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Your Excellency, Mr. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia

Your Excellency, Mr. Dan Neculăescu, State Secretary for Regional Affairs and

Multilateral Global Affairs of Romania, Chair of the PBC

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to attend, on behalf of UNDP, this high-level meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission on The Gambia.

It is my expectation, that our encounter this morning, will be a pre-resonance of what we project to be a successful International Conference, in a month time.

New York, today, and Brussels in thirty days, will be, with no doubt, moments of re-affirmation that The Gambia is back; back and ready to reclaim its natural position as The Gateway to the Continent; and a potential leading geo-economic platform for West Africa.  

The country  will not walk  alone on that path; as the nation has generated a huge capital of sympathy and has rightly earned an international badge of honor, in its  right fight to restore the universal enlightenment  principles of peace,  social  justice,  good neighborhood, human rights , dignity and freedom.

The National Development Plan 2018-2021, just presented by Minister Sanneh, will be a powerful compass in that journey. It illustrates the vision and leadership of the Government to lay the foundations for a modern democratic state, while also addressing the most pressing economic, social and environmental challenges of the country. The Plan, through its alignment with the 2030 Agenda, Africa Agenda 2063 and other regional and international commitments, lays the framework for making sustainable development a reality in The Gambia while also encapsulating the principles of sustaining peace, enhancing resilience and leaving no one behind.

The plan will be a moment of transformation. Essential for this transformation is building social cohesion and reconciliation, and sustaining peace. Rebuilding the social contract and re-securing peoples’ trust in the government through the implementation of the medium-term national development plan will allow for consolidating development gains, ensuring that societies and groups can live in harmony with each other and to reflect on the journey towards ‘The New Gambia We Want’; one that is resilient to risks and volatility, and strives for the wellbeing of all citizens.

The plan must also be a moment to deliver  development results with a sense of urgency; as deprivation has been striking for too long; with an average poverty rate of 48.6% , nation-wide,  and of about 70% in rural areas; hence above the already too high average rural poverty rate of 65% in Africa. Drawing from the successful experience of emergency community development programs (PUDC) in Senegal and then Togo, UNDP can support countries like The Gambia to replicate successful fast-tracked development models that have produced tangible results particularly for vulnerable segments of the population, including women and youth, in a very short time.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Lee Kwan Yew took a city-state smaller than New York, and turn it into a giant powerhouse and a global financial hub; he made history; he gave us a lot of lessons, yet simple but potent, in transforming an economy, a nation and a society; his key advice is to have a clear vision of the future and execute it in a sustained and disciplined manner. The Gambia’s National Development Plan embodies a clear and shared vision, “The Gambia  We  Want”.  I am quite convinced that if we all line up behind  this vision, in a disciplined manner, and provide the required support, a Singapore will very soon flourish, at the Gateway to Africa.

I Thank you.

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