the country’s development. Graduation from Least Development Country status is a top priority for Lao PDR. The 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan 2016-2020 sets out a comprehensive approach to achieving this. 

Lao PDR has been a long-standing and active participant in the affairs of the UN system, including as Chair of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, and as a member of the Executive Boards of UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF. 

Let me comment now on three aspects of UNDP’s work in Lao PDR:

1.    UNDP enjoys a strong partnership with Lao PDR, and was privileged to work closely with the Ministry of Planning of Investment on the development of the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan.

Now that the Plan is in place, UNDP supports the Government with implementation and monitoring, and will be pleased to support development of the 9th plan for 2021-2025. I am delighted that the Support Programme for Implementation of the National Socio-Economic Development Plan towards LDC Graduation, MIC Transition and SDG Achievement is being launched today. It is the result of an extensive consultation process, including with many present here today, on how we can all partner with Lao PDR to establish an even more effective and result-oriented development partnership, and thereby strengthen the Round Table Process. The programme will also support the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in further localizing the Sustainable Development Goals, and on accelerating progress towards their achievement, and ensuring that no one is left behind in the country’s development. I know that many partners have expressed their intention in supporting this process, and I thank Luxembourg for already committing to advancing the SDGs in the national context and the work towards LDC graduation

2.    Since my previous visit, the Prime Minister of Lao PDR has launched, together with the UN Secretary-General, the first national Sustainable Development Goal #18 on removing the unexploded ordinance (UXO) obstacle to development. This is a local solution to a local issue, and is embedded in the country’s globally-anchored development planning. During my visits to Laos I have seen how vital the clearance of UXOs is for rural development and access to basic services. 

UNDP has supported the Government with the development of SDG 18 as a long-term strategy. A joint five-year plan of action has been prepared to lay the foundations for achieving the SDG 18 by 2030. I am delighted to hear that we are about to launch of the next phase of UNDP’s partnership with the National Regulatory Authority for UXO and Mine Action and UXO-Lao through the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and other institutions to address the serious impediment to Lao PDR’s development.

UNDP has worked in partnership with the Government of Lao PDR in the UXO sector for more than two decades. Most development partners active in this country have contributed in one way or another to this important work. Allow me to mention here those which have worked directly with UNDP in the current programme - Australia, Belgium, Canada, the European Union, Ireland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Let me also thank those which have already made strong commitments to the new programme – the European Union and (my own country) New Zealand. 

I am aware that some partners who contributed previously have also indicated a desire to continue this partnership, and we thank them for their continued interest in supporting UXO clearance work in Lao PDR. Some of you have entrusted UNDP to manage your generous support to the UXO sector, while others provide support directly to the Government of Lao PDR or via other channels. Let me thank all who contribute to this important work, and the men and women who work to clear the UXOs and support the victims to recover from the damage inflicted on them by UXOs.

3.    A third important aspect of UNDP’s partnership with the Government is supporting the establishment and strengthening of the governance structures and administrative systems necessary to engage and respond to the needs of all the country’s citizens. The new Governance for Inclusive Development Programme – a joint programme between UNDP & the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), developed under the overarching framework of the Government’s National Governance and Public Administration Reform Programme, will frame this work over the next five years. It will support local institutions are able to increase their coverage of basic services and include citizens’ feedback in the planning cycle for services provision, especially at the local levels.

The Governance for Inclusive Development Programme has emerged from an inclusive design involving the Government, UN agencies, development partners, and civil society. 

I would like to acknowledge the long-term partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) over the years in supporting the governance sector in Lao PDR. Switzerland continues to be a key actor in the sector, and I am pleased to note that negotiations with SDC regarding a contribution of up to 5 million US$ to the new Programme are at an advanced stage.  I wish to express our thanks and appreciation for SDC’s commitment to continue supporting this critical area, in partnership with UNDP.

I wish also to express our sincere thanks to our Government partners, especially the Ministry of Home Affairs, for their close collaboration. The Ministry is taking the lead on cross-sector co-operation with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and provincial and district administrations to create a more enabling local governance environment which improves service delivery and local development, and makes it sustainable and inclusive.

With all of these plans developed, UNDP stands ready to support its government partners in their crucial work to advance the country towards a prosperous, sustainable, and inclusive future. The committed and ongoing support of all our Development Partners will be crucial. With my time as the Administrator of UNDP coming to an end next month, I am proud to leave this partnership in such good health.